El Niño Brings Much Needed Rain and Some Challenges

By Richard Wagner, a dairy farmer from California's Central Valley.

During the past five years, I’ve thought more about water than I care to admit. As a dairy farmer in California, the scarceness of water has worn on me as I think about how I’m going to keep my cows comfortable and healthy. Even as water tables dropped, we still needed to provide fresh water for our cows, because without fresh water to drink and more water to grow feed, our cows don’t make milk.

Keeping Cows Comfortable Tops Our To-Do List

Cow comfort is one of the most important things dairy farmers do for their cows. When animals are happy and treated well, they respond by producing more milk. At Fair Oaks Farms, we pay special attention to animal husbandry or cow comfort. We have a staff of veterinarians, animal nutritionists and herdsmen available 24 hours a day to attend to any cow’s health needs. This includes protecting cows from wind and moisture, keeping weather troughs clean and warm, and keeping their walking areas clear.

Ear Tags Much More than Cow ‘Bling’

Much of Kirsten Areias’ world is black and white.

It’s what the California dairy farmer sees when she looks out among the 300 or so dairy cows on her farm – black and white Holsteins.

“They’re not easy to tell apart,” she says.

This is why dairy farmers like Areias and others around the country give each calf an ear tag that dangles like an earring just moments after birth. Each tag has a number that serves as a lifelong identification of the cow.

Much of Kirsten Areias’ world is black and white.

Dairy Farmers Prioritize Keeping Cows Cool During Hot Summer Months

Cool cows are comfortable cows, which is why throughout the United States dairy farmers work hard to make sure their cows stay comfortable all year round.

Since summers in Hanford, Calif., often creep past 100 degrees, dairy farmer Brian Medeiros has continued to explore ways to help his cows stay cool.

Medeiros’s barns already featured fans and misting water jets, but recently he added new technology to find out what more he could do. Using infrared cameras, Medeiros found that some cows would get really hot during the day, while others would stay comparatively cool.

Cow Nutrition: What Do Cows Eat?

March is Nutrition Month, a great time to not only brush up on what’s best for you and your family, but also to better understand all that dairy farmers do to take great care of their cows on a daily basis – a commitment dairy farmers have embraced for generations.

“From my grandfather milking cows when I was a little boy to now, we take the quality of milk that we sell very seriously and the health of our cows as well,” said Ted Vander Schaaf of Vander Schaaf Farms in Kuna, Idaho.

Cow Comfort Comes First in Dairy Barns

Across the country, people envision farms based on what they may see driving a country road or traveling the interstate. In fact, barns come in all shapes and sizes – from little, red barns to big, open barns. But, farmers decide on barn styles for different reasons.

On Jessica Folkema’s dairy in Michigan, freestall barns work well for their cows. These barns, which are long rectangular shapes with open sides, provide plenty of space for cows to move around, or lie down and relax in sand bed stalls. 

How Dairy Farmers Care for Calves

Cows come first on a dairy farm. That’s because farmers know that well-cared for cows are healthy cows that give safe, wholesome milk. To make sure that their cows are healthy as can be, farmers go to great lengths by providing nutritious feed, safe housing and individual care to their animals throughout their lives.

By Richard Wagner, a dairy farmer from California's Central Valley. During the past five years, I’ve thought more about water than I care to admit. As a dairy farmer in California, the scarceness...
Cow comfort is one of the most important things dairy farmers do for their cows. When animals are happy and treated well, they respond by producing more milk. At Fair Oaks Farms, we pay special...
By LuAnn Troxel Indiana Dairy Farmer Our farm’s barn offers a source of relaxation for our cows after they’ve been milked. Here, they have all-day access to fresh feed and water, and clean...
Much of Kirsten Areias’ world is black and white. It’s what the California dairy farmer sees when she looks out among the 300 or so dairy cows on her farm – black and white Holsteins. “They’re...
Cool cows are comfortable cows, which is why throughout the United States dairy farmers work hard to make sure their cows stay comfortable all year round. Since summers in Hanford, Calif., often...
March is Nutrition Month, a great time to not only brush up on what’s best for you and your family, but also to better understand all that dairy farmers do to take great care of their cows on a...
Across the country, people envision farms based on what they may see driving a country road or traveling the interstate. In fact, barns come in all shapes and sizes – from little, red barns to big,...
Cows come first on a dairy farm. That’s because farmers know that well-cared for cows are healthy cows that give safe, wholesome milk. To make sure that their cows are healthy as can be, farmers go...
When winter sets in on a dairy, farmers pay special attention to two things: Their cows and the weather. To make sure their cows are comfortable all winter long, dairy farmers like Melissa...