Dairy Cows

I grew up on a dairy farm where we milked 40 to 60 head of dairy cows. We began our dairy operation slowly. We started by first milking a single dairy cow by hand. Later, we added more dairy cows. We would process their milk, cream, and butter by hand. Then, we would market the products ourselves also.

Eventually, we added more cows and expanded into a full dairy operation. We purchased an old dairy farm. That was just a mile or so away from our then home. We actually lived in a “parsonage,” the home kept for a minister by the church.

The dairy farm was about 80 acres in size. It had an old dairy barn that was setup to milk 5 cows at the time. The farm had a tractor. I believe it was a Ford 4000 that was built 5 years prior to my birth. There were a variety of fields and pastures on the farm.

Our herd of dairy cows began with several Jerseys. Later we added some Holsteins. Eventually, our herd was a mixed bunch of rag tag cattle. We had Jerseys, Holesteins, Guernseys, Ayrshires, and even a Brown Swiss.

This practice violated modern dairy production concepts. However, using hard work and even some outdated practices, my father was able to do well with paying back the FHA loans he had obtained to finance the farm. For example, the modern practice is to drop a round bale of hay in a ring to keep the cattle off the bale. We had a long haying area along a fence that had a single strand of barb wire to keep the cattle off the hay. We would tear a round bale apart and drop the hay in the “hayrack.”

For breeding purposes we had several Holestein bulls over the years. This is not the safest practice. I recall the first bull we had, soon after we got him, stuck a gate on his head. He carried this gate around on his head until he was ready to take it off. A large bull is a powerful, powerful animal.

Read on and I will discuss topics related to dairy cows including milk production, feeding, breeding, breeds, health concerns, and more.