Unless you’re a dairy farmer, you probably don’t know. I don’t know either, but I do feel lucky that I can at least check out the cows that provide my milk. I buy my milk from Merrymead Farm. It’s an adventure when I take the kids with me to buy milk. You can walk around and check out a giant hog, some rabbits, donkeys, goats, peacocks, chickens and all the cows. Sometimes the cows are out grazing in the field. Sometimes they’re in the barn eating. You can watch them line up to be milked. You can even watch them during the milking process. 5 feet stands between you and your potential milk source. If you’re lucky, they might even amble up to the window and moo at you. This scenario is more than enough for me to feel comfortable with how the cows are treated that produce my milk.
All that aside, the real goal of any dairy farmer is to get his cows to produce as much milk as possible. That can be accomplished with rBST injections, with painkillers do dull any discomfort, and unnatural diets that increase the amount of physiological issues requiring medication. All bad methods, and yet common practices in the commercial production of milk. Remember – rBST, painkillers, antibiotics all end up in your milk. Research shows that cows will naturally produce more milk when they are happy and content. I can’t even cite one source because there are so many out there. I dare you to google it. Any woman who has ever breastfed probably understands this fact.
Yesterday, I read an interesting and somewhat entertaining article about alternative approaches that some dairy farmers are taking to keep their cows happy, and they are seeing positive results. Chiropractic sessions to avoid painkillers. Water beds to take some of the pressure off their joints. Misting in the barns to cool down the animals. Even naming the cows can help them produce more milk.
Cows may not be the smartest animal on the planet, but they too feel pain and discomfort. They respond positively to human interaction and good treatment. While I’m not suggesting that we all run out and find a dairy farm that gives its cows daily massages, but it can’t hurt to know what kind dairy farm is producing your milk. A little education might change your mind about where to invest your milk money.