Morning Milking Musings: Magic 8 (GMO)Ball

Hello All!

I hope your Christmas was wonderful and that you all enjoyed delicious treats! Did any of those delicious treats contain GMOs?

I see so many labels that say “GMO free” on them, even things that are not food items.  There are a lot of articles out there that are meant to scare you, the consumer, away from GMOs. There are a lot of articles out there that also explain why GMOs, in fact, will not harm your health.  Given this is a morning musing, and is meant to be quick and to the point, I will not go into those details.

I will say, however, that some of the labels that read “GMO free” are about as useful as those that read “contains milk” on a gallon of 2%. Why? Because there are only 8 GMOs.

  1. Corn
  2. Cotton
  3. Canola
  4. Alfalfa
  5. Sugar Beets
  6. Papaya
  7. Squash
  8. Soybeans

Have a Happy New Year!

❤ Meg

A House Is Not A Home…

Hey all!

I don’t know about you, but where I live, its in the teens with a wind chill in the negatives. So, needless to say, I’m very thankful to be in my cozy house today with a hot cup of coffee (or 3).  In the winter, I love curling under a blanket with my fleece leggings on while either watching Criminal Minds (my guilty pleasure) or reading a magazine or good book.  We have a space heater that keeps the living room toasty, and sometimes I like to light candles around the house for a little smell good glow! What makes your house cozy in the cold snap of winter?

So – on to a dairy calf’s house.  I’ve seen a few posts on social media lately with a picture of a dairy calf in a hutch, a small shelter surrounded by a wire enclosure that the calf usually stays in until weaning. Most dairy farms house their calves in these hutches, and for good reason! And first and foremost, pictures of calves in hutches are not veal calves to be sold for meat.  They are the future generation of that farm’s dairy herd!

One of the ladies on a dairy girl Facebook group I am apart of explains it excellently: The calves in their hutches are like babies in a nursery.  That’s exactly the stage in their life they are at.  And so each calf has their own “bassinet” (their hutch) just like each human baby would in a nursery.

Each hutch allows the farmer or calf caretaker to give specific individual care to each calf as they stop by each one.  You can check how much they have eaten and how much water they have had to drink, how they are looking, and if they are feeling good. Just like if you were to feed a bunch of toddlers out of one bowl, you couldn’t see how much each one ate, right? And when all of the kids that play together in a daycare get sick, its hard to figure who was the first, right? Hence, why its easier  for dairy farmers to watch each calf’s health and well-being if they are each in their own individual hutch.

Also, as you well know, kids in daycare spread germs because they are touching each other and the same inanimate objects all day long, thus once one gets sick, they all do.  After calves drink their milk, they like to suck on everything around them in addition to each other  – spreading germs the same way young children do.  Living in individualized hutches keeps calves from doing that so they have less of a risk of getting sick.

Continuing with the disease prevention goal, obviously cleanliness is important too.  It takes less time and is easier to clean one room than it does the whole house, correct? Same with hutches.  The hutches are also usually made of heavy duty plastic with a perimeter of wire fencing, both of which are easy to move around, making cleaning all the more easier.

These hutches also have vents on the sides and top for nice ventilation – no one likes a stuffy house!

And because each calf has a their own little space, they can choose to go outside and soak up some sunshine or play in some rain, or stay inside their hutch and lay down all day.

Now, I’m not pretending hutches are the perfect calf house.  It wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t explain all sides to the story and I want this blog to be open about agriculture.  The industry is looking at other ways to house calves because each farm is different and some things can be better done in a different housing situation.

Hutches are harder to keep warmer in the winter – farmers usually pile the straw inside heavy or maybe even have heat lamps and also put calf coats on the calves (yes, they have winter coats too!).  Also, if a calf is not feeling like coming out of her hutch, someone has to go get her when it’s meal time, and those hutches aren’t easy to get into (unless you are bite sized like me), and that’s also after you have already climbed over the wire fence. Now, multiply that by say 10 calves that need to be looked at closer than from outside the hutch.  Is anyone else seeing a little P90x action going on?

Furthermore, each hutch will have to have it’s own set of buckets for food and water, and its more labor intensive to feed row after row of calves their bottles of milk.  Some of the bigger dairy farms can have 50 – 100 + calves to feed at a time – you can easily see the struggle.  Plus, in winter, you can imagine how fun (I say this with the heaviest sarcasm) it would be to trudge around outside feeding calves and probably also getting a little path shoveling in between hutches as well (P90x part 2 coming at ya!).  That cup of coffee and those fleecy pants would be well earned!

The farm I work for doesn’t have hutches – they have individual stalls much like at a horse stable for their calves.  But I still have to do the trudging back to the calf barn along the Great Ice Path!

Whew, that was a lot longer than I thought. I’m glad  I didn’t make it a Morning Milking Musing – its half a novel, not just a quick musing!

 

Happy snowy blowy trails, all!

❤ Meg

 

Morning Milking Musings: Somewhere On A Beach…..

As we are buried under like half a foot of snow and more to come until tomorrow afternoon in addition to the start of temperatures under 30 degrees, I’m dreaming of those hot summer days where I was sweating through my shirt wishing for cooler ones.  During the dog days of summer I’m always reminding myself the sweat and scorching sun is what I’ll be wishing for on days like today. I’m always right.

So what’s the perfect day outside you dream of? Laying out on a beautiful beach drinking a margarita? That’s the group I’m part of! Are you part of the group that thrives on a chilly winter’s day out on the slopes followed by an evening with your hands wrapped around a mug of hot chocolate curled up by the fire?

What do you think a cow’s perfect day outside consists of? On a farm, most milk cows hang out all day inside a barn in order to be able to lay down peacefully and comfortably, in addition to their feed not more than a walk a few feet away.  However, sometimes different groups of non-milking cows or younger cows (a post on the different groups will be written later – be on the lookout!) hang out at least partially outside.  So is their perfect day a balmy 70 degrees Farenheit? No, remember cows have a body full of hair, so that would be like wearing a heavier coat all the time.  That would be a bit too toasty. So is it a cool 25 degrees Farenheit?   Also no, just like us, cows get cold and can use a lot of energy to stay warm, energy that therefore is not there to be used to make milk.  Just like when you feel drained of energy after spending time outside.

So what is the perfect temperature for our bovine friends? 50 – 60 degrees Farenheit.

 

There’s your bovine fact of the day! Stay warm and stay safe!

❤ Meg