Keeping our cows in good health.
Dairy farmers depend on healthy cows for their livelihoods. Dairy herds are provided with a nutritious diet, regular medical care and comfortable and clean living conditions. A cow’s health is of the utmost importance to dairy farmers, because dairy cows must be well-cared-for in order to produce high quality, wholesome milk. Animal care practices on Massachusetts dairy farms include:
- Dairy farmers employ professional nutritionists to develop a scientifically formulated, balanced and nutritious diet for their cows. Diets include hay, grains, protein sources, and a balance of essential vitamins and minerals.
- Dairy cows have access to feed as well as fresh, clean water every day. Many dairy farms use "free-stall housing," which is a type of barn that allows cows to eat, drink and sleep whenever and wherever they choose. These barns also provide shade and protection from the elements.
- Inside these barns, farmers provide comfortable bedding for the cows in the form of sand, wood chips, recycled shredded rubber or mattresses.
- Dairy cows receive regular veterinary care, including periodic check-ups, preventative vaccinations, and prompt treatment of illness.
- A cow that is being treated with antibiotics is separated from the milking herd and placed in a separate area so her milk does not enter the food supply. She is not put back into the milking herd until the antibiotics have cleared her system.
- Dairy is one of the most regulated and inspected industries in agriculture.
- Some dairy farmers crop or switch trim the tails of their animals to promote cleanliness, similar to what people do to some breeds of dogs.
- Dehorning of non-developed horn buds is a practice used to help reduce the risk of injury to cows and animal handlers. Dehorning is performed at an early age, a fairly simple procedure that doesn't require anesthesia.
- On a daily basis, cows move on their own from their stalls to the fields as well as to and from the milking parlor.