The most common misconception is that all dairy farmers mistreat their animals. Animal extremist work very hard to take a few bad apples and paint the rest of the industry with the same brush. The problem is that they have been doing a fabulous job. The are masters of emotions & misconception.
For far too long dairy farmers have done what they do best which is operate their farms. The issue with that is that those that do not understand the industry or even worse, those that despise the industry have been painting a very distorted picture. Now it is time for farmers to start damage control. It is time to gain consumer trust again.
Recently we were advised by our cooperative that we would be participating in this program. In addition, the hope was to have every producer in our cooperative evaluated. The vast majority already participated.
Today was our day.
I am not going to lie, having a complete stranger come on your farm to “evaluate” your operation is not something we were excited about. Not that we have something to hide, just that our farm is our baby. It felt almost like an invasion of privacy. As if a complete stranger was going to come into our home to evaluate our living conditions as well as our children.
The inspector arrived, explained how the evaluation would go and we started the tour.
We started in our calf barn. We went through the procedures of how calves are cared for on our farm. He made sure we provided our calves with colostrum, made sure they had adequate room to move around, our littlest calf made sure to put on a show, checked the cleanliness of the animals and calf stalls & of course the overall health of the kiddos.
We moved on to our older heifers. Again, he checked the cleanliness of our animals, facility & overall health. We went over the procedure of removing horns which is done on the younger calves with dehorning paste. (I will add that to the list of posts to write)
We then walked through our milk cow string & on to our dry cows. He examined the cleanliness of the cows, overall health (including lameness) & facility. While going over things standing in the midst of the dry cows, the girls made sure to give him the royal treatment. They let him know how friendly they were. I think we passed the part about not having cows that spook easily. ;)
We were then complimented on our operation as well as told he would have no problem bringing people to view our operation. Our girls were rated at 1 on all levels. A 1 being the highest you can score, woot woot!
I have to say that I was very skeptical prior to this evaluation. I think it is a great program and hope that it will help gain consumer support once again.