When I hear the term “factory farming” I cringe, and when I hear it referring the dairy industry I become irate. The public is being brainwashed to believe that large dairies (1000+ cows) are bad. They’re made to believe that they are corporately owned and operated, that the employees and managers care nothing about the livestock, and that they are pushed around, shoved around, and routinely mistreated and sickly. The fact that most Americans think of dairy farming this way makes me feel like we are failing as an industry. The typical person today is 5 or 6 generations apart from the farm. Most have no real idea about agriculture, and it’s fallen upon the industry to educate people. That’s MY mission. Educate those who only know/believe what the radical activist groups slam through the media.
According to Farm Sanctuary:
Since 1991, the number of total U.S. dairies has dropped 55%, while the number of dairies with a herd of 100 or more cows has increased 94%. Every year, more dairy cattle in the U.S. are raised on large corporate operations, or “mega-dairies,” that employ factory-farming techniques.
It’s true. The number of small dairies HAS declined drastically since 1991, and smaller herds are becoming more scarce. However, most dairies aren’t “corporate operations”. Contrary to popular belief, most dairies today are still family owned and operated. Yep. I said it. They are family businesses. It’s still mom and dad and the kiddos that go out there every day and bust their you-know-whats to make a living… plus some extra hired hands because lets face it–there’s a lot of work to be done on a dairy!
And in response to the “factory-farming techniques” bit–it BAFFLES me that people think that animal agriculturalists mistreat their animals. Completely confuses me. A smart person would realize that these animals are the LIVELIHOOD of the industry. Without them, we’re literally nothing. How on Earth would it benefit us to mistreat them in any way?? The happier the cows, the better we do. End of question.
On the dairy, cows are babied. They are given everything they could ever want and more. They’re fed multiple times a day, they are given a soft place to rest, shade, and wind breaks. At any given time, you can walk out to a pen of cows and 75% of them are laying down, chewing their cud (a sign that they are truly relaxed and happy), 20% are eating at the bunks, and 5% are drinking from the troughs. Folks, these are happy cows.
These videos really sum it all up: