rambles

Cattle

This tag is associated with 11 posts

Where do cows sleep?


You might wonder where cows sleep on a modern dairy farm (you might have heard them called factory farms too).

On our dairy farm cows sleep in various places.

Some of our cows sleep in freestall barns:

Cows can lay down in their own individual stall and are free to come and go as they please.

The stalls are cleaned daily, leveled several times a week and new bedding added every 2 weeks. Here is a bit more about making the cow beds. The cows who sleep in these barns also have access to outside corrals in the appropriate weather.

Some of our cows and younger heifers sleep in corrals:

The corrals are groomed weekly to keep them soft, smooth and dry.

Our pregnant cows who will be having their baby calves any day sleep on a bedded pack:

The loafing area for our pregnant cows is cleaned and ready to be refilled with almond shells.

The maternity pen for the expectant cows is cleaned every day however we have to completly change the bedding several times a year. First we remove all the old bedding, then add a little sand to cover the dirt and last we add several inches of almond shells.

The pregnant cows are frolicking in their new bedding.

We also have some animals who sleep in the pasture:

The cows who sleep in the pasture sometimes can nearly hide in plain sight.

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Cow Bling!


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New calves showing off their bling!

On our farm we use eartags to give each animal an unique identifier that allows us to keep important health records for each animal. Here are a few pictures that show the tags up close.

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This is used to apply the tags similar to how ears are pierced for earrings

The tags are applied in a similar fashion to earrings through a soft portion of the ear. Each tag is self contained and is clean and sterile.

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Each tag has 2 parts this is the male part

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Cow bling has a lot of information about the animal

The information of the tags includes our farm brand (starting at the very top of the biggest tag), next is the unique “840” number assigned to only this animal in the United States, followed by the unique number for our farm, in this case 2129. The small white tag has the same numbers and also id an EID tag that contains an RFID information. We currently do not utilize the RFID tag outside of visual use however are we will be implementing the electronic reading in the future to help with efficiency and to eliminate human error.

Curious about the camera, and showing the bling!

Lazy Summer Morning


Here is a cow picture for Wordless Wednesday.

Cows chilllin

A few of our cows enjoying the cool morning before a hot summer day here in Central California.

These cows were just moved into this pasture yesterday and are relaxing in the grass. With all the late rains we had here in the Central Valley and now the heat the grass is growing very quickly in the pasture. these cows need to get up and get to work eating it down!

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Cows play in sprinklers? Wordless Wednesday


This started out as a Wordless Wednesday however I decided to add some background information.

Today I’m doing maintenance work on one of the major pieces in our cow comfort system the soakers that help keep the cows cool during the summer.

Here is a picture of the cows enjoying the cool shower just like kids playing in the sprinkler do during the summer.

Cow's on the sprinklers

Cows being cooled by the soaker system.

The soakers come turn on to soak the cows and then are off for a period of time to allow the water to evaporate and creating evaporative cooling. This type of cooling is the same cooling feeling you get right after getting out of a swimming pool on a hot day. We locate the soakers over the cows food so they are more comfortable while eating and their food intake stay’s up during hot days when they need the energy.

Cow Shower

This little box is a great help to keep cows comfortable

This controller uses the temperature at the cow level to adjust the on and off times so the  optimum cooling of the cows is maintained.

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What do you do with all that cow poop?


Many times we get asked the question “What do you do with all the poop from the cows?”.

The pictures below are a visual of how we turn what many think of as waste into a nutrient for our crops in our quest to be a sustainable and friendly to the environment dairy farm.

Cows poop it's just part of nature.

Continue reading

Making the Cow Beds


Here is a look into what goes into providing the cows on our farm clean soft comfortable beds to lie in. The pictures are from start to finish and show how we take solid manure sterilize and dry it, with a process similar to composting, the finished product is essentially soil we then use for bedding. On our farm we use 95% of the solid manure from the cows as bedding as an effort to recycle all we can and leave a minimal environmental footprint.

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With use the cows tend to mess up their beds, we keep trying to get them to make their beds but to no avail.

Cow Beds

The first thing we do is put down Hydrated Lime to dry out any wet spots, yes cows do occasionally wet the bed.

Cow beds.

Next we mix the Lime in with what we call the Freestall Groomer, we use this piece of equipment 3 times a week to re groom the beds.

Cow Beds

Here is what the beds look like after being groomed.

Changing Cow sheets.

The next piece of equipment adds more bedding to the stalls.

Cow Beds

This is the finished product a clean soft bed for the cows to lie in.

Compost

We use a process similar to composting to dry and sterilize the bedding prior to it's use.

Making Cow Food


A few weeks ago we harvested our winter small grain crop to make it into a fermented cow food called silage. Here are a few pictures of the process.

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This is what the crop looks like before harvesting.

Making Cow Food.

This machine is a Windrower it cuts the crop and gathers it into rows to be chopped up by another machine

Making Cow Food

This machine is a Forage Chopper it picks the rows up and cuts it into approximately inch long pieces then blows it into the truck.

Making Cow Food

the trucks then back into this machine that packs the pieces of the crop into long plastic tubes.

Making Cow Food

The crop then ferments inside these airtight tubes and within a few weeks it is cow food.

For more about some of the other things we feed our cows read What Do Cows Eat?

Planting the garden – Farm style!


Just remembered I had this post saved as a draft and never published it, silly me!

Here are some pictures of how we prepped the soil (using a little overkill) for our garden.

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We like to go BIG on the farm!

 We use our loader to get a scoop of the compost we make from the manure our cows leave behind.

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Adding our own compost to the garden.

 We mixed the compost into the soil to add vital nutrients that allows our vegetables to grow.

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Ready to plant!

The finished product!

Public Service Announcement – Drive Safe!


Sometimes it is not just cows and farming we deal with on the dairy! Tonight it was a driver in a hurry that made my night interesting.

Please don’t pass trucks on the right side when they are making a turn. Our milk tanker made a wide right turn into our driveway and this potentially distracted driver (possibly on a cell phone) went to pass him on the right. As you can see the car lost and the truck won. Thankfully no one was hurt the driver had her children in the car with her.

Drive safe

I was at my son’s Little League game when my dad took a call from the neighbor saying that a car had tried to drive underneath the tanker. I immediately called the Trucking Company to make sure a backup truck was on the way because we had a full tank of milk and started milking again in just a short time. I then jumped in my pickup and headed to the dairy not knowing what I would find when I arrived. Luckily everyone was safe and walking around when I drove up and it was only the car that was worse for wear.

I then spent the next few hours coordinating traffic and figuring out how to get the new truck to the milk barn because the driveway was blocked. Luckily we had another driveway the truck could pull into and then drive through a barn to get to the milk barn. The replacement truck arrived in time to empty our tank so we could start milking on time.

Please exercise caution when trucks are turning

In the end everything worked out but please remember to exercise caution around trucks and slow moving farm equipment as they are not as nimble as a car. If you do tangle with either tractors or trucks normally they will win against a car any day. Trucks can have very wide turning radius‘ and appear to be turning one way but really going the other so as to make the turn without hitting anything. Tractors and farm equipment are very slow and at times extremely wide so carefully pass only when safe.

As for my son’s game he continued his streak of getting at least one hit in a game with a double grounder right past the second baseman and then scored the tying run. The opposing team then scored one more to win the game. Bryson also had a great game at first base too making several key outs.

Do not be impatient

Water therapy for cows.


Water therapy for cows

Using water to help heal injuries

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When cows injure themselves we use this tank to help them recover. The water allows the cow to float and stand without having to support her own weight.

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