- What happens to bobby calves?
- Best advice to U.S. dairy farmers? 'Sell out as fast as you can'
- Owning a Family Milk Cow: Your Questions Answered
- The fate of the calf
What happens to bobby calves?
On a rain-drenched Monday, Coombs, his father and his uncle struggled to shove their last 13 cows into a trailer destined for auction and slaughter. As the earthy smell of manure filled the air, the men yelled for the Holsteins to move and urged them forward with the whack of a plastic stick. The animals mooed their dissent but finally boarded the trailer.
Coombs, 30, flung aside his stick and stormed a few yards away, breathing heavily. His family members wiped their brows and looked at Curtis and then the cows, which were sold for their meat at half their worth. At this point, even if there's a Hail Mary pass, we're done. Coombs is one of more than dairy farmers across seven states who learned in March that they would lose their contract with Dean Foods, which runs a milk processing plant in Louisville that mainly served Walmart. Dean Foods is shutting the plant at the end of the summer because Walmart is building its own processing facility in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and will work directly with dairy farms there instead.
Many of the Kentucky dairy farmers who sold their milk to Dean Foods have not yet found anyone else to buy it instead — and like Coombs, they could soon have to sell their cows. They are just the latest of more than 42, dairy farmers who have gone out of business since , casualties of an outdated business model, pricey farm loans and pressures from corporate agriculture.
There were nearly , dairy farms in the U.
Department of Agriculture. In , half of American dairy farms had 80 or fewer cows; by , that figure had risen to cows. Small dairy farmers, an aging population, were some of the last U. Hope grew when President Donald Trump tweeted support for the dairy industry in early June at the G-7 meeting in Canada, but experts and farmers say Trump mistakenly focused his ire on trade and tariffs rather than an American industry that is increasingly hostile to small-time operators.
Joe Schroeder takes calls from dozens of struggling farmers each month at Farm Aid , an organization founded by musician Willie Nelson to keep family farmers on their land.
Best advice to U.S. dairy farmers? 'Sell out as fast as you can'
Small dairy farmers make up a third to half of those calls, Schroeder said. The farmers, who often do the milking themselves or with family members and work 12 to 16 hours a day, tell him about the electricity being turned off and not having money for groceries. They ask advice on declaring Chapter 12 — bankruptcy designed for farmers. In a trend that extends back to the s but ramped up over the past decade, corporate agriculture is increasingly taking control of all stages of milk production, which can leave small farmers with fewer places to sell their milk, said Maury Cox, executive director of the Kentucky Dairy Development Council, an advocacy group.
Corporations opening milk processing plants would rather work with fewer large dairy farms than thousands of small ones, Cox added. The question is of particular relevance to dairy farmers in the Southeast, where the industry is steeped in a certain regional irony. While there is a surplus of milk nationwide, Kentucky and the Southeast face a net deficit of 41 billion pounds of milk annually, according to Mark Stephenson, a University of Wisconsin dairy economist.
That means that even as dairy farmers in these states struggle, grocery stores there are importing milk in refrigerated trucks from the Midwest. Why are Kentucky milk farmers being frozen out of the local market? Part of the answer lies with powerful dairy cooperatives, groups of farmers who work together to sell their milk. Fourteen Kentucky farmers recently tried to join the cooperative, but they were denied because the group saw them as competition, the farmers told NBC News.
Small-dairy farmers in the U. Kalmey and other dairy farmers, though, do not believe that an end to the dairy tariffs would be a solution. Some farmers worried that Trump is more likely to cause a trade war than open a new market for them — they fear losing the limited export market that the U. For , the USDA forecasts 7 percent growth.
Gary Rock, 59, lives in Hodgenville, Kentucky, an area of rolling hills and loose rock fences, on a farm that has been passed down through his family for years. Milk can only be efficiently taken from a cow when she is relaxed and ready to be milked. This is known as 'milk let-down". Unless this state has been achieved, the milk will be difficult to extract and not all of the milk she has produced will be available.
Owning a Family Milk Cow: Your Questions Answered
Nervous cows which are difficult to get into the bail or which won't settle down for easy milking will not be suitable as milking cows. These cows should be sold and replaced with cows which have a quiet and relaxed temperament. She should not be beaten or roughly handled during milking ,. You could feed her one or two kg. When the cow is in the head-bail and is eating her feed ration, you can begin milking.
The fate of the calf
Use a clean bucket which has been washed and sterilised with boiling water. Wash the udder and each teat vigorously with soap and water and dry them with a clean cloth,.
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Direct the first two squirts of milk outside the milking bucket. This milk has the most bacteria in it and should be discarded.
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Direct the squirts onto a flat surface so that any clots which are present and which indicate mastitis can be seen,. Milk the cow by ringing the base of the teat with the thumb and forefinger and using the other three fingers of the same hand to force the milk down and out of the teat.
Leave enough milk in the udder for the calf and release the calf for feeding when the milking has been completed.