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:
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:
Our pregnant cows who will be having their baby calves any day sleep on a bedded pack:
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.
We also have some animals who sleep in the pasture:
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.
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.
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.
My family and our dairy farm are very lucky to be located between San Francisco and Yosemite in the Central Valley of California. Because of this location we are in the flight path to and from San Francisco International Airport AKA SFO. When I have a window seat I try to locate my farm as we fly over. Many times I have had a seatmate on flights thoroughly amazed I can pick my farm out from such a high elevation. If you can pick out Yosemite National Park and Half Dome you too can see our farm just a few minutes later as you head west.
We are very lucky to have awesome views of the Sierra Nevada and Coastal ranges, very often we have a front seat view of Half Dome itself.
So as you fly over my farm please wave and remember we are down here everyday working on the farm caring for the cows who are helping provide healthy food for everyone.