A couple of times last weekend, I was tagged in a drone video produced by an animal rights activist group. After watching the video, I felt the need to share some of my thoughts.
The video starts by saying that this group is finally going to expose the “lies” of the dairy industry through the use of drones. This made me laugh a little because I have literally shared drones photos of my family dairy taken by my awesome brother in law. So I am not sure what “lies” they can expose. Next, there are tons of dairy producers all across America sharing photos, video, posts, going live via Instagram, Facebook and Twitter in hopes of showing people about dairy farming. Our goal is simple, to try and show you our dairies.
I live on a large family dairy. I have made that clear since the start of my blogging journey. I have never tried to hide that fact. It is something I am very proud of. There are in my opinion many things about large farms that are beneficial to not only the cows, but to improve our sustainability. You can check out more on my post here. I think there is a place for dairies of all shapes and sizes, organic and conventional. I urge you as the consumer to seek out these dairy farmers on social media. Ask them your questions and hear what they have to say.
The next statement the video makes is about the pens. Here in New Mexico and in similar mild climates, cows are housed in what we call open lot pens. These pens have a bedding of sand and compost. This is ideal bedding because it is soft on their legs when they are lying down. The pens are cleaned almost continually. We are especially diligent before and after rains because we want the pens to stay dry and clean. These open pens allow cows the opportunity to be outside in the sunshine while having large shades to offer protection from rain storms and the sun. In colder climates, cows may be housed in barns to protect them from the elements. These barns stay a consistent temperature throughout the year. I have seen several activist groups complain when cows are in barns, and now they are complaining about open lots. I am convinced nothing would make them happy.
The video then moves over the barn and the text says the cows are crowded. This could not be farther from the truth. The area they are showing is actually the holding pen. Cows walk from their pens to this holding area to wait their turn to be milked. They are only in this holding area for about 30 minutes. One important thing to remember is that most things have a pretty logical explanation if you just give dairy farmers the chance to explain the context of the video. Dairy farmers are very careful about how many cows are in each pen. A lot of thought goes into why a cow and how many cows are placed in each pen. So much thought goes into pen sorting that I will have to save it for a whole other post.
Lastly the video ends with footage of the lagoons. Did you know that dairy farmers are regulated on how much water they use? On most dairies, one gallon of water can be used as many as 4 times. The water will be used to cool the milk than it will be recycled one or more times to wash the barn. Then this water is stored in the lagoons to be used to water the crops in the field. These crops will then be harvested to feed the cows. Since 1944, dairy farmers have reduced the amount of water they use by 35%. These management changes were all voluntary and without any government mandates. With water being a limited resource in New Mexico, we want to conserve all the water we can.
With videos like this, it is important to remember you can’t believe everything you see on the internet!
I didn’t cover every single thing from the video. Some things I could have gone on and on about because there are so many lies in the video. So stay tuned and I will try work on some more posts. But if you still have some questions about dairy farming, leave a comment below. I love to hear from you all.
Udderly in love with dairy,
New Mexico Milkmaid