Friday, August 14, 2015

Family Farm, not Factory Farm

Bama Breeze

We drove past one of the biggest farms in the county last night.... a number of barns, dozens upon dozens of calf hutches in long white rows, lots of feed and bedding storage, hundreds of cows, some new construction projects, corn fields, ponds, and all.

I am sure that activists and those not in the know would have been horrified. OMG, it's big! It has barns! It must be bad!!!!

I was instead quite tickled. The calves were obviously contented...happy even...out in their little individual yards, schmoozing with each other or prancing around. They were fat and clean and healthy. Their coats were sleek and fluffy and nice.

The cows were having supper, heads reaching through their feeders to piles and piles of lovely total mixed ration, or TMR. They were clearly contented too, just doing what cows generally choose to do, eating and hanging around together.

Everything, and I do mean everything, was spotlessly clean, and neat, and tidy. That is saying something right there. Animals make a mess and cows are particularly messy as creatures go.

Yet this place was tidier than my living room.

And it smelled good! There was no odor of manure at all, despite the large number of cattle house there. All you could smell was the corn in the ration, which by the way smells tangy and delicious, and the warm bodies of the cows....which to me is a wonderful smell.

It is sad that people who have no idea what they are seeing perceive farms like these as less than ideal. Instead this is a business built by a farming family who care for their animals and their land and take care of things with state of the art equipment. Hats off to them.

Update, here is a link I save about how cows feel about pasture vs housing in summer. 


Uta said...

I prefer to see cows on grass, which nature intended, not in feeding stalls. Your cow seems to enjoy beeing out on the field.

threecollie said...

Uta, I understand that a lot of people feel that way. I like to see cows on pasture too...however, from the cows' point of view, the free stall barn is a comfortable, safe place with plenty of food and companionship. In the photo above Bama is hot on the heels of Moon and Moonshine and they are all racing for the woods to get away from the horse flies, which are horrible this year. My point in this exercise is perception....what may not look good to someone who has not dealt with cows for a lifetime is actually not only acceptable, but comfortable, and even desirable from the cow's point of view. Here is a scientific study done on what cows prefer in summer, if you are interested in reading it.

jan said...

Good answer.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE THIS and thank you for posting it...I have no idea what goes on in the farm industry except YOU ARE IN THE KNOW and love your way of writing about it and telling us about it. THANK YOU...I love that farm you

ellie k said...

My son lives in Dubai that is a lot of sand and very hot but they have one of the worlds biggest dairy farms in the middle of the desert, these cows are keep in sheds under fans and mist ers. There production rates are high and the cows are prized there. I think where ever you keep cows comfort, food and good care is what they like.

threecollie said...

Jan, thanks

Merri, no farm is perfect, but there is a place for every style of farming, and really, sometimes the big farms do it better. More resources and all.

Ellie, exactly! Barns are not bad inherently and cows do like to be indoors at least some of the time.

Terry and Linda said...

I had to pin your photo from yesterday! The photos are just lovely!