Dairy Farming Strategies

Dairy cow with calf Dairy farming is a complicated business because the farmer has to keep the cows on a schedule in order to maintain a steady supply of milk year round. A cow must be at least two years old before she is bred, and she is able to make milk only after she has given birth to a calf. The milk that the cow produces is food for her young. However, even after the calf is older and weaned, the mother continues to produce extra milk that humans can use for food.

Cows have similar gestation or pregnancy periods as humans. A female cow is pregnant for nine months, and the farmer stops milking her two months before her next calf is due so that she will stop producing milk and become "dry." She starts making milk again once her calf is born. Therefore, you can probably imagine how a dairy farmer must keep track of every cow in the herd and maintain a breeding schedule so that there is enough milk being produced for us to drink throughout the whole year.

Now you are starting to get an idea of how complicated dairy farming actually is. As you have learned, the dairy farmer faces many daily decisions that affect you because you depend on the cow and the farmer for food. Since the quality of the cow's milk depends partly on the food she eats, the farmer must make wise decisions when feeding the cows. The amount and type of food that the cow eats will affect the amount as well as quality of milk that the cow produces. However, the farmer must weigh the benefits of increased production against the costs of operation when deciding on a feeding strategy.

Cow feeding


Assignment: Write a creative short story on the life of a dairy cow starting with birth. From the cow's point of view, you may want to talk about daily routines as well as different events that occur throughout your lifetime.

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