Dairy farmers are busy people. They work hard 365 days a year to bring us the delicious milk and dairy foods we enjoy! And although the farm-to-table story is one of the most natural food processes out there, there are several steps farmers take to ensure a wholesome product. But out of all the steps, any dairy farmer will tell you that animal care is the most important.
Dairy farmers care for their cows, or “girls” as most call them, by providing a nutritious diet, top-notch animal care and comfortable living conditions. All animals on a dairy farm receive the highest standard of animal care, and calves are no exception. Calves play an important role on the farm because they grow up to become the next generation of adult cows, so farmers are committed to getting them off to a healthy start!
Before giving birth, pregnant cows are housed in a special calving pen where she is given individual care and attention. Dairy farmers and veterinarians keep a close eye on the cow and calf during calving to ensure the health and safety of both animals.
Once a calf is born, the mother provides colostrum – or a milky substance packed with vital nutrients and antibodies – to help boost the calf’s immune system, and she returns to the milking herd. Calves are placed in clean, dry, individual pens to ease stress and make it possible for farmers to keep a close eye on their health. Without this special housing, the much smaller calves can be seriously injured by adult cows that weigh more than 1,500 pounds.
Dairy farmers feed calves their milk with individual bottles several times each day until they are strong enough to be moved to group pens with other calves. Calves receive regular checks to make sure they are healthy and receiving proper nutrition. Out of all animals, dairy calves get more attention than most.
Calves are vital members of a dairy farm, which is why farmers go to great lengths to make sure they are healthy and well cared for. Learn more: 10 ways dairy cows have it made!