So awhile back I told you guys that I would soon be adding some new things to the blog in 2012. Well here is one of the things I promised… The very first #DairyCandidCarrie post. So what is #DairyCandidCarrie? My friend Carrie, you met her here, is a Sheboygan mom and business owner. She has questions about food and farming and I hope to try to answer those for her. I hope you enjoy these conversations.
Today we chatted about cows….. but the conversation started when I asked her how her crazy busy life was going. @CandidCarrie is building her own business.
@CandidCarrie – Building a dynasty is a lot of work.
@DairyCarrie- So very, very true. Maybe you should just copy the Ming dynasty. It’s old and maybe no one will notice if you use it?
@CandidCarrie- I’m not a fan of Chinese. I never know how many “eeees” to put in there.
@DairyCarrie- Dang. The only other Dynasty I can come up with the the 80’s soap opera and I just can’t support you going there.
@CandidCarrie- Shoulder pads for all!
@DairyCarrie- So let’s talk food… Have any burning questions? And I mean any questions you want answered about food. Not questions about burning food. I’m sure you can handle that on your own.
@CandidCarrie- Yes. I have a burning question. Do the cows have different personalities?
@DairyCarrie- Oh good Lord, yes! It even kind of goes along with the breeds of cows. Jersey cows are the Labradors of the cow world. They love everybody and want to know what everything tastes like. Holsteins across the board tend to be all about business and not so much for shenanigans. However some are sweet and like extra attention and some can be real jerks. But that applies to all cows not just by breed.
@CandidCarrie- You just butted into my next question.
@DairyCarrie- That’s because we have the same brain.
@CandidCarrie- That means we each only have half a brain.
@DairyCarrie- On a good day… O.K. Go for the next question.
@CandidCarrie- OK, so do you let cows that aren’t of the same “race” roam together or do you keep them segregated?
@DairyCarrie- No cow segregation on our farm. They all mix together. However we do have groups of cows that live in different areas on the farm. We have one group of smaller cows that live together, one group of mature cows that live together and a group of cows that are getting closer to “dry off” that live together. Then heifers are in groups based on age and size. Dry cows also have their own group. We do this so that the bigger cows don’t pick on the little cows and so that everyone gets the right food that they need. And before you ask a “dry” cow is a cow that isn’t milking because she is getting close to having a calf. Cows have reverse maternity leave. We stop milking them 2 or so months before the calve so they can focus on growing their baby and relaxing. Then when they calve and start producing milk they go back to work.
@CandidCarrie- Well, I would have guessed that dry cow thing wrong. My first thought was “beef jerky” but I know that was wrong. Funny, but wrong.
@DairyCarrie- Bwahahaha! Dry cows, jerky… you’re killing me!
@CandidCarrie- So if the cows all live together won’t they “cow-mingle” and reproduce bovine mutts?
@DairyCarrie- Not unless they can reproduce asexually. We only have girl cows on our farm.
@CandidCarrie- So you only have girls? Do you eat dairy cows?
@DairyCarrie– Only girls produce milk so we only keep girl cows on our farm. Bull calves (boys) are sold to beef producers who raise them as steers (castrated bulls) for beef. We keep the heifer (girl) calves to become milking cows when they are old enough. A very large percentage of the beef that you get at a restaurant or store comes from Holstein steers.
@CandidCarrie– But what do you do with them when they no longer produce milk?
@DairyCarrie- When a cow is no longer able to contribute to the farm she will be sold for meat. But that doesn’t mean that cows have one calf, milk for awhile and then go in the freezer. After a dairy cow has a calf and starts milking she will eventually be bred again, dried off before calving, have a calf and start the cycle again.
@CandidCarrie- 1) how long do you “use” a cow 2) what is their average life span of work 3) have you ever kept one after it was useful “just because” 4) do you have a favorite cow? like the one that got away?
@DairyCarrie- That’s a lot of questions! An old cow can be in her teens. Which means she could have many lactation cycles under her belt. A cow will have her first calf at around 2 years of age. If things go well and the cow gets pregnant when she should a cow can have a calf about once a year. Norma is my favorite cow. She almost qualifies as a cow that got kept around just because I love her… Dairy cows get “culled” or sold for different reasons. Maybe they don’t produce very much milk and so it costs more money to feed them than what they are able to produce in milk. Maybe after having a calf they can’t see to get pregnant again and there for stop the cycle of milk production. Sometimes a cow can have an injury or illness that means they can no longer produce milk so they are sold for that reason. Sometimes a cow can be a total ass to work with and dangerous to be around, those cows get sold too. Norma was a cow that had problems getting pregnant again and I almost gave up on her. But since she is my favorite cow in the whole world we kept trying to get her pregnant and she is now expecting a bull calf in the summer.
@CandidCarrie- What is the funniest thing that you’ve ever seen a cow do on purpose?
@DairyCarrie- My favorite thing ever is the first day of spring when the weather finally allows the cows to go out to pasture. Even the oldest cows go running around and kicking up their heels and act like kids. Puts a huge smile on my face.
@CandidCarrie- What is the real name of the Oreo cows?
@DairyCarrie- Oreo cows are either Dutch Belted or Belted Galloways or some cross of those two breeds and some other breed. The cream filling part seems to get passed down for generations. You talked about mutt cows… Most of my cows are “mutts” The majority of farmers milk Holstein cows because they are bred to give the most milk. Some milk Jersey cows or Brown Swiss cows or other breeds of cows because while they make less milk each day, those cows have more butter fat and protein in their milk and farmers get paid more for higher levels in their milk. I prefer crossbred cows because I want the best of both worlds and just like there are some negative genetic traits in purebred dogs that cause problems, there are things in purebred dairy cattle that I would like to avoid.
@CandidCarrie- You should know that cows scare me. I am terrified of them. I can’t even go through the cow barns at the fair. My goosebumps get goosebumps. Really, I can barely breathe when I am around them. I am fascinated, but terrified. Oh, and the thought of making eye contact with a cow? I can’t.
@DairyCarrie- It’s ok Carrie, I understand. Kids scare the crap out of me. However I would really, really love for you to come see my cows. As a compromise I will even let you bring your kids.
Stay tuned for more #DairyCandidCarrie posts! Will @CandidCarrie come to the farm? Will she be trampled by a cow? Will @DairyCarrie get over her irrational fear of children? Find out on the next episode of #DairyCandidCarrie!
Hope you enjoyed!