I`m in quite a Moo-d. An excited mood!
Last month I got the opportunity to cross something off my bucket list. I got to milk a cow.
To some of you that might not be a big deal, you may milk cows every day or are simply not interested. To me, any opportunity to get outside of my bubble, my grain roots, my routine, to learn more about how food gets to my plate and experience something new and different, I jump for and dive right in. Milking a cow and visiting a dairy farm check all of those boxes.
I woke up early one morning and drove to a dairy farm in a neighboring town. They were so welcoming and taught me so much. They were also very patient with me when I asked a lot of questions and tried to milk one of their cows.
Getting first-hand experience of life on the farm and learn more about what farmers do is such a great experience. For Albertans, you can also enjoy a first-hand experience. You are invited to come to a ‘Breakfast on the Dairy Farm’ event at various locations around the province, enjoy a free hot breakfast and experience life on a dairy farm.
This experience gave me an opportunity to learn how milk is produced on their farm: How many times they milk, what the cows eat, how they take care their animals when they are sick, how they ensure antibiotics aren’t in the milk I drink, and so much more.
Here are a few things that my experience taught me about dairy:
- Animal care: The videos you may have seen from activists depicting neglect and harm was the opposite to what I experienced. Dairy farmers respect their animals and respect the laws on animal care. Abuse and negligence are not accepted in the industry and there is zero tolerance. I saw that the cows are comfortable and healthy. There is a code of practice that was developed with veterinarians and animal care experts like the SPCA. They determined what the food industry and society expect which covers standards for feed, water, health and animal care, transportation and more.I also saw that the farmer knew each cow individually. Each cow even had their own name, own personality and loved to be scratched. When we visited them out in the coral, they were curious and came up to me. Some sniffed me, some even licked my hands and arms and they stuck pretty close to me. That was a good indication that they are treated with respect and care and weren’t afraid or on edge.
- Environment: The environment is something close to a farmer’s heart. They are environmentalists all year round and care for the land and resources to ensure its sustainability for future generations. Farmers are focused on efficiency and sustainability and are embracing new innovations and technologies to reduce the environmental impact.
How do they do this? They focus on improving productivity, reducing waste, managing resources responsibly and using renewable energy. While some use bio-digestors to transform methane from manure into electricity, others have turned to reusable energy, such as solar power and wind turbines on the farm.
“Did you know it takes 65% fewer dairy cows to produce milk for all of Canada day that it did 50 years ago?”
You’re probably wondering about the carbon footprint? Farmers have steadily reduced their carbon footprint and adopted practices that benefit the environment. In 2016, Canadian milk production was responsible for generating only 1.3% if Canada’s total GHG emissions and using only 0.02% of Southern Canada’s freshwater supply. One litre of milk produced in Canada emits 1/3 the amount of GHG compared the global average.
- Quality Dairy: I’m a dairy fan. I love cheese, milk, ice cream, yogurt, butter and so much more. It’s always the first in our house to be eaten. With a busy schedule, dairy has helped us stay healthy and get the nutrients we need for a balanced diet. Dairy is a rich source of protein and contains almost every single nutrient the body needs, making it one of the most nutritious foods available. Vitamin B12, calcium, riboflavin, and phosphorus are a few of these vitamins and minerals. Dairy can positively affect your bones and blood pressure. It also helps us create some pretty awesome memories together too.
- Blond hair: The calves loves to eat my hair. Maybe they thought it was straw. Or they knew how to have some fun in the morning and bring a smile to my face.
The free Alberta events are right around the corner and have a wide variety of activities for the whole family, like barn tours, cow milking, face painting, a hot breakfast and more.
Find a breakfast close to you:
Based on how much fun I had on a dairy farm and all that I learned, I guarantee these breakfast events will be legend-dairy 😊 They may even put you to work like me. Hope to see you there!
This is a partnered collaboration with Alberta Milk.