Watertown Holsteins Complete Herd Dispersal

The catalog for my family’s herd is up and running, folks!  Please pass this along to anyone who loves the Holstein breed!  Thank you! It is May 12 at 10:30am near Watertown, SD!

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Faith Regeneration

Faith does not proceed from ourselves, but is the fruit of spiritual regeneration.  John Calvin

That quote struck me this morning because I know that dairymen across the country have to have faith each day to continue in their farming.  Whether it’s your favorite cow about to calve or a test result you’re waiting on.  Of all the roles in agriculture I believe that dairy farming is the most emotional (and my dad agrees ;)).  The point is we cannot just strike up the faith it takes to live life on our own.  It is a gift from God that we have the strength to do the things He asks of us.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9

On our own we are mere humans, but time with God each day will renew us spiritually and through that spiritual regeneration, our faith can grow in Him.  When our faith grows, we will see God’s power in each part of our lives.  As we continue spending with time Him praying, reading His word, praising Him, and serving Him we will see and understand life from a whole different perspective designed just for us.  Dairy farming is emotional and LIFE is just plain emotional!  There are waves we have to ride out every single day, and with God’s help, no matter your profession, you can do it!!  I have had the days where I chose not put my trust in God, and believe me I could feel how weak I was on my own.  God desires to be a part of your life if you just invite Him in with a simple prayer, ‘God, help me today’. Amen and God Bless.

Faces of Farming

A big congrats to Carla a fellow dairy blogger, be sure to visit her site, Truth or Dairy.  Especially if you enjoy reading things from the dairy farmer perspective! 😉  I look forward to seeing and hearing about all the good that continues to come from the Faces of Farming. Click here to see who ALL the Faces of Farming!  Congrats folks!  Thanks for all you do for the agriculture industry.

5 Reasons Animal Welfare is Compromised

Slices of cruelty were slapped across my screen a few minutes ago from the undercover footage taken on a dairy in the Southwestern United States.  As disgusted and heartbroken as I may feel watching these videos that only display horrid and dishonorable actions, I see these type of events as more of a slice of reality.  I that because undercover videos are not going to vanish and unfortunately I don’t believe cruelty in humans or animals will ever be completely extinct either.  Even though I know that horrible events have occurred, I remain a proud member of the dairy industry.  Why?  Though it breaks my heart as an animal lover to see such awful treatment given to cows who work hard for all of us who consume dairy — we have to wake up to reality.  We need change in the dairy industry and we can’t be so angry or prideful to think that it isn’t our problem.  Here are my top five reasons why I believe that animal welfare is compromised all too often.

1.  Lack of Training

Training employees is a key piece of success to any business and ought to be a top priority to any dairyman or woman.  Successful dairy farms have easy to understand protocols, otherwise referred to as standard operating procedures (SOPs) posted on the dairy.   These are taught to all employees and the employees are expected to utilize them or seek help if needed.  I saw first-hand the success of having posted, easy to read SOPs during an internship on a large dairy in California.  However continuous training is required if a dairy wishes to see mishandling of cattle stopped for good.

2.  Lack of Animal Behavior Knowledge

This comes back to training.  Learning animal behavior is not a one time lesson for anyone.  From a dairy employee perspective to anyone who happens to watch the undercover footage, understanding the behavior of cattle comes in handy.  There are basics which can be taught to employees and then on the job training and continual guidance thereafter to ensure proper animal care.

3.  Lack of Animal Handling Skills

Another one that goes back to training.  There are basic bovine handling skills that dairy employees must develop during on the job training and then need continual guidance thereafter.  A zero tolerance policy for animal abuse should be installed.  I have seen first-hand a successful zero tolerance animal welfare program running in a large dairy in Minnesota, it is possible.

4.  Lack of Supervision 

All of us have been or will be employed at some point in our lives and we all need supervision on the job.  Without supervision I think it would be safe to say no matter the industry, employees will resort to their own way of thinking and behaving.  Without the proper accountability to a supervisor anything can happen and will happen.  I believe that most people want to succeed and want to do a good job.  Supervision and training are a form of support.  It is important to be supportive to your employees, show them how to be successful on their job and you will be successful.

5.  Lack of Attention and Care

The recent footage is another red flashing light and alarm sounding to all members and partners of the dairy industry.  This isn’t just one dairyman or dairywoman’s “problem”.  Undercover videos are a reality and will continue to surface until the dairy industry decides to give more attention and care where it is needed most.  We must have more transparent dairy farms if we want to continue dairy farming in this country as we do.  We are all responsible for the images that throw us in to a criminal category.  We have to do all we can, wherever we’re at and always be proactive to maintain high standards of care most importantly for the benefit of our dairy cattle.     

The last thing I want you to remember though you see horrible footage about dairy posted across the internet is that dairy farmers do what they do because they love dairy cattle.  Dairy farming is a way of life and the cattle a farmer owns are his or her livelihood.  Dairy farmers care deeply for their animals and know that it is best to see the cattle well fed, watered, given clean beds to sleep in and whenever necessary given veterinary care.  Cows are amazing creatures and work hard, but only for people who work hard to care for them.  There are changes needed in the dairy industry, but I can assure you that dairymen and women are working to improve it and take better care of their animals.  Please feel free to ask questions or comment in the comment section below.