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All About Cows

Summer on Our Farms

Summer is always a busy time on the farm. There’s hay to be made, events hosted, all on top of every day chores. Here are some pictures of what’s been going on at our dairies.

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Our cows are enjoying the pasture life.
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We have new babies born everyday. This sweet girl is a Brown Swiss.
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With the recent warm weather, the corn has really grown!

 

Sassy Cow in new barn
Our dry cows at our organic farm are enjoying their new barn.
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Hay is made about three times per year on both farms. This cropped hay will become cow food for the upcoming year.
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This is the tractor we use to cut the hay.
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Some dry cows at our traditional dairy hang out in the shade on the first day of summer.

Interested in coming to visit? Contact Mara at 608-837-7766 or mara@sassycowcreamery.com.

 

12 Fun Cow Facts for June Dairy Month

Happy June Dairy Month! Around here, June is one of our favorite months because the weather starts getting nice, we host events and we get to celebrate a whole month devoted to dairy!

To kick off June Dairy Month, here are 12 fun cow facts you may not have known.

  1. Cows are social animals and naturally form herds. Within the herd they have friends as well as cows they avoid.
  2. Cows have one stomach with four digestive compartments: the rumen, reticulum, omasum and abomasum.
  3. The average cow drinks about 30 gallons of water per day.
  4. A cow’s heart beats between 60 and 70 beats per minute.
  5. An average dairy cow weighs about 1,200 pounds. But their weight and size will vary with breed.
  6. There are six main breeds of dairy cows: Ayrshire, Brown Swiss, Guernsey, Holstein, Jersey and Milking Shorthorn.
  7. Most dairy animals have their first calf when they are 2 years old; this is when they start producing milk.
  8. Just like people, cows are pregnant for 9 months.
  9. When a calf is born, it can weigh 80-120 pounds. The average Holstein calf is about 100 pounds at birth.
  10. Cows have a great sense of smell and can detect scent from roughly 6 miles away.
  11. The average cow will eat about 100 pounds of feed per day.
  12. Cows have 32 teeth, 8 incisors on the bottom front and then 6 molars on the top and bottom. Cows have no top front teeth.

Keep an eye on our Facebook page for more cow facts as the month of June progresses.

How we care for calves: Our traditional farm

Birth is one of the most exciting times on the dairy. It’s also one of the most critical. Like newborn human babies, calves are more susceptible to diseases, require first milk (colostrum) and need extra care. Each of our farms takes special precautions and care with all calves, from birth to weaning.

In this post we will discuss how the traditional farm cares for calves from birth until they are weaned. Jenny Baerwolf cares for all of the calves on the traditional farm.

What happens after a cow has the baby?

Jenny: After calving, the cow and calf stay in the newborn pen until the cow leaves to get milked.  The calf is then taken to the calf barn. In the winter, calves are placed immediately into the warming hut and in the summer they are taken to a clean, new pen in the calf barn.

Maternity pen
Our calves are born in the maternity pen. This is similar to the floor at a hospital where babies are born.

What are the babies fed?

Jenny: Each calf is given 1 gallon of its mother’s colostrum at birth. If mom doesn’t give a gallon we use a colostrum replacer. We then skip the next feeding. Our calves are fed milk replacer and are fed twice a day, at 5 a.m. and 5 p.m., 365 days a year. They drink a 1/2 gallon of milk replacer at each meal and they always have clean, fresh water available. At 10 days of age I introduce grain, they are also trained to drink their milk out of a pail.

Another aspect to raising healthy calves is consistency, consistency. Cows are like big cats, they are creatures of habit. Calves like to be fed at the same time everyday, with the same amount of milk and at the same temperature of 104 degrees.

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This is our calf barn. The panels that separate the calves make it so calves aren’t in one big group but babies can still socialize with one another. Notice that these calves are wearing jackets. This picture was taken during winter time when calves need extra warmth.

How do you keep calves comfortable?

Jenny: I strongly believe having fresh, clean water available to my calves at ALL times is one of the secrets to raising strong, healthy calves. Also, we use lots of straw for bedding. The babies like to snuggle up in the straw and sleep. It is very important to keep the calf’s hair coat dry and clean. It keeps them insulated.

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This calf is snuggled into her straw. Straw is the best kind of bedding for calves because it keeps them dry and warm.

When are the calves weaned?

Jenny: Typically, I wean at 6 to 8 weeks of age. The calves are are moved to a group pen; we have three weaning pens. Their pen is a large open area with two feeders, a hayrack ( they get hay for the first time at weaning) and a water tank.

Calves are very demanding! They are born on our farm 24/7, 365 days a year, there are a lot of them and they very challenging to raise, but I LOVE THEM! They are the future of our farm, now who wouldn’t want to invest in that!

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This Brown Swiss calf is munching away on her calf grain, which is a mixture of corn, pelleted grains and molasses.

Stay tuned to learn about how we care for our calves on our organic farm.

Have questions about how our calves are raised? Feel free to contact us at 608-837-7766 or mara@sassycowcreamery.com.

Organic and Traditional: Our two farms

We here at Sassy Cow have a very unique farm set up that allows us to offer both organic and traditional milk. But what’s the difference between the two?

To start, let’s look at how they are similar. Both farms are family owned and operated by the Baerwolf Family and both provide nutritious, delicious and safe milk. All animals, whether organic or traditional, receive the best care possible and are treated with respect. Neither dairy uses rBST (the bovine growth hormone) and never will. In fact, rBST is not allowed in organic dairy production.

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Organic cows soaking up the sun on a beautiful late July day.

The main difference between the two herds is how the crops used for feed are grown. All crops grown to feed the organic herd must also be organically grown, so grown without the use of herbicides or commercial fertilizers. Additionally, 30 percent of the organic cow’s’ diet must come from pasture. Note that grazing is really only feasible in the warm summer months. On the traditional farm, crops grown to feed the traditional cows are grown on land that is treated to kill weeds. No matter what farm the cows are on, all crops are produced responsibly and safely. This ensures quality food for our girls.

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Traditional cows munching away on feed after morning milking. 

Another difference are the tools available to treat illness or infection. Antibiotics are not allowed to be administered to organic cows. Antibiotics can be used to treat illness or infections at our traditional farm under the guidance of a veterinarian. For example, if a cow at the traditional farm steps on a rock in the pasture and gets an infection she can be given an antibiotic to treat it.

The treated cow’s milk will be withheld from the milk supply during treatment and for a duration after called the withdrawal period. A withdrawal period is the time is takes for medicine to clear from meat or milk. Before her milk can go back into the food supply, it is tested for medicine.

At the end of the day, the choice to purchase organic or traditional milk comes down to personal preferences and beliefs. Whether you choose organic or traditional products, you can rest assured that Sassy Cow milk is always safe, fresh and nutritious!

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Have questions about the differences between organic and traditional dairying? Feel free to contact us at 608-837-7766 or mara@sassycowcreamery.com.

Where our cows live and what they eat in the winter months

It’s that time of year, winter. Our green pastures get covered with white snow and the temperatures drop to levels where no one really wants to be outside, including cows. So where do our cows live when the pastures are snow covered and cold?

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Cows enjoying pasture time in the summer months.

Our cows will spend the majority of their time in their barns once the temperatures drop. This usually happens some time in fall when pastures start producing less and go into dormancy for winter. Despite this, cows do prefer mid range temperatures of 40 to 50 degrees. During the nice warm spring and summer months, the cows get to enjoy time out on pasture during the day. But in the winter time, they stay in their dry, warm barns where they eat a diet consisting of corn, soybeans, wheat, alfalfa and corn silage all mixed together. This is called a total mixed ration (TMR).

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The front of our freestall barn. This is where the cows will spend the majority of their time in the winter.

Each of our farms have barns called freestalls where cows can freely roam around in their pen and lay down in a sand-bedded stall whenever they would like. Since cows spend about 8 hours a day sleeping and even more hours resting and chewing their cud, we make sure their sand bedding is clean and comfy. In a way, it’s like the cows get to go the beach everyday! In the summer months, cows are able to go outside during the day but return to the barn for the night.

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Cows rest on a bed of sand.

Our barns use thick, plastic tarps as side walls to keep in heat in the winter and are able to be rolled down in the warm months to allow more airflow into the barn to keep the cows cool. So when it’s -10 degrees or 85 degrees, the cows have comfortable living areas.

Cows always have access to food and water in their barn no matter the time of year and spend a good portion of their day eating. We provide them with nutritious feed year round in addition to the fresh grass they consume on pasture in the warm months.

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Cows eating the TMR in their barn.

 

Sassy Cow feed
Our cows’ diets consist of corn, soybeans, alfalfa and corn silage.

Organic and traditional cows are fed similar diets. The main difference is that the crops grown to provide the feed for the organic cows must be organically grown. Both farms work with a dairy nutritionist to ensure the cows’ diet is of the highest quality for happy and healthy cows that make the very best milk.

 

Have questions about where our cows live and what they eat? Or have an idea for a topic you would like to learn more about? Feel free to contact us at 608-837-7766 or mara@sassycowcreamery.com.

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