Crazy Moos

Moosworthy Information Straight from the Dairy!

Dairymen have Mercy for Animals!

California Calf

**Happy cows really do come from California. This little girl was out basking in the sunshine the other day just working on her tan**

Dairymen give Animals the Best Care Possible

Sometimes as a dairy farmer I am very distraught by the things people say about the dairy industry. We treat animals with respect and give them the best care possible. We depend on them for our livelihood, just as our animals depend on us. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship. That’s why it’s hard to listen to people bash us and our industry by saying negative things; condemning us for inhumane treatment of animals while the complete opposite is true.

Recently Mercy for Animals, an animal rights activist group, released some “undercover” video footage of a ranch not treating baby calves right. As a dairyman, I was completely appalled by the footage. I found it extremely disturbing, and it really motivated me to write about this.

I think that the “undercover” video footage that Mercy for Animals puts together is meant to disturb you. They stage these events in order to provoke you, to motivate you to take action. I will admit it is very motivating, because I was extremely disgusted with the video, and cannot bear to let this happen to other animals.

They stage these incidents of animal cruelty themselves in order to promote and push their agenda. Their agenda being that everyone should stop eating products produced by animals. They hate people involved in animal agriculture, and want to erase the industry from society altogether. Since they are a minority opinion though, they need to convince you that people on farms hate their animals and abuse them on a daily basis in order to convince you to take action and join their cause.

I think anyone who knows a local farmer, though, will know that animals are treated very humanely on the farm. I for one can confidently say though that no dairy farmers treat animals the way that Mercy for Animals would have you to believe. There is no motive, or reason for a dairy farmer to treat the animals on their farm inhumanely unless they are truly depraved people.

Dairymen are motivated to treat the baby calves on the dairy humanely because they are the next generation for the farm. Just like you want the best for your children, we want the best for our calves. We treat them well because happy cows really do produce the best milk.

On Our Farm

Let me tell you how we treat the baby calves. When the baby calves are born we put them in hutches so they can have a clean, safe, stress free environment. The reason we separate them from the mother is that the mothers can be very careless at times. The hutches are a safe place where they won’t get stepped on or pushed around by the older cows. If you want to think about it this way, the calf pens are basically big play pens, like a play pen you would keep your toddler in to keep them out of trouble.

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**The Playpens**

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The calves stay in the hutches for about 2 months, and then move into a much larger group pen where they can play with all their friends. During those first few weeks though it’s critical that they remain separated because their immune systems are still developing. Any illness at this point of their life will severely affect their growth so we try to keep them as healthy as possible. We use some basic antibiotics if they get sick, which helps them overcome any illness they might get.

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**My brother and sister out making sure everyone is healthy in the group pen the babies go to after they leave their playpens**

Calves are fed two times every day, morning and afternoon. They get a nice bucket full of milk so they can grow healthy and strong. In addition we have grain bins available in their pens so they have free access to grain whenever they want. Grain is high in protein so the baby calves can grow more quickly. In the summer time when it’s very hot, we also make sure to keep water available to them in addition to the milk they get. Sometimes on the extremely hot days, we give them electrolytes (Gatorade for calves) to keep them properly hydrated. So nutritionally they have a very healthy and sound diet and are always kept fed and well nourished.

The Plain, Simple Truth

It’s important to keep them healthy with a stress free environment and that’s really our primary goal in raising the babies. They are our farms next generation so we make sure to treat them well on our farm! I know for a fact that all other dairy farmers have this same motivation to treat their cows and calves humanely and keep them comfortable.

Mercy for Animals and other animal rights activists definitely have an agenda, which they will enact using any means possible. All I can say is that dairymen have no motivation to treat animals badly. In fact only the opposite is true, we have full motivation to treat animals well. The better care we give to the animals the better they will be at taking care of us, and that’s just the plain simple truth.

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Filed under: Calves, Cow Comfort, Dairy, Dairy Issues, , , , , ,

A New Home: Christmas Comes Early for our Baby Calves

Christmas has come early for our baby calves. For awhile now, our family has been working on building some new structures on our new ranch to raise the baby calves more comfortably. We had grown out of our old facilities and needed a new place to raise the baby calves. We finally finished building the new facilities so we spent all last week moving heifers to the new ranch. It’s been pretty exciting!

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**The Unloading Chute, the calves walk down the chute from the Trailer to their New Home**

The new barns are state of the art, and I think the heifers will be quite comfortable in their new home. Depending on the weather conditions, the sides of the barns can roll up and down. In the summer the sides will be raised up to promote airflow through the barn, while in much of the winter the sides will be lowered down to protect against wind and rain. In Northern California where the ranch is located, the wind can blow very hard, so the rolling sides will definitely protect the young cows against the hash elements of winter.

Inside the barns, the calves have a large area to run and play in. I’ll admit its pretty fun watching the heifers run to and fro inside the barns.

 

**My sister Watching the Calves Play**

In the barns, the heifers have free access to food and water. Water is freely available in the many water troughs that are located throughout the barn. When they drink out of the troughs, the water valve opens according to the water level in order to re-fill the trough. These water troughs are cleaned periodically to ensure a clean water supply for the calves. Food is also freely available. The heifers are fed corn silage along with a blend of other food stuffs. Corn silage is corn (the entire corn stalks) that have been chopped into fine pieces and fermented. Fermenting the corn silage is basically food preservation, and allows us to have feed available for the heifers year-round. The heifers really love eating the corn silage, and it’s always surprising to see how efficient they are at sorting their food to find the corn kernels.

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**The Calves Eating in their new Home**

Northern California is a very scenic area in California, especially in the winter with the dark stormy skies and puffy clouds. On our drive through NorCal, we took some pretty cool pictures, enjoy.

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** Farmland and Power Lines**

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**The Coastal Mountain Range and Stormy Skies**

**Rice Fields in Northern California**

Filed under: Calves, Dairy, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Calves Moove in with Friends

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After about 4 weeks of age, the baby calves are moved from the individual pens to larger group pens. Around this age they are strong enough to be on their own. They are usually pretty excited about moving in with friends.

At this point, the calves are no longer allowed milk due to their changing digestive system. The stomach of the calf actually changes to where it cannot digest milk efficiently. I may write this later to explain what actually happens. The digestive system of the calves transitions from a milk diet, to a forage based diet around this age. So the calves are no longer given milk (they sometimes disapprove of this very vocally), but they get to eat some high quality hay and grain instead. The calves at this point are basically expanding their horizons food wise. 

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The reason the calves were in individual pens their first few weeks was to help them develop their immune systems so they can become strong enough to fight off disease. The pens help create a warm dry environment without the danger of spreading disease.

But by 4 weeks of age, the calves have grown significantly, and are strong enough to be with a group of friends. We just moved the next group of calves the other day out of the calf pens and into the group pen. They were pretty happy, and were making a lot of noise.

I captured this humorous video while i was out there!


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Filed under: Calves, Dairy, , , , ,

Ace Helps Train Red Rose

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Summer time means its time for the local county county fair. Every year, we bring a bunch of cows and calves to the local county fair. It gives the local public the opportunity to see cows in person, and we can answer all their dairy questions. But we don’t just go to the fair to relax, its strictly business. At the fair the cows and calves compete in a contest to see who is the best (its really like miss America, but for cows). 

Before the contest, a lot of work goes into getting the animals prepared. They have to learn to walk with the halter. My sisters have spent an exorbitant amount of time teaching the cows and calves how to walk. Sometimes however, our dog Ace wants to help train the calves too. The above picture is Ace at work training Red Rose.

Filed under: Calves, County Fair, Dairy, , ,

Baby Calf Care on the Dairy

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Since we are on the topic of calf care, i figured I’d share more about how the baby calves are treated on our dairy. The above picture i think is a good representation of how much we care for the calves. I can assure you that the above picture is not the angel of death, but one of our employees (he wanted to remain anonymous). He was carrying the baby to its new home. 

Calf care makes up a significant portion of the work on our dairy. We feed them milk and water twice a day, feed them grain, nurse sick ones, and periodically add fresh bedding to keep their houses warm and dry. Separating the babies may seem cruel to some people, but i can assure you, we have the calves best interest at heart. The calves are housed separately to create a warm, dry, healthy environment for the calf, and to ensure that it gets the best possible nutrition during its first weeks of life. Because calves have weak immune systems during their first weeks of life, it is critical that they develop and grow strong and healthy in their individual houses.

Calves that are left with their mother usually do not receive an adequate amount of colostrum. When we house them individually, we can help them get the right amount of colostrum and nutrition. Colostrum is the cows first milk after having her baby, and is rich in nutrients and antibodies to help strengthen the immune system.

The following two pictures show the calves in their pens. The calves after a few days learn how to drink freely from the bucket which is filled with milk two times per day. When there is no milk, we provide them with water so they can keep hydrated. The picture with the pens shows the long line of pens. There are a lot of babies on our dairy! The picture of the pens was taken this winter when it was raining. The pens have roofs that flip down to protect the calves from the rain. After the rain stops, we flip the roofs back up so the calves can soak in the warm California sunshine. California sunshine is definitely one  of the key ingredients to raising healthy happy cows.

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The environment we provide for them, aims to keep the stress low, the environment clean, and the food nutritious to develop the strongest calves possible. Sick calves develop much more slowly (read about Webbzy), its in our best interest to ensure they grow well!

4 of my sisters feed calves every day, and love taking care of the calves. They spend a lot of time with them giving them all names. I was going though my picture file and couldn’t find many Holstein calves (the black and white ones). It seems like they like the Jerseys the best (the brown ones) because those were the only pictures i could find!

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Filed under: Calves, Dairy, , , , , , , ,

Wubbzy, An Example Dairies Care!

Even though there are many animals on our dairy, my little sisters still manage to make them all pets. Wow Wow Wubbzy, Wubbzy Wubbzy Wow Wow (yes, that’s his full name!) is probably one of the smallest little calves on the dairy with the longest name.

I’ll first explain how Wubbzy got his ridiculously long name. If you watch Nickelodeon Jr., there is a cartoon called Wow Wow Wubbzy. There is a whole song about Wubbzy, and my sisters seem to think calf Wubbzy and cartoon Wubbzy look the same… I still don’t see it.

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As I mentioned in my previous post, baby calves have very weak immune systems when they are born, but gradually get stronger with age. Unfortunately Wubbzy got very sick as a small calf, and nearly died. My sister was able to give him an enormous amount of intense care and he miraculously managed to pull out of his illness. Wubbzy somehow worked his way into celebrity status, all the girls on our dairy love him!! 

Because he was so sick for his first few weeks of life, Wubbzy’s growth was severely stunted. Wubbzy was easily one of the smallest in his age group! Of course it didn’t help that he was a Jersey calf. (Jerseys are a breed of dairy cows that are typically smaller than Holstein cows, another dairy breed). Besides being so small, Wubbzy is quite healthy now and growing faster than ever. Wubbzy also has been recruited by my sister to go to the local county fair!

I managed to capture Wubbzy on my Iphone the other day. Wubbzy is the little brown calf who is devouring his lunch. He has a pretty big appetite..

Filed under: Calves, Dairy, Dairy Pets, , , , ,

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Crazy Moos

About Crazy Moos

Welcome to the Crazy Moos blog! Crazy Moos is a play on words, basically trying to create a fun environment (crazy) for dairy news (moos). The overall goal of this blog is to communicate “moosworthy information” (newsworthy information) about the dairy industry and important happening on the dairy farm. Hopefully this blog will help people learn about various aspects of the dairy industry and what happens on the dairy farm. Visit regularly for new blog postings!

About Me

I am a 3rd generation dairyman in California, and our dairy farm really is a reflection of the American dream. My grandfather came to America from Europe after World War II in search of greater opportunities, and a safer place to raise a family. He came to America with hardly anything except his exceptional appreciation for hard work. My grandpa after a few years was able to start his own dairy farm and start producing high quality, nutritious milk. In the 70’s, he moved the operation to a more remote area (our current location), and started growing the herd.

Today, I am actively taking part in the farms daily responsibilities. I’m well qualified to be in the dairy industry, and consider myself pretty knowledgeable about the dairy industry having just graduating college with a degrees in dairy science, and dairy processing.

Many people today believe that the dairy industry has been taken over by large corporate farms, but a recent study done shows that most dairies are family owned. In fact, 99% of dairy farms in California are family owned and operated. My whole family is involved on the dairy. My sisters are caretakers of the baby calves, and we guys take care of the cows. There are eight kids in our family, so the dairy is definitely a family affair!

Milk is one of the world’s most nutritious natural products. So many people today are forgetting that milk is filled with many different nutrients, all combined to work in synergy together to maximize the body’s absorption of these nutrients. It’s the perfect blend of nutrients, in nature’s most natural product.

Milk, it’s a natural product, that’s naturally good for you!

**All Pictures, unless specified otherwise, Copyright © 2011 Crazy Moos. All Rights Reserved**