Why We Appreciate Our Cows

In honor of “Cow Appreciation Day,” we caught up with some of our contributors and local farmers to ask them, “Why do you appreciate your cows?” Here’s what they said:

Chace Fullmer

“I’ve never not had cows…don’t know what it would be like not to have them. Our cows are the reason I get up every morning – to try to do something to make their lives better.”

Chace with Calf

Chace Fullmer with Newborn Calf

Braden Anderson

“I love working with cows and making a lot of them pets. I enjoy taking my cows to the shows and getting them ready for the shows. I’m appreciative of my cows for the wholesome product the produce. I’m grateful for how they produce our livelihood.”

Braden Anderson

Braden Anderson

Katharine Nye

“Cows were my first friends. When I’d go to work with my parents when I was very small, playing with calves and watching as my parents worked among our herd were my daily activities.  Cows have been a mainstay in my family, and they are a legacy that my siblings and I are working to continue. Our cows work hard for us: taking care of them brings me joy, and knowing that my cows provide the world with a safe and delicious food is just the whipped cream on top!”

Katharine with Calf

Katharine and a young calf

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Do Fireworks Scare Cows?

Recent 4th of July firework celebrations got us thinking…many dogs are petrified of fireworks, but what about cows? We asked Utah State University Extension Dairy Specialist and Associate Professor, Allen Young to weigh in. Thanks to Allen for contributing this post:

As humans, we love to go to scary movies and see things that make our flesh crawl, but if we get scared unexpectedly, we usually go through the “fight or flight” syndrome.  This is where adrenaline surges, we jump, scream/faint, try to run or even turn around and lash out at someone.  There are several times my wife has scared me, and I almost hit her before I realized she wasn’t trying to sneak up on me.  Animals are similar.  They don’t like to be frightened when they aren’t expecting it.  In many ways their “fight or flight” mechanism is more finely tuned than humans.  This is especially true in animals that historically were considered “prey” animals.  Examples of these would be cattle, sheep and goats.  In the old days it was important that they were not surprised by a wolf, bear, coyote or mountain lion or else they could be dinner.

Fireworks

Today, our domesticated animals are maybe not quite as alert as before, but the same mechanisms that are part of their genes live on.  So the question is do loud noises bother cows?  The answer becomes one of how often does it happen?  If it happens infrequently, then they will show similar responses to what you might expect; running and or lashing out would be examples.  However, if the loud noise becomes a “common” thing in their life, they show almost no response at all.  For example, cows that live near airports become habituated to the point that they totally ignore the sounds from the jets and act as if nothing is happening.  Several years ago I was on a dairy that was located near the end of runway for military fighter jets.  While standing in the middle of a corral full of cows, several jets took off with full afterburners.  I was three feet away from the owner and he and I could not carry on a conversation.  The cows – they never even looked up, ran, acted frightened, or did anything to make me think something was amiss.

So, what if you want to celebrate the holidays with fireworks?  That’s fine; but maybe stay away from the cows.  They are not habituated to fireworks, and I’m pretty sure they can’t outrun a bottle rocket.  Move down the street and both you and the cows will have a happy evening.

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End June Dairy Month with a SQUEAK!

The Secret Behind Squeaky Cheese

sharing a post from our sister site “Our Earth, Our Products, Our Passion“.

Cheese curds, often called “squeaky cheese,” are a popular snack, not only for the taste, but also for the small mouse like squeak sounds when you take a bite. So what makes squeaky cheese squeak? To find out we asked two local cheese experts, Dave Larsen with Gossner Foods in Logan, UT and Pat Ford with Beehive Cheese Co. in Ogden, UT. They gladly shared the secret.

Gossner Foods Cheese Curd

Gossner Foods Cheese Curd

The squeak in squeaky cheese is produced by it’s cheddaring process and freshness.  These tasty little curds are not a byproduct, but rather the first product of cheese making. The traditional cheddaring process starts with letting the milk ripen, which allows bacteria to convert lactose, the natural sugar found in milk, into lactic acid. This lowers the pH and causes the milk to curdle. The addition of rennet, an enzyme used in cheese making, also aids in this curdling process. As the milk curdles, it sets. After setting, the mixture is cooked and the liquid whey is drained. You are now left with curds which are cut into strips and turned over and over to remove the moisture. This process is called “cheddaring the cheese.” Lastly salt is added to keep the pH from dropping further and improve the flavor. The result: yummy cheese curds. When the curds are less than 36 hours old the protein in the cheese is not yet broken down by the bacteria in the added cultures. This gives the cheese a more rubbery texture and causes that fun squeak.

Beehive Cheese Curds

Beehive Cheese Curds

Curd can be eaten as is or pressed into a mold and allowed to age. As the curds age they loose their squeak and turn into the blocks of cheese typically purchased at the store.

Other fun facts:

  • The orange color (see photo of Gossner cheese curd above) is due to a vegetable based food dye, they would otherwise be white.
  • Cheese curds taste so yummy in part because of the extra salt on the outside.
  • Because they don’t have to age, cheese curds allow quick revenue for cheese makers to purchase new milk, while their other cheeses age.

Tips from Dave and Pat:

  • Cheese curds are great fried, melted over fries, or are great fresh for snacking, or picnics.
  • To bring some of the squeakiness back, pop a couple curds in a microwave for just a few seconds.

You can purchase Gossner cheese curds at their store in Logan, UT and find Beehive Cheese Curd at their storefront in Ogden and at grocery stores across the state.

We hope Dairy Month has been good to you. Take it out with a SQUEAK!

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Sunshine & Smiles: A Day on the Farm

Saturday, June 2nd was our second annual “Day on The Farm.” The promise of delicious dairy, family fun, and the chance to get out of town to spend time on a family dairy farm brought hundreds out to the picturesque Canyon View Farm in Midway, Utah. The breathtaking landscape, fun activities, cute animals, as well as Domino’s Pizza, Aggie ice cream, and yummy Gossner milk created the perfect afternoon. Our photos help tell the story.

Farm Tour Collage

Our State Dairy Ambassadors and local FFA students led dairy farm tours (petting a baby calf included)

When asked what their favorite part of the day was, kids exclaimed “The animals!” “The Bounce House!” or “The Ice Cream.”

Day on the Farm was first launched in 2013 in partnership with Domino’s Pizza and their Delivering Dairy Goodness initiative. It is a day to kick of June Dairy month and celebrate families by giving the local community a chance to have fun and learn more about where their food comes from.

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Our Day on the Farm would not have been possible without the generous donation of time and products from our sponsors and volunteers. The day is sponsored by the Dairy Farmers of Utah and food is supplied by Domino’s Pizza, Aggie Ice Cream, and Gossner Foods. This year we had the generous support of Canyon View Farm, home to Heber Valley Artisan Cheese and host of the event, Z104, AgrAbility, Wasatch FFA, Mom it Forward and Innovative Food Solutions.

Day on the Farm Pizza

Thanks to Domino’s for the generous donation of pizza for our event.

Thank you to all who attended and helped us eat 2400 slices of cheesy pizza. We look forward to hosting the event again next year.

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A Cow Show

By Braden Anderson

This past month Utah held their annual Western Spring National Show, known as Richmond Black and White Days to most of the locals.  At this year’s show, dairy farmers came from all over the western United States. and as always, it turned out to be quite a tough competition. Not only is it the longest running show held west of the Mississippi, but next year will mark the show’s 100th Anniversary.

Our Cows at the 99th Richmond Black & White Days

Our Cows at the 99th Richmond Black & White Days

What Goes On at a Cow Show:
It takes many hours of preparation to be all ready for a cow show.  Everything from walking the cows several months before the show to washing and grooming them to giving them a special diet that fits each cow individually. Once arriving at the show we make sure all of our cows are comfortable by giving them nice bedding consisting of straw and wood shavings. In addition to getting plenty of water and exercise, these show cows get constant attention from their owners. Like a little baby, we clean their bums after they poop, and we make food (hay and grain) available at all times so they get the nutrients and energy they need.  We also wash and brush the cows everyday to make sure they stay clean and look the best that they can.  As you can tell at these shows, the cows are definitely spoiled.

Awards Ceremony

Awards Ceremony (I’m #131)

I had two cows at this year’s show – a calf who took 7th place in the open show, 1st place in the junior show and received honorable mention junior champion. I also had a cow place second in the open show, 1st in the junior show and take reserve grand champion. It was a good show for us!

Showing Our Calf

Showing Our Calf

I enjoy cow shows and the people that I get to work with. They are some of the most funny, hardworking people I know. Not only are cow shows a great way to socialize and meet with other dairymen, but the experience helps my dad and me buy and sell cows in the most convenient and professional way possible. I am looking forward to next year’s 100th Richmond Black & White Days.

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Cow Health – Caring for Their Hooves

By Katharine Nye

The list of things cows need is long: feed, water, medicine (if they’re sick), ear tags, fluffy bedding, pedicures….wait, what?  You’re probably thinking that I typed that wrong.  Cows don’t get pedicures. Right? Actually, my typing skills are intact.  We refer to cows’ feet as hooves, and the professionals who take care of them are called hooftrimmers.  Or, if you prefer, bovine podiatrists.  But hooftrimmers is more common.

Now, you may be wondering why in the world cows’ hooves need to be cared for.  Cows can be tricky creatures.  A diet that is too rich, Stepping on a rock the wrong way, or experiencing difficulty during birth can all lead to hoof problems.  Most often, when a cow is transitioning – preparing to calve, or recovering after calving – is when hoof troubles arise.  Switching feed, if done incorrectly, can bother a cow’s rumen, and cause all kinds of problems, including laminitis.  Laminitis is the most common term used for cows with lameness.

So How is it Done?

Usually a hooftrimmer has a trailer, called a rig, and his own tools to care for hooves. Rig types vary, but essentially what happens is a cow walks down an alley that leads to the rig.  She steps into it, her head is stabilized, rubber grips come up under her belly and chest, and she is gently tilted on her side.  Cows are large animals and gaining access to their hooves is not always easy.  Stationary, elevated, and on her side ensures a safe environment for both cow and trimmer, and gives the trimmer easy access to see what he is dealing with.  With his main tools, nippers, a grinder and a hoof knife (think extreme pedicure kit), he can gently trim down and file a cow’s hooves to ensure she walks properly and deal with any infections or warts that he may spot.  The cow is then lowered, the doors of the rig open, and she is off on her way.

Cow Hooftrimming

Hooftrimmer at Work

Cow Hoof

Evaluating the Hoof

The way that dairies care for their cows’ hooves varies.  Most often, a hooftrimmer visits a client about one to two times per year to trim hooves, diagnose hoof problems, and consult with the dairy owners.  Sometimes dairies have an in-house hooftrimmer or two, which is especially useful because a lot of problems can start with the hooves – if a cow can’t walk, she can’t eat, and if she can’t eat, everything goes downhill quickly.  Having four stomachs is tough! Having someone there every day, walking corrals and keeping an eye on hoof health, is an incredible benefit to both cows and people.

How does Mountain View Dairy do it? 

Each spring and fall, twelve individuals from eight states and two countries arrive on Mountain View Dairy with an incredible amount of gear in tow.  For one week straight, our twelve hooftrimmers work long, hard hours to make sure that each of our 3,500 animals on site receives a full trim and attention to any other issues they may have.  The week is full of camaraderie, and our eclectic group shares stories and discusses new techniques. While exhausting for everyone, this has turned out to be the best way to care for our herd’s hooves.  It’s a long week, but the quality of our trimmers and the incredible care they take of cows is more than worth it.  It’s unconventional, but sometimes those are the best ways to get things done!

Mountain View Dairy - Hoof Trimming

The Hooftrimming Crew at Mountain View Dairy

For a detailed account of how it’s done at Mountain View Dairy, read the article the Progressive Dairyman.

Hoof health is an important aspect of proper dairy cattle care, and ensuring that each cow receives a high-quality pedicure (albeit without the polish!) helps to safeguard a cow’s overall health and happiness.

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The Front-Seat Calf

By Lacey Papageorge 

About two weeks ago, we had a heifer on our dairy who was acting under the weather.  It is easy to tell when a cow or heifer is not feeling well because they often droop their ears and head.  To get this little one to feel better we tried feeding her more regularly to keep her hydrated and gave her a few different types of medicine, but she wasn’t responding. A couple mornings later, she had a hard time getting up, and my dad could tell she was dehydrated and needed an IV. Just a few week’s old, this young heifer’s veins would be difficult to find, so we needed a professional’s help.

Our usual vet was already out on a call that morning, so we called our cousin who has a small animal veterinary clinic not to far from where we live, and he encouraged us to bring her in. Not wanting to waste any time, we loaded our baby girl into the front seat of the truck so we could get her to the vet’s office as quickly as possible.  She was so tired that she laid on the floor of the truck the whole way there.  At the vet clinic we got lots of attention.  It is not very often that you see a calf in the small animal clinic, and everyone pulled out their phones to snap pictures.  As soon as the vet took her in, he was able to put an IV in and get her hydrated.  We left her there for a few hours, and when we came back she was standing and had improved tremendously.  The vet said that she had responded well to the IV, she drank some milk, and that we were free to take her home.

Taking our young heifer to the vet

Taking our young heifer to the vet

My dad and the vet put her back into the front seat of the truck for the ride home, but now that she had some pep, she refused to lay down on the floor of the truck. Instead she stood in the cab with her bum against the passenger door and her nose almost touching the steering wheel. Excited to be headed home, she proceeded to lick my dad and the steering wheel! I keep my arms around her to keep her from falling. While driving back to our farm through town we got a lot of strange looks. Some people pointed and others honked and waved.  It was fun to see all of the people we made smile with our silly little calf.

Our calf in the front seat!

Our calf in the front seat!

Once back at the farm, we set up a new pen full of sawdust so she would be warm and clean.  After her long day and ride around town, she was tired and crawled right into her house for a good nap.  (We did have to squirt the floor of the truck out with the hose because she had to go potty while she was on her ride, but it was an easy clean up.)   I was excited when later that day I fed her a pint of milk and she drank it all.  Still living in her own little house, she is doing well and has continued to improve each day.  It is now two weeks later and she is back to being a happy, healthy baby girl and we couldn’t be happier.

Dairy farmers would do anything to keep their cows and heifers healthy. We work consistently with vets and nutritionists who visit our farm to make sure our whole herd is doing well.  Just like with people, we do everything we can to prevent our animals from getting sick, but sometimes we still have one get sick.  When that happens, its all hands in to get her feeling better.  We love our babies, and we do everything in our power to keep them happy and healthy.

Happy and Healthy

Happy and Healthy

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