Are Local Dairy Cows Happier?
Do you remember the tagline “happy cows come from California?” If you don’t, you’ll probably still remember those Happy Cows commercials that were run by the California Milk Advisory Board a many years back.
These commercials had a point: happy cows come from California, because the majority of the farms in the state are run by local farmers and their families.
California cows are happier because many of them are raised by local farmers who genuinely care about their well-being. Here’s why you should always support local dairy farms and buy from local farmers- for the cows’ sake.
The California Dairy Industry Plays a Big Part
In California, the dairy industry is an essential part of life and economy. It’s the biggest dairy industry in the United States, and has been since 1993.
There are over 1400 dairy families in California, and over 1.7 million dairy cows. That means that 1 in 5 dairy cows in the country live in sunny California.
These cows get to enjoy the beautiful temperatures and year-round access to pasture that cows in other states don’t have access to. And this really shows when it comes to the importance of the dairy industry in the state.
Without California’s dairy industry, we wouldn’t have half as much production for cheese, ice cream, and milk in the country. That’s because 40% of dairy exports in the United States come from California, and 45% of California milk goes to making cheese.
Local Farmers Care About Their Cows
Local farmers take the time to care for their cows on a personal level. This includes giving the cows names so that they don’t feel like they’re just another number in a herd. It might sound silly, but cows aren’t clueless.
Some farmers know every cow by their name. When cows are given names, they can produce up to 5% more milk, according to a study.
This can make a big difference. In fact, it can mean that they’re producing an extra liter of milk a day. That’s 258 more liters a year.
Calves aren’t forgotten, either. On local farms, many farmers tend to give extra attention to the calf in their first 2 years of life. This has been shown to help boost their milk production when they get older.
From their first wobbly walk, cows are treated humanely and happily when local farmers take care of them.
Local Dairy Cattle are Stress-Free
Cows are much more intelligent than we humans believe. They need to be handled with care and treated properly in order to produce the best quality milk in the most productive amounts.
These gentle giants are vulnerable to psychological factors that can have a negative impact not only on their quality of life, but also on their milk. When cows get stressed, their milk production goes down.
Cows can become stressed in a number of ways, such as rough handling by farmers, poor environmental conditions, and bullying from other cows in their herd.
Yes, you read that right. Cows can sometimes bully one another if they’re stuffed in cramped quarters, leading to the bullied cow not getting enough food or water.
As a result of the vulnerability to stress in dairy cows, a study was done by a pair of psychologists in England. The results showed that cows produce more milk when they’re listening to slow, rhythmic music.
In fact, the cows in the study increased their production by 3%. The slow music helps to calm the cows and make them feel more relaxed, which increases their levels of oxytocin, a major factor in the milking process.
Local cows are housed in proper conditions that allow them enough space to keep comfortable without being cramped. Additionally, local organic farms and grass-fed establishments provide their cows with plenty of grazing time in the pasture. This gives them plenty of space they need.
Happy Dairy Cows Produce More Milk
It’s true. The production of milk from dairy cows actually increases when they’re happier and more comfortable. This has been shown in a variety of studies done in the last few years.
Milk from happy dairy cows is also more nutritious. One study published in the Journal of Endocrinology found that cows who were happier produced milk that was higher in calcium levels.
Levels of serotonin, the chemical associated with feelings of happiness, was tested in two different breeds of cows, Holstein and Jersey cows. The animals that had higher serotonin levels had higher amounts of calcium in their milk.
Local Farmers Are Always Investing in Technology to Make Cows’ Lives Better
Local farmers in California are constantly looking to improve the lives of their dairy cows.
In 2013, a dairy equipment business debuted a product in California that made waves in the dairy industry because of how happy it made the cows. It’s a giant brush that cleans cows using a spinning bristle system, similar to a car wash. According to the company, cows love the brush and “can’t get enough of it.”
One company actually created dual-chamber cow waterbeds designed to help cows sleep comfortably. Cows spend a surprising amount of time lying down, anywhere from 8 to 12 hours a day, so these beds allow them to get a better rest.
Products like these are the reason that local farmers produce happier cows. They are constantly seeking out items and technologies that are going to make life better for the giant grass-grazers.
Even if it costs them a pretty penny to do so. The giant cow brush costs around $3,000, but at its debut it was selling fast.
Find Your Local Dairy and Support California Cows
Choosing to support local farms instead of corporations helps you ensure that you’re keeping cows happy and healthy. Local farmers are part of your community, and they contribute more to your local economy than any corporate farm does.
Home milk delivery in glass bottles is an excellent way to support your local farmers while helping the environment. You’ll get farm fresh milk right to your door regularly, and you can recycle the glass bottles to eliminate waste.
To get involved in home milk delivery, and start doing your part to protect locally owned California cows, find a local dairy farm near you.