Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Vacation For The Cows Too!

Just a reminder (taken from Part 1- A Farm-Style Vacation)...Here in Minnesota we are deep into county fair time. Whether you are farm folks, or not, this is the time of year when many of us attend a fair to see the exhibits, enjoy the carnival, and indulge in the ooey, gooey, fair food. For generations my family has been very involved in exhibiting at county fairs. Today I am sharing the first of a three-part series about why farmers take their cattle to a fair, and the preparations it takes. I enjoyed exhibiting and showing my animals at the fair, but I was not an authority. It's time to call in the experts! I recruited my cousins from Brown's Apple Acres. Terri Dallas, Kristi Ruen, Staci Brown, and Heidi Anderson will let you in on a behind-the-scenes look at their "Farm-Style" Vacation.

Part 2 - A Vacation For The Cows Too!


The fair is not only a vacation for the farm families, it is also a vacation for the cows! It is kind of like a five day trip to the spa for the girls!  The cows are pampered and primped in preparation for the big day. There are countless hours spent washing and clipping them to the point where they are just perfect. The cows also get their nails done…oops, hooves clipped…before the show. They spend all five days laying on a pack of fresh straw, being served hay, corn, and grain on a continuous cycle, getting daily “baths,” having fans blowing on them to cool them off, and basically their every need tended to. It is our number one job to watch and care for them at all times while we are on our vacation to the fair. It’s not that cow’s lives on the farm aren’t luxurious, but they do get extra special treatment at the fair during those five days!

Heidi clipping the hair on the legs so they look perfect for the show.





Another fun part of our family vacation is the ability to educate people who are not familiar with dairy cows as they pass through the barn. They are very curious and have a lot of questions.  We have heard just about every question you can imagine. We appreciate that people ask and have a desire to learn.  It gives us a chance to educate the community. They commonly want to know how cows are milked, how often they are milked, how we pick their names, how old they are, how much they weigh, what breed they are, how much milk a cow gives, etc. The number one question we have heard over the years is definitely, “Why are they so skinny?” You see, at the Washington County Fair, one side of the cattle barn is filled with dairy cows and the other is filled with beef cows. The people that walk through are very curious why dairy cows bones stick out and they don’t look as “healthy” as the beef. The answer is quite simple. That is how dairy cows are made.  For example, just like dog breeds are different sizes, shapes, and colors, the same is true of cows. To be thin, or dairy, is a characteristic of dairy cows. They spend much of their energy and food intake on making milk, not gaining weight. If a dairy cow is heavy, she is either pregnant or not milking very much. So when you see a "skinny" dairy cow don’t worry, that is a desirable characteristic!  
  
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Fresh feed is measured and fed several times a day at the fair, courtesy of Staci and the boys.

Stay tuned for Part 3- It's Show Time!
 
To learn more about dairy farming and dairy foods visit Dairy Makes Sense










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