Valentine's Day 2017 Admission: I Love My Cows
I love our cows.
You know how parents always say they love all their kids the same amount. Well, that’s not true of my feelings about our herd. I love them all, but, well, some more than others.
No matter what, I get attached to some in a different way. It’s hard not to. I especially get attached to the cows that we have for a longer period of time. We don’t name our herd; each of them has an ear tag with a number on it. But over time many of them get nicknames . “Momma” was a wonderful red Angus mix cow who had consistently had big healthy calves. She became lame and, despite many vet visits and extra care from us, her lameness got worse. And yet she soldiered on, never complaining. I admired her for being such a good trooper. To be honest, she inspired me with her ability to keep on going, even when it was hard.
And there was “Baby Bull” who was the first calf born here so I had a special affection for him, and still called him Baby Bull even after he was over 1,000 pounds and wasn’t technically a bull anymore.
Most of the herd never get nicknames, but we give them the same care. We believe in treating our herd with respect and care. I’m always talking about “no stress” for the cattle. When we head to the pasture, the kids are told “remember, no yelling.” We give them new pasture at least once a day, sometimes more and I can assure you they are never hungry. I’m like the Jewish (or Italian or any ethnic) momma making sure they are never without something good to eat.
I believe the care and the love we give our herd shows up in the quality of the beef we produce. There’s a fair amount of science about the impact that stress has on cattle, and on the meat. (Of course, we know stress contributes to illness in humans too.) We don’t use cattle prods or anything like that ever to move them From their first day to their last - we make sure every day is good.
When folks come out to visit our farm, they often mention how healthy and cared for our cattle are. To me, they’re seeing the love we feel for them every day.