Yesterday we made a change on our farm. We are hoping this to be a profitable and worthwhile adjustment to our business. Starting last night, we went back to milking our cows three times a day. We were doing this prior to Henry being born. But with the chaos of a baby, said baby making two trips to Akron Children’s Hospital and my dad having rotator cuff surgery, went back to twice a day milking.
Now for those of you not familiar with farming, you may be wondering why we would choose to milk our cows more than the traditional twice a day. Some of you may be far enough away from farming to not realize cows are already being milked twice a day. I hope not, you’re missing out!
Milking cows is very comparable to breast feeding, if you’ve ever been a nursing mother this will be easy to understand. If not, bear with me this was the best comparison I could think of. Every lactating animals milk supply follows a supply and demand type production. The more frequently a baby nurses, the more milk mommy gives. So by milking the cows an additional milking (think pumping to mommies), we are increasing the demand. Very simple principles. We milk them more often they give more milk. This increases production the most naturally.
We’ve learned a lot of things since beginning milking three times a day originally. For starters you must have enough help milking. No one wants to be a zombie milking cows. This is a miserable feeling. Cows do not care if you’re tired or sick, they treat you just the same. We’ve utilized a college that is close to us for our labor needs. It’s kind of neat to watch how some of these kids change in the year or two the work for us.
Secondly, if you want to improve production you must have happy, healthy cows. Yes happy! Cow comfort is a big deal. They must have comfy beds and tasty food to want to give us more dairy goodness than they already are. Are you productive if you’re uncomfortable, hungry and tired? I think not.
We made the change in an effort to take advantage of a booming milk market right now. Prices are record high for quality milk. I think often times the consumer forgets that farms are businesses. Our goal is to pull a profit. There’s nothing wrong with making money. I know of no business owner who has the goal to lose money.
You may be thinking, Ok you’ve told me all these reasons that are good for you, what about Bessie standing in the barn? And if you’re wondering, no we do not currently have a cow named Bessie. The more you milk hypothetical Bessie, the more comfortable her udder is. Stop and go back to the nursing mom. Think of the first time your little one slept thru the night. Yea, they feel that way too when they’re full. With an udder that isn’t brimming to the top every time she enters the parlor Bessie is more comfortable. She’ll be able to relax more in a stall and just may be tempted to eat more of her tasty food. With some of our girls giving upwards of 120 pounds a day, they want the relief!
Next time you hear of a farmer milking their cows more often, don’t think we’re trying to turn them in to constant milk machines. While they are giving us more milk, they are giving it to us because they are naturally producing more from being happy and comfortable. I haven’t seen too many unhappy animals or people ever be to productive!