Modern dairy farms today are nothing like they used to be. They have huge steel buildings, heavy machinery, and lots of cows.
And that’s a good thing! Today’s dairy cows are far more comfortable and productive than they used to be. Dairymen strive to offer similar comforts to cows as cities offer to humans, yet the unfortunate thing is we get lambasted by society for it. Do you like to live with a roof over your head, a comfortable bed to sleep in, and food readily supplied to you? Then why aren’t you okay with a dairyman providing the same for their cattle?
The beds are made, but the cows are still hanging out at the breakfast buffet… This isn’t a “factory farm,” it’s an all inclusive bovine luxury resort!
Our society today has done a great job of humanizing livestock, much to the detriment of the industry. Yet if we are going to humanize dairy cows, then let’s do it realistically: expecting all dairy cows to be productive on an open range with a pasture grass only diet is about like expecting all people to be productive while living in a cave and gathering nuts and berries. I’m sorry to burst your bubble Chipotle. Oh, and those talking cows you see on TV? That’s not realistic…
Yes, there are still regions of the world where native tribes pretty much live that way today, and there are regions where cattle can thrive on rangeland. But the overwhelming majority of the United States has moved away from primitive ways of living, and the overwhelming majority of dairy cows have modern comforts too. Think about it, how much time and energy would you have for your productive career if you first had to hunt and gather your meals each day? In the same way a milk cow out on pasture has to work really hard just to get a full belly. We build big barns and deliver feed to them so the cows can relax and just make milk.
For more about conventional dairy cow rations watch this video: https://youtu.be/1KhZw1N1_I4
Don’t assume it’s a “factory farm” when you see a dairy with steel buildings, heavy machinery, and lots of cows. The truth is that those cows are enjoying the comforts of modern society just like you are, so raise a glass of cold milk today and support a dairyman near you!
Jason Mast is a fourth generation farmer born and raised in the Central Valley. He is a Cal Poly San Luis Obispo graduate with a degree in Agriculture Science, and currently works alongside his father and brother to manage their dairy in Denair, CA.