Monday, June 7, 2010

How are dairy cows really treated?

You're probably in the minority if you haven't see or at least heard of the video footage shot by Mercy for Animals of an individual beating and torturing cows right here in Ohio at Conklin Dairy Sales in Plain City. If you're unfamiliar with dairy farming or have never been to a farm, you might understandably have some questions about how dairy cows and calves are treated. Is this terrible injustice part of the standard operating procedures for dairy farms? Or is this case of extreme mistreatment that is the exception to the rule?
Since we're posting about dairy cows all month in honor of National Dairy month, I wanted to take the time to share with you agriculture's side of the story, too. That's my good buddy the Farmgirl up above, back in the days when she worked for us here at OARDC giving tours of our campus. She's the amazing blogger over at Farmgirl Follies, and she's the one who inspired our cool butter making tutorial last week. If you check out her blog (do, do!) check her post where her hubbie named his cows after ex-girlfriends. :)

So anyway, we have a dairy operation here at OARDC. Our cows are Holsteins (black and white). They are well-cared for and valued...they are a big investment to us not only as livestock but also for the research we do to improve dairy production operation and efficiency along with animal health and welfare. We even have some unusual the one shown above with the fistula or "hole" in her side. She's even more valuable to us, because she allows us to do specialized digestive research. People always ask us about the cow with the window in it's side (apparently we used to be well-known for that). But as you can see, it's not really that exciting to look at. And no, it doesn't hurt's really no different than a body piercing on a person, except that the fistula provides an invaluable research tool for our dairy scientists.

I'd like to suggest that before accepting that the video footage filmed and promoted by Mercy for Animals is standard operating procedure for dairy operations you take a moment to check out what some real-life dairy farmers and professionals have to say about how their cows are treated. I'm sure any of them would welcome questions and love to talk to you more if you have concerns.

1) Here's a link to an article by Dr. Donald Sanders, one of our own Ohio State University large animal vets who has actually made on-farm calls to the farm in question. He's been there, done that and actually knows about Conklin Diary Sales personally. The article shares his thoughts on the video and what he has seen in his real-life visits to that farm on other occassions.

2) Check out the girls over at Two Maids a Milking. These real-life, college-educated, Indiana farm girls tell it like it is when it comes to talking about life on their dairy farm. They'll tell you their cows are ladies and that the cows always come first, even before Thanksgiving dinner on occasion!

3) The Dairy Mom is a California transplant but third generation dairy producer who is dairying with her family right here in northeastern Ohio. She has great real-life farm pics and does a great job showing and explaining how the cows and calves on their farm are cared for each and everyday. She talks about antibiotic use and environmental concerns.

3) Right now there's a milk mustache contest going on over at The Dairyman's Blog. This Alabama dairyman gives regular updates on life at his farm...everything from his heifers getting into trouble and the quick rescue that ensued to field work updates.

4) Stop by to meet the farmers behind the Borden Milk brand (a 100% farmer-owned cooperative) as they show you around their farms. Several of them are even from Ohio, like the Pfeifer family of Bucyrus and the Griffith family of Bethel.

5) And if you're looking to add a little fun to your Twitter, follow the dozen cows from Ontario that are tweeting about their life on the farm at the Teet Tweet Dairy Diary. From their daily milk production to poetic quotes, you never know what these cows will be tweeting about.

Hope you enjoy the reads!

Tuesday Tag-Along


    found you on Tuesday Tag Along


  2. Thanks for linking up with us for FMBT. I am now following you back. Have a great week !!
    Staycee ( Survey Junkie )

  3. Hi there!I'm now following you from FMBT!

    You can find me at


  4. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!
    We're dairy farmers in NY...and I LOVE people who promote the fact that only a VERY few instances of cow abuse actually occur (and what about child abuse?? There's LOTS more!!)
    Now...if we could just work on getting paid better for all our hard work!!
    I'm your newest follower from TTA...please visit my blog when you get a chance!
    Jennifer @ The Craft Barn

  5. Excellent blog!!! Stopping in from TTA. My daughter loves science and we have friends who are dairy farmers only a couple of miles from us and we are very involved in 4-H rabbits and cats. Looking forward to reading more of your posts and sharing them with my daughter.


  6. from FMBT and wanted to say hi.
    Take a minute an check my blog out if you haven't already.
    I have lots of great giveaways going on.
    Thanks :)

  7. IT's always good to hear two sides of the the story whether than what the media always portrays. I'm following you from fmbt. Stop by if you get a chance:

  8. Happy Follow Me Back Tuesday! You have a really great blog here!

    I'm your newest follower...if you get a chance could you please follow me too at

    Have a great day!

  9. Happy Follow Me Back Tuesday.
    I am following you too.
    Have a great day.

  10. I love cows...I love milk! Great post!

  11. This is fantastic reading! Thanks!

    I am hopping over from Follow Me Back Tuesday!

    I am now a follower. See you soon! (c:

  12. Following you from FMBT! Please stop by Dropped Stitches to follow me back!

    xo Erin

  13. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I am now following you too. What a great post about farm life. Very interesting information. Have A Great Week! :o)


  14. Fabulous information!!! thanks for highlighting June as dairy month and turkey lovers month.

  15. I am your newest follower from Friendly Friday! Would love for you to stop by my blog also!
    Have a great weekend!

  16. I am your newest follower from FF! I'd love for you to visit/follow me at

  17. Hey!! thanks for sharing about how to make butter. I never knew it was that simple. gr8! am following you. Do visit my page;)


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