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  • Writer's pictureSuzie Anne

If You Were A Cow...

"4:30 a.m. the usual morning wake-up." Okay, that's enough of parodying a song from one of my favorite movies. But, 4:30-5:00 a.m. is the normal time our cows are gotten up for the morning milking. They'll stretch, go say hello to friends -- or my sister, if it's Aurora -- get some water, and grab a snack from the feedbunk. Then they'll mosey over to the holding pen where they'll wait for their turn to be milked. The milking takes from 2.5 - 3 hours; the time dependent on the milker and whether problems arise during the milking.

Feedbunk and cow
Our Feedbunk

7:30-8:00 a.m. is the next big event, with the cow lot favorite: feeding time. Our farm has an old-school setup with a food delivery system that uses two conveyor belts and a plow. The cows come to the feedbunk to eat, where the food is transported by conveyor belts and knocked off the final belt and into the bunk by a plow. The cows line the bunk to eat, then, when they're full, return to socializing or lounging around in the freestalls.

Cows laying in a freestall barn
Freestall barn picture from Canva

4:15 p.m. It's milking time again. The same process occurs as in the morning, except that there are more things happening around the cow lot in the afternoon. While the cows are being milked, the freestalls and alleyways are cleaned -- this happens before milking in the morning -- and feed is mixed. Other miscellaneous farm tasks will be completed as well during this time, and, once there is milk to do so, the calves will be fed.

5:45-6:00 Dinner is served. It's a cow's second favorite part of the day, and the process is the same. The one difference is that the bunk is less-packed, this feeding is more in the middle of milking than towards the end like the morning feeding. So cows that are lower on the totem pole get more choice on what spot they get. Because, as every smart cow knows, all silage is not created equal. The rest of the evening/night is spent socializing and sleeping.

Sounds a bit boring, right? Well...that's just the stuff in the normal routine. The cows like to spice things up a bit with hijinks and escape attempts. Wakanda, the cow in the picture of the feedbunk, has a nose for open gates and does her best to regularly exploit them. Other cows decide to have fun by seeing what sort of impossible situations they can get themselves into. For example, just this morning we had to cut out a post in our barn because a cow managed to stick her head out an opening...and then couldn't get it back in. There are also visits from the vet, about once every six weeks, which increase excitement and create a change from the daily routine. Then, at least twice a year, each cow gets a pedicure, courtesy of the hoof trimmer. So, it's not as boring as it sounds, and the cows never lack ideas for getting in trouble.

Have a moo-velous week, and keep magic in the mundane!

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