To dock or not to dock?

Farmers have the choice to dock or not to dock, but they may not be able to soon

Although many Canadian dairies do not practice tail docking it is an animal welfare issues and now research has proven that tail docking really has no benefit.  Prior to the study farmers believed that chopping off cows tails would benefit by improving cow cleanliness, cleaner cows that are less prone to disease infection and working contracting leptospirosis.  The study concluded that cows who have their tail docked are no cleaners than those with full length.  Nor do cows with short tails have reduced susceptibility to infection and cannot transmit diseases to workers.  Studies found that tail docking is painful to the animals, as well as can contribute to nerve damage to the cow’s tail head.  The cows can also no longer use their tails as natural fly swatters.  Tail docking has been outlawed in many European countries and in California just last year.


China farming dairy in New Zealand

Cattle grazing in some of NZ beautiful countryside

New Zealand may soon be seeing the largest overseas purchase of a dairy farm from China.  Valued at $1.5 billion Crafar Farms is the largest privately owned dairy operation in NZ. The farm made headlines last year for environmental and animal welfare problems and was ordered to pay $200 million which it then went into receivership last October.  The sale has become highly political as the NZ government is unsure of how this situation will play out.  They are looking at the sale as a ‘guinea pig’ type experiment for other overseas agricultural investments.  Until this date no other overseas ag investments have carried such a large price tag.  Other interested parties include the NZ public which are very skeptical of allowing China to take root in their country.

Dairy farming from a younger prospective

Calvin is very passionate about agriculture and hopes to one day own his own farm

Living on a dairy farm is great, I love it. The things that I like about living on a dairy farm are; first off it is very educational you learn all about cows and other animals and how to take care of them. The second reason is that I have learned how to drive tractors, run machinery, fix machinery and run tractors with machinery on them. I plan on living on a dairy farm when I am older. The third reason I like living on a dairy farm is that you have lots of land for recreational purposes… otherwise FOUR-WHEELING…my favourite pastime. Farming teaches you responsibility, and appreciation for animals. Our farm is a ”family farm” meaning we all have a role to play to keep our farm successful. I am very proud to be a part of our farm and I plan on keeping the farm going to the next generation.

By Calvin Kelderman

Calvin is my younger brother and is very passionate about dairy farming.  He is currently in grade 8 at H.H. Langford PS and will be attending high school in the fall.

Heating your home with dairy

Heat from cow's milk is a new innovative way in which dairy farmers are heating their homes

Home heating just became more affordable for dairy farmers.  A system that uses the heat given off milk to heat homes is becoming more popular in Canadian barns and homes over the past few years.  The system allows farmers to heat their entire house for virtually free, no more oil, wood or electric bills!  When the milk is taken from the cows it is around the body temp of the cow, it travels through the pipeline and into the bulk tank when it is cooled to around 4C.  The heat has to be taken out of the milk in order for it to reach the 4C that is needs to be.  This new system of home heating form the barn simply filters the milk heat into your home.  The catch is that for it to be sustainable it requires a minimum of a 100 head herd.  Dairy farmers are continuing to find new sustainable and renewable ways to use the resources on their farms and this is just another excellent innovative idea!

Improving the appearance of dairy farms gives better public opinion

A fall shot of my siblings and I in our front yard at our dairy farm Enrico Farms

There is no doubt that successful dairy farmers are indeed well managed at multitasking.  Taking care of their animals, fields and property.  An area of improvement however is the regulation of property appearance.  There are no standards that farmers have to follow in accordance to properties appearance.  Some farms look like old rundown lots where the grass is never cut and old broken down machinery sits in the front yard.  The diary industry is all about providing milk and milk products to the public.  Like it or not urbanites imagine that the milk they purchase comes from a picturesque rural dairy farm.  On my home farm it is very important to my family that our property is aesthetically pleasing towards anyone who drives by on the highway.  I’m not saying that huge adjustments and regulations have to be put in place.  As the real ambassadors to the dairy world, we should be embracing our farming property as a dairy oasis- it’s not just about producing milk after all.

Potential for European dairies to mimic North America

European dairy farmers fear that they will be pushed out of business if large herd operations are approved

Nocton Farms has presented UK farmers with a new concept never seen before in Europe- an 8000 cow dairy.  The idea of opening such a large farming operation has created a lot of controversy among farmers, activists and the general European public.  European farmers pride themselves on the fact that their products can always be easily traced back to the farm from which they came from.  Many fear that introducing a large dairy will cause a lag in product recognition in Europe.  Other concerns expressed include animal welfare issues, environmental issues and a loss of the family farm.  A CNN article reported on the various opinions of Europeans on the matter of either accepting or declining the new farm.  Personally I feel that Europe has never seen such a farm size before and this scares them.  Because they are not supply managed I feel that if they allow large factory dairies to take up roots Europe dairy farmers will be overall worse off.

Lactose intolerance- a possible myth

Do yourself a favour and drink the real deal!

Individuals who call themselves “lactose intolerant” may not need to avoid dairy products any more say researchers at the National Institutes of Health conference.  They blame the uncertainty on literally no research being done on lactose intolerance in humans.  They outlined that it maybe possible for adults to consume at least 12grams (equivalent of 1 cup of milk) per day without experiencing painful symptoms.  As I have outlined in many of my other blogs milk is an excellent source of numerous vitamins and minerals.  Many would argue that the same can be consumed  via eating an array of other foods and yes that is true.  But lots of research also points out that consuming milk and milk products everyday leads to decreased obesity and an overall more healthy lifestyle too.  I have also learned that one can counter act being lactose intolerance by simply eating small amounts of dairy products daily to build up an immunity from milk proteins.  So the next time you reach for soy milk cause the real stuff makes you sick- do yourself a favour and try a glass of the real stuff!