From providing the right feed and good medical care, dairy farmers work closely with their employees and a network of experts to make sure their cows stay healthy and comfortable.
That’s the case on Kooistra Farms in Woodstock, Ill., where dairy farmer Linnea Kooistra lives the philosophy that “cows come first.” Here are some of the ways the Kooistras make cows a priority:
1. Keeping Things Clean: From choosing sand as their cow’s bedding, to ensuring their cows, barn and equipment are clean, Linnea, her husband Joel, and their employees prioritize best practices that help prevent illness.
2. Provide Nutritious Feed & Water: Dairy farmers work closely with animal nutritionists and veterinarians to make sure their cows have the nutritious feed they need.
3. Focusing on Comfort: Dairy farms keep their cows comfortable in many ways. This includes using fans and misters to keep cows cool during the summer, using barns that are right for their cows and climate, and other fun additions to the barn – like rotating brushes cows can lean up against.
4. Watching Cows Closely: Since the Kooistras and their employees work around their cows every day, they keep a close eye on each animal. They know that some signs, like droopy ears, may mean that a cow isn’t feeling well. If that’s the case, they can take the appropriate next steps to help get her better.
This also includes keeping an eye on the cows that have recently had a calf by monitoring her temperature and listening to her stomach they can make sure that a cow recovers after giving birth.
5. Regular Well-Being Checks: In addition to keeping an eye on their cows every day, the Kooistras welcome their veterinarian every few weeks to give the cows well-being checks. While they also can call their vet when a cow falls ill, Kooistra said they don’t need to make that call often. “It’s rare that we need to call our veterinarian for a sick cow because everything’s focused on keeping animals healthy -- that’s the name of the game,” Kooistra said.
Taking care of cows is one of the most important aspects of a dairy farmer’s job, and Kooistra’s happy to share her story.
“It’s important to educate people because there are so few people that know a farmer anymore, and they want to know how their food is produced,” she said.
Learn more at The Udder Truth.