Monday, January 13, 2014

Cow sanctuaries? Surviving in the wild? Dairy farming as told by PETA activists

Can dairy cows survive in the wild? Should they be extinct? Are there "cow sanctuaries"?

All questions asked of participants in a PETA protest in Toronto, Canada.

If you haven't already, take a look at this video. It will help everything below make more sense.

Cows enjoy living in temperature-controlled barns, just as you like living in your temperature-controlled house
What's going to happen to all the animals if they aren't on dairy farms? One lady said there are farm sanctuaries for dairy cows that she said would be funded by the almond, rice, etc. milk industry. First of all, there are no "cow sanctuaries." If she means cow sanctuaries are dairy farms that "really care"...they already exist!! Great news for them and for cows.

Actually, they are everywhere. Farms that depend on their cows for their livelihoods and have for generations, that stimulate the local economy, house families that contribute to their communities and also that provide a wholesome, nutritious product for families across the world. Speaking of across the world, did you know approximately 15% of milk production is now exported? That's about one day's production per week! Wow!

"Without animal husbandry, these animals don't exist on their own."

"Bessie, go free!"...not the case in this photo, but just like people get cold after a while, cows depend on people to provide shelter, food and care.

Another lady said they could live in the wild, but isn't sure if they exist in the wild but if we let them go free, we will see. It's winter time. Maybe you've noticed you haven't had to mow your grass in a while. That means that cows out on pasture need something else to eat. They might nibble on grass, but they need something else too, which is why you see bales of hay in the field with cows or cows eating a ration in the barn.

Dairy cows, like many other domesticated animals, depend on humans to take care of them. Farmers and animal caretakers know that for their animals to be happy and productive, they must take good care of them. It just doesn't make sense to provide anything else than top-notch care. After all, these animals are the backbone of these family businesses.

Should cows be extinct? Definitely not! And I'm not just saying that because if they were I would be really sad never to have another sweet show cow to hang out with at the fairs during show season, but also because I love chocolate milk after my long runs and pepper jack grilled cheese sandwiches. It's really hard to beat the nutrition found in milk, cheese and yogurt. Did you know that for just a quarter per 8 oz. glass, milk packs in nine essential nutrients, such as protein, potassium and calcium, to help families stay strong?

Regardless of the topic, there are going to be extremists on both sides. The dairy industry, and all of agriculture, works hard to be transparent and to show you how your food is produced. But, just like you don't want a bunch of random people showing up at your home unannounced or at your place of employment, it's not always possible to host people at the farm. Besides that, farming is a BUSY job! There's not a lot of free time to chit chat with people that stop by.

Luckily, social media is a great channel of communication to give you an inside look into America's dairy farms and explain how things are done on the farm and why (and also show you pictures of cute little them!). How do you find farm people on social media? On Twitter and Instagram, try searching the hashtag #farmlife. I use it sometimes and I know many others do as well.

As always, if you have questions, please ask.