SUSQUEHANNA, Pa. — Often considered the father of the American dairy industry, W. D. Hoard, once said, “The cow is the foster mother of the human race.” Hoard, born 1836, played a prominent role in the development of the School of Agriculture at the University of Wisconsin and began the first national dairy magazine in the country, Hoard’s Dairyman, still published to this day.
Now, you might think this is a bit crazy to think how could a cow be a foster mother to a human? But just wait and see! Dairy farmers work day and night to provide high quality milk, which begins with taking good care of the cows. They have to figure out the right diet for the cows, keep them healthy, and happy. A happy, healthy cow is a high-quality producing cow! The farmers don’t do it all on their own, they work closely with veterinarians, nutritionists and other professionals to support their efforts. The cows receive checkups periodically, and medicine to treat them when they’re ill. A healthy diet is also very important for cows because if they’re not getting the proper nutrients it could affect their health and the milk they produce.
Even before the cow produces milk, their health and diet is very important. This is because before a cow can produce milk, she has to have a calf. And if the heifer isn’t in good health or have the proper diet, there could be complications with the cow, calf or delivery. So it is very important to take very good care of cows of all ages, because each stage of life has its importance. When a calf is born, it’s just like a newborn baby. They’re weak and vulnerable, so the first 24 or so hours of life are very important. You have to make sure that they are kept in a clean place, get the mother’s colostrum, and Mom and baby are in good health. The calves are the future of the herd, which makes them just as important as the milking cows in the barn.
Dairy farmers don’t just get to take care of the cows when they want, they have to do it even if it’s raining or snowing, super hot, or below freezing. They care deeply for their animals and want the best for them. They want a happy, healthy, and quality producing herd. The farmers, veterinarians, milk truck drivers, especially the cows, and anyone who is associated with the dairy industry work hard to make sure consumers have high quality, tasty dairy products to enjoy. Now, you probably understand more how cows are the foster mothers of the human race!
(Holly Harvatine, photo provided)
–Holly Harvatine, Susquehanna County Dairy Ambassador