Thursday, July 2, 2015

Dairy Farmers Are OCD About Milk Safety

Call us crazy, but dairy farmers are ocd about milk safety. All down the line from when the cow is milked to when the milk leaves the farm the farmers are checking and double checking the safety of the milk.

Monday, June 22, 2015

You'll Get More With Dairy

Letting my oldest, the county June Dairy Month Chairperson, guest post today. Here is her recent essay.

Every morning when I wake up I immediately head to the kitchen for some milk and my favorite cereal, Froot Loops. When I sit down, I look out my window to see the milk truck driving by. In it I know is my family’s milk. The milk truck will take our milk to the processor and then take it to your breakfast table. But how exactly do you get more with milk? I am Catherine Bright,our county's 4-H dairy chairwoman, and this is how you get more with milk.

Milk is a great way to stay healthy. Not only does it possess tons of nutrients, but it also has other health benefits. Did you know that drinking milk can lower the risk of certain types of cancer by 35 percent? Or that consuming milk, or other dairy products, can reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure in adults and obesity? I mean, one cup of 1 percent milk has the calcium of 10 cups of raw spinach. Moms, trust me on this one, most kids would prefer milk over spinach any day.

Some other nutrients found in milk include protein, phosphorus and magnesium. These keep your bones and teeth strong and healthy and also helps in their development. These are certainly all ways that you can get more with milk.

I am an avid dancer, and after three long dance classes I am extremely tired, hungry and thirsty. So, when I get to the car I am so excited to see a bottle of cold chocolate milk waiting on me.  When I ask my Dad why he got me milk instead of a sports drink or water he tells me that milk has carbohydrates, proteins, fluids and electrolytes that you need to stay energized.  “Besides,” he says, “chocolate milk is a way better recovery drink than any ol’ sports drink!”  Even professional athletes include chocolate milk in their workout. They include it because it strengthens their muscles and doesn’t keep them as sore the next day. Milk really is a great way to refuel after a long practice. Trust me, I know.

Milk is something I love and try to drink as much as possible. It has nutrients that strengthen my muscles to better help me dance and work. However, some of the people who need milk the most are unable to get it. There are actually 1.1 million people in Tennessee who are food insecure, and this includes 400,000 children. One item that most families request is milk.

On May 31, the Great American Milk Drive began, and for the rest of June, which is dairy month, each 4-H region of Tennessee will compete to donate milk to these families. You can donate by going to Milk Life and entering in your zip code for the area you would like to donate to. Every donation could help someone else get more with milk.

Milk is a great way to stay fit and healthy, and I think it is delicious. You can most definitely get more out of milk. From the nutrients to the prices, milk cannot be beat.  I know that milk helps to strengthen my muscles, teeth and bones. So, it seems that you really can get more with milk.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Inside Out: What Are Dairy Cows Thinking

The new Pixar movie Inside Out is coming soon and I know my family is looking forward to going to see it.

It imagines our emotions being characters in our heads and how they interact. My first thoughts on dairy cows is that there must be a couple in their heads that do nothing but watch and wait for me to get close to the cow's rear end.

"Is The Farmer in range?"

"He's not in the full splatter zone. Wait!"

"Is he there yet?"

"Getting closer!"



And that's when they press the "go potty" button and my t-shirt and jeans get an instant brown tie-dyed look.

Maybe we can't actually get a view of a cow's brain or have a conversation with her about her feelings, but we can watch her because actions really do speak louder than words. As I write this our cows are all laying in the pasture after the morning milking. Full, content cows taking a nap is a good sign. Most are chewing their cud and simply resting.

As it gets closer to lunch I know they are hungry because they will be lining up at the gate to come in to eat.

There are many things that can frighten the girls from loud noises or "funny" smells (cows have a keen sense of smell) to visitors to the farm. When those incidences occur the cows will often put their noses in the air and raise their ears to figure out what's going on. If they feel threatened they will run. Cow care and cow comfort, therefore, are a top priority on any farm.

Happy, content cows eat and milk well. When cows refuse to eat, go down in milk, or don't go in to be milked at their regular spot in line then we also know something is wrong. Paying attention to the cows and how they act with others and during their normal daily routine is very important if we want to know what they are thinking and therefore how they feel.

Maybe cows can't verbalize it, but how they act is as good as speaking. Of course, there may be good reasons for cows not talking. Dairy cows have been know to be a little sassy!


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Super Powered Cows

Should cows have super powers? If they had them would they use them for good or evil?

We had three heifers answer those questions this winter on our farm. They had the ability to jump fences in a single bound. Their leader, who we'll refer to as Zod, would challenge them to leap the fence from their pasture into the adjoining field of ryegrass. Thus the question of "is the grass always greener on the other side" answered. At least for them.

Like the three Kryptonians Superman faced in Superman II and the Man of Steel, these superpowered cows did not use their abilities for the greater good. Eventually we caught them and two saw the error of their ways and pledged to only use their powers for good. Zod, however, did not calm down, nor did she make any agreements.

So we exiled her to the phantom zone.

Ok, so technically we didn't send her into a flying square rotating in space, We did send her to be sold at the stockyard. It was disappointing to see a nice animal leave, but if she could not abide by the rules then she could not stay. Even if she had super powers!