A farmer cares for and raises dairy cows to produce milk or similar dairy products in the dairy farming business. How successful a farmer is at producing a product is based almost entirely on how well their cows are cared for. As with any livestock, some challenges come with raising cattle. However, awareness of those challenges and how to care for a dairy cow correctly makes this farming all the more simple.
Dairy cattle require clean and comfortable housing that is properly insulated and temperature-controlled. They require fresh water, either via cattle waterers or another method. They require high-quality food to keep their bodies in healthy form. When necessary, cattle also should have access to medical attention. Should any of these areas lack care and attention, a dairy farmer could sabotage the health and happiness of their cows and, in turn, produce milk of a lesser quality.
Let’s learn how to care for a dairy cow properly.
Feeding Dairy Cattle Rules: What, When, and How
Dairy cattle can require up to 100 pounds of food per day. While many farmers allow their cows to graze on grass and/or alfalfa hay, most farmers supplement their cattle’s diet with mixed ration feeds.
Corn, soybeans, sorghum, and similar grains provide the nutrients and fibre that cattle need to maintain their health. Ideally, a nutritionist will help inform you what the feed rations should be and the type of diet most appropriate for your dairy cows based on age, weight, and other factors.
Ensure Your Dairy Cows Have Enough Water
Dairy cows also require a lot of water, which many farmers do not realize. A cow can drink up to 50 gallons of water each day. When you have an entire collection of dairy cows needing this amount of water, a farmer must have a clean, accessible water supply.
Cattle waterers offer some massive advantages in keeping your cattle hydrated. They save time and stress. Waterers reduce water waste. No frozen water in winter. They’re an extremely worthwhile investment for a farmer prioritizing dairy cattle health.
Provide Dairy Cattle Comfortable Bedding
From all this eating and drinking, cows need to rest from exhausting all that energy and use this rest time to digest. The average dairy cattle spend up to 12 hours per day lying down. Make sure they’re provided a comfortable place to do so.
The most comfortable bedding for dairy cattle is made from sawdust shavings, sand, shredded recycled tires, and similar materials. Beds and walkways should be routinely scraped for manure several times a day.
Keeping Dairy Cows Cool During Summer
Summer, arguably, is more of a challenge than winter when it comes to caring for daily cows. The heat can put a lot of stress on a cow, which reduces milk production.
To keep cows cool and control temperature beyond natural ventilation techniques, you may consider barn exhaust fans, sprinklers and mist systems. Pulling air through and circulating heat helps. Ensuring there is enough shade for all of your dairy cattle is important, too.
Provide Necessary Medical Care For Dairy Cattle
Cattle occasionally require medical care. This is unavoidable. Medical assistance should be followed up with, medical checks should be done, and farmers must work closely with veterinarians to perform these routine checks to ensure cattle are healthy.
Herd sizes may necessitate doing this monthly, weekly, and, for some farms, even daily. It cannot be stated enough how important this is, as dozens of diseases can affect a whole dairy herd if not treated in time.
Trim Dairy Cow Hooves To Prevent Pain And Discomfort
When dairy cattle are being cared for, hoof trimming is an element. Hoof trimming restores weight balance between all hooves. It also prevents lesions prevents lameness, and avoids overgrown hooves, which affects mobility, pain levels, and productivity. Hooves should be trimmed at least once every six months, though it is sometimes done more often depending on how fast they grow. Like human nails, cow hooves are always growing and require adequate care.
Use The Systems, Tech, And Resources Available To You
It is a big task to be a farmer. Fortunately, there are systems and tech that can make being a dairy farmer easier and more efficient. From monitoring collars to recording how many steps a cow is taking and their exercise levels to waterers for clean water, waste processing systems, and more, use the technology and resources available. There are several ways to modernize dairy cattle farming by using efficient systems to care for herds, large and small, to ensure every cow is fed and hydrated and their health is properly managed.