When Texas dairy farmer Sieto Mellema looks out among his 3,000 cows and thousands of acres of crops, he doesn’t see a factory. Here, Mellema discusses a question people may have about large farms: Are cows cared for better on smaller farms?
Dairy farms – whether large or small – make animal care a top priority. It’s typical for farmers to spend the majority of their operating costs on the care of their cows.
Mellema said about 80 percent of his farm’s monthly costs – well into six figures – is spent just on the well-being of his cows. This includes assuring the cows have quality feed, veterinary care and anything else they need to assure their comfort and health.
“Dairy farming is a capital-intensive endeavor and the dollars it takes to make it work are tremendous,” Mellema said. “However, we do whatever needs to be done to make sure we maintain the health and integrity of our herd. We’re not any different than the guy who has 100 cows.
“My dad always said that if you take care of the cows, the cows will take care of you. Animal welfare is extremely important because we live and die with it. If we don’t provide that, we’re done.”
Have other questions about large farms? Mellema provides other answers here.