Michigan’s dairy farm moms know best care practices
Michigan's dairy farmers have a strong commitment to providing their consumers with safe, high-quality milk and dairy products. Michigan's dairy farm moms appreciate the importance of being able to provide their families with nutritious products, and understand that safe, wholesome milk and dairy products come from well-cared for cows.
Moms understand it's important to take care of our bodies and make healthy decisions. The same goes for dairy animals: healthy cows produce more milk. Dairy farmers work to ensure the comfort, safety and care of their animals so they can produce wholesome, nutritious milk. "We take great pride in taking care of the land and the animals, because they take care of us," said Monica Crandall, a dairy farmer from Battle Creek, Mich. Dairy farmers care for their cows by providing a nutritious diet, good medical care and healthy living conditions so they can produce high-quality milk.
Cow comfort is an important part of animal care, and dairy farmers take their animal housing seriously. "Our main goal is to give the cows the best environment so they can produce a wholesome, nutrient-rich drink for our family," said Andrea Gasper, of Lew-Max Holsteins in Lowell, Mich. "We drink it every day and take great pride in producing that for all families."
Cows are provided with clean, soft bedding, and granted continuous access to fresh water and food. Many farmers house their cows in freestall barns. Aside from allowing the cows to eat, drink and lay down as they please, the freestall barns also let in fresh air and sunshine, and provide shade and protection from the wind, cold or rain. Freestall barns often feature such amenities as sand bedding, fans and misters, which are especially nice for Michigan's hot summer days.
Along with proper care goes proper nutrition. Michigan dairy farm moms understand the importance of a healthy diet, both for their family and their cows. Working with their animal nutritionists to ensure their cows get the nutrition they need, dairy farmers provide a well-balanced, wholesome diet for their cows. While their diet doesn't include peas and Brussels sprouts, its every bit as important to their health! Cows can eat up to 100 pounds of food a day, so food and fresh water are continuously provided to them, and they are able to eat and drink at their leisure.
And just like those regular doctors' checkups moms make sure we get, comprehensive medical care is important to cows' health, too. Dairy farmers work closely with veterinarians to keep their cows healthy and comfortable. "One of the most important jobs for veterinarians is monitoring the entire health of the herd of animals on the farm," said Dr. Lisa Sanford, a large animal veterinarian near Lowell, Mich. "We walk through the barns and observe all the animals. We discuss vaccination issues, calf care issues and housing issues. It allows us to look over the entire operation."
Detailed records are kept of each cow to ensure individualized care and attention when needed, with extra attention given to cows when they are about to give birth. They are often placed in a separate pen and constantly watched for signs of labor. "That's my favorite part," said Carol Neyer, who works with her husband, brother-in-law and two sons on their family farm in Shepherd, Mich. "Watching and helping the cows calve, you feel like you've really accomplished something, and that's always good."
Carol has been responsible for taking care of the Neyer Farms calves since she first came to the farm, 47 years ago. She especially enjoys the closeness farming affords her family. "I've watched some of the grandkids since they were babies. Growing up, our kids knew how to work and were responsible, and the grandkids are the same now. They always have something to do."
Kristie Lamb, of Jeddo, Mich, echoes Carol's sentiment, "It's awesome that our kids get to run around the farm and play and learn because someday they may feed the world and that's a very important job."
About 98 percent of Michigan's farms are family owned and operated. With this long-standing and proud history, dairy farming has become the top-ranking segment of Michigan's number two industry: agriculture. Michigan dairy farmers take pride in the care they give their animals, so they can take pride in the milk and dairy products they provide for Michigan residents, those across the country, and internationally.