A new life has arrived! Once a cow has a calf, she starts producing milk.
After having a calf, the cow does not get bred again for the next 3 months. After that, she will be rebred. This allows her to keep producing milk.
We milk an average of 120 Jerseys year round. They are milked twice a day—at 4am and 4pm. Milking the whole herd takes approximately 2 hours: a group of 7 cows are in the parlor for an average of 10 minutes. Our parlor is set up so that we can milk 14 cows at one given time (7 on each side).
Milking procedures for very important! Both for the cow as well as the quality of milk.
Farmers have to obey by the state’s law by staying under a certain number of bacteria count. Our milk is shipped every other day. The milk truck driver takes a sample of the milk and it will be tested for antibiotics and bacteria levels. Once the milk truck gets to the plant, the whole tanker is sampled again. There is zero tolerance for antibiotics and medication residue in the milk.
If there is any sort of trace, the whole tanker will be dumped out at the farmer’s expense. We do not want that! So we take every precaution to make sure that will never happen.
All of our milk cows are in one barn. Milk cows need to be comfortable and calm to produce milk. On our farm some comfort protocols we have are:
1. Fresh feed fed twice a day.
2. Free choice water offered at multiple waterers in barn.
3. Inches of sand bedding to lie on.
4. Beds cleaned and raked out daily.
5. Hooves are trimmed twice a year to make sure feet are in good/comfortable condition.
6. Vet checks herd every month to make sure animal health is in good standing.
7. Monitored 24/7.
8. Fans automatically turn on at 65 degrees (above 70 degrees can be a stress on cows).
9. Recorded data and events for every animal.
The cow’s gestation is 9 months. At 7 months into the pregnancy the cow is dried off. Our farm will give the cow a medicine to allow it stop producing milk. It takes a lot of energy to produce milk and the cow does not need the stress that far along in the pregnancy. This will allow her to give the extra energy to the baby to grow.
If it is good weather, the cows will go to pasture for the next month. Some of our pastures are on the same property the farm is on and some are located around the town.
When the cows are at pasture they are checked daily and are given some grain to keep the vitamin demand in good standing. Other than the little grain, they are grass fed.
A month before they calve, the cow comes back to the farm and put into a specific pen for cows that will are close up to calving. They will receive corn, hay and grain again to keep their demand up since they are now starting to use extra energy to get ready for having a calf. We are sure to check these close up cows multiple times a day to make sure nothing has changed.
When dairy cows calve they usually are able to handle everything themselves. Every now and then farmers will need to assist the cow so that she does not hurt herself. Vets are always on call in case farmers need more help.
Farmers will make sure the calving pen is extra clean to make sure the calf is being born into as clean as possible environment.
Every farm has a different barn layout or amount of cows so the protocols might be a little different depending on the farm. But all farmers live by one rule: cow comfort is absolutely number one! We will do anything and everything to make sure our cows are healthy, comfortable and happy.
Next up: General Nutrition and Care