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Old 03-20-2009, 01:50 PM
 
Location: Vermont
5,441 posts, read 15,354,071 times
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My wife is considering becoming vegan and would like to know about some things about an organic milk cows life... I am very curious as well.

My understanding is that the way to make a cow lactate is to impregnate it. How long does a cow provide milk after it has given birth?

What do they do with the cow after it doesn't milk anymore? Get her pregnant again? What about when she is too old? Dog food?

What do they do with the cow that is birthed if it is a male? Assuming they save the females for more milk, does the male go on to be fed as an organic cow for beef?

I know these may seem dumb questions but I am so far removed from the farm, that I am clueless... I am not looking for the sugar coated version either.
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Old 03-20-2009, 02:02 PM
 
Location: I think my user name clarifies that.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joe moving View Post
My wife is considering becoming vegan and would like to know about some things about an organic milk cows life... I am very curious as well.

My understanding is that the way to make a cow lactate is to impregnate it. How long does a cow provide milk after it has given birth?
Like a human mother, a cow only produces milk after she has given birth. Depending on how she is milked, she will probably provide milk for 6-9 months after she has calved.

What do they do with the cow after it doesn't milk anymore? Get her pregnant again? What about when she is too old? Dog food?
Typically a cow is bred (impregnated) while she is being milked. She is usually bred 3-6 months after calving. She will be pregnant for about 6 months, while still milking. She is typically "dry" (not being milked) for about 3 months before she again gives birth and resumes producing milk.

When a cow gets to be too old, she is "culled". That's another way of saying she's sent to market and slaughtered. A good share of the hamburger you eat is cull cows.

Cattle and/or hogs only become dog food if they die on the farm. Then a rendering truck picks up the carcass, and it is processed into dog food or cat food.

What do they do with the cow that is birthed if it is a male? Assuming they save the females for more milk, does the male go on to be fed as an organic cow for beef?
Obviously, about half of all calves will be male.
The male calves are typically castrated - making them into "steers". The steers are raised, fed well, and eventually slaughtered. Almost all of your best cuts of beef are from prime steers.

I know these may seem dumb questions but I am so far removed from the farm, that I am clueless... I am not looking for the sugar coated version either.
I grew up on a dairy farm. It sounds to me like you might not be too well versed in agriculture, so I've given you short answers above. Ask more questions if I failed to offer anything helpful.


Organic Farming is a nice ideal. Organic meat & produce is supposed to be all chemical free, commercial fertilizer free, and pesticide free. But there is a LOT of mis-information and deceit about organic produce and meat.
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Old 03-20-2009, 03:12 PM
 
1,297 posts, read 3,237,560 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joe moving View Post
My understanding is that the way to make a cow lactate is to impregnate it. How long does a cow provide milk after it has given birth?
Depends on a lot of variables including age, breed and just the cow itself. When milk begins to drop off, a prudent farm pulls it off the milk line and lets it rest: some farms squeeze every drop from her. Organic farmers are the worst when it comes to this because the milk is so much more valuable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by joe moving View Post
What do they do with the cow after it doesn't milk anymore? Get her pregnant again?
Of course, its called Dry Cow, and is taken out of the milking line up, allowed to rest and then impregnated again to start the cycle all over.

Quote:
Originally Posted by joe moving View Post
What about when she is too old? Dog food?
Of course not. It's called beef. 15% of the beef consumed in this country comes from culled dairy cows. It's not all Blank Angus Beef you know, and surprise of all surprises...Jersey is the best tasting beef followed by Holstein because of they way they marble their meat and have high levels of omega3. This occurs on our farm between 12-15 years of age. I have known cows to live to be 20 years old or more. They say the average age of a cow is 4 years though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by joe moving View Post
What do they do with the cow that is birthed if it is a male? Assuming they save the females for more milk, does the male go on to be fed as an organic cow for beef?
They can be. They are either raised for beef on the dairy farm, or sold off to other farms to be raised, or are sold off to be raised and slaughtered as veal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by joe moving View Post
I know these may seem dumb questions but I am so far removed from the farm, that I am clueless... I am not looking for the sugar coated version either.
You are not alone my friend. Even here in Maine a lot of people have never set foot in a dairy barn.
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Old 03-20-2009, 03:53 PM
 
9,807 posts, read 14,202,442 times
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Broken Tap says-" Of course,its called Dry Cow, and is taken out of the milking lineup, allowed to rest and then impregnated again"------

???????????????????

Dairy farmers would soon go broke if they followed Broken Tap's practices.

Most cows have their first calf at 2 years old (24 months)
Gestation is a little over 9 months,
Starting at 60 days after calving, the farmer attempts to get the cow bred back at each heat cycle (21 days)

The goal is to have milk cows give birth every 12 months.

Any good milk cow should produce milk at profitable amounts for 10 months, have a 2 month dry period and then calve again.

If one had a cow like Broken Tap said--------milk til dry, then impregnate her------she would be sitting idle for over 9 months.

No dairyman I know would keep a cow that quit giving milk and was not bred.

In fact, most dairy farmers will not keep a cow that they can not get bred back within 6 months of calving.

It just isn't profitable !
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Old 03-20-2009, 04:14 PM
 
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Your right. I typed too fast and did not write down accurately what we do. They are impregnated during milking, but unlike most farms, we do not do so artificially...we let the bulls do their job.
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Old 03-22-2009, 11:48 AM
 
Location: Mid-Atlantic
28,464 posts, read 27,247,137 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joe moving View Post
My wife is considering becoming vegan and would like to know about some things about an organic milk cows life...
Just to clarify, that would be vegetarian. Vegans don't consume animal products.
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Old 03-22-2009, 03:45 PM
 
Location: Vermont
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Sorry , maybe I am not communicating properly. She is vegetarian, and is considering choosing to be vegan because she feels that even organic dairy products are not really any better (in terms of animal welfare and the effect that factory farming has on the earth, environment, ties to meat industry, etc.) than regular dairy products. But in this post I really personally wanted to know about the typical life of a milk cow.
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Old 03-22-2009, 04:11 PM
 
Location: Back in New York
1,104 posts, read 3,467,303 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joe moving View Post
Sorry , maybe I am not communicating properly. She is vegetarian, and is considering choosing to be vegan because she feels that even organic dairy products are not really any better (in terms of animal welfare and the effect that factory farming has on the earth, environment, ties to meat industry, etc.) than regular dairy products. But in this post I really personally wanted to know about the typical life of a milk cow.
I would love to be a vegetarian for other animals sake but its just not a healthy lifestyle. Cows milk, even if pastuerized beats the alternative of soy which is extremely unhealthy. Make sure your wife does not use soy products (with the exception of Tempeh, Natto and Miso).
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Old 03-22-2009, 06:01 PM
 
Location: Vermont
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vegetarian lifestyle is fine I think, it's vegan that I worry about. as my wife is vegetarian, I am 75% there (I eat only chicken and turkey and only when we eat out 1X a week). This being said we eat tons and tons of dairy products - cheese, milk, eggs... and butter is a huge portion of our diet.

Not a huge fan of soy myself either.....
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Old 03-23-2009, 11:16 AM
 
Location: Way South of the Volvo Line
2,778 posts, read 7,343,584 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CleanCutHippie View Post
I would love to be a vegetarian for other animals sake but its just not a healthy lifestyle. Cows milk, even if pastuerized beats the alternative of soy which is extremely unhealthy. Make sure your wife does not use soy products (with the exception of Tempeh, Natto and Miso).

Now I'm curious. What is the reason to avoid the soy products you mention?
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