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I am on a message board called Gentle Christian Mothers, which among other things is a support board for moms who choose not to go a punitive Ezzo or Pearls-type parenting style, yet still place boundaries and claim authority over their children. An interesting discussion came up regarding a statement on the Pearls' site about Jersey cows and how the calves are kept on a feeding schedule because of the richness of the milk. Is there any truth to that?

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Thanks for writing in with this most amusing question. WellI should say the claim is amusing to me, not the question. First, I must give a disclaimer. I am not a conventional milkmaid. Meaning, I do not utilize practices of the modern dairy industry. I could get rebuked and have lots of tomatoes thrown at me from other dairy farmers. My assertions are not scientific, but experiential. I do what I do because I rather like it this way. It works for me! But, it may not work for others!! Simply, I have a very good rationale for why I do what I door at least in my mind anyway.

We leave all of our calves with their mommas for at least six weeks. Specifically, they get all their mother's milk they want. It is a free for all. I have never noticed a scheduling by the Jersey girls. But, here is what I have noticed:

1) Those ladies feed the babies much better than I do. I have less choring when I let the mommas feed the calves. Less choring means I have more time for my six children and home schooling them. In essence, I would have to take the mother's milk and bottle it and feed it to them on a schedule. Once in the morning and once in the evening.

Some farmers actually feed calves the calf replacer. It is reconstituted dried whey. Whey is a by-product of the cheese making process and is only part of the milk. I found it more fulfilling to give these critters their mother's full milk. I don't feel like I am cheating these animals of their mother's milk for my own need to profit. This is my own personal hang up and many calves have live long and healthy lives when raised on calf replacer.

2) Leaving the calves with the mothers means less incidence of scours. Scours is a diarrhea calves pick up in confinement. My guess is they get it from the increased contamination from bottles. There are lots of reasons calves get this disease, but we rarely have it here. No scours means no antibiotics for these little guys. We like to keep things as natural as possible.

3) My calves are much larger and healthier than the standard Jersey calves their age.

There are some drawbacks to milking cows this way. As they near the six week mark, the calves tend to take all the milk. I have less and less each milking. The mother's hold back the hind milk for their babies and don't let down as much rich milk for me. I actually see these mothers hold the milk up high in their udders. Weaning time means there is a lot of bawling around here. The momma cows moo and so do the babies.

After about a week of separation, the cows begin to let down their milk normally. If I am really struggling and need milk, I might wean a little earlier, but generally everyone here knows we place precedent on healthy calves so we may be low on milk at certain times. Our cows calve all year round, so it is rare that I have lots of cows and calf pairs. It has worked out pretty good for us.

The added benefit for me is to see calves and cows be just what God intended. I love to see the calves nurse, romp and frolic with the herd. There are no calf hutches, chains and beds of gravel on this farm.

The Ezzo's and Pearl's have interesting assertions. I suppose for a standard conventional dairy farm, these principles might apply. Since we are atypical, I don't think they apply to this farm.

There are troubling dilemmas when comparing human behavior to that of animals. Take for example the planned parenthood movement. Some of the principles are based on the fact that humans can't control their desires so all children should have access to condoms and birth control. I am sure the Ezzo's and Pearl's would disagree with this premise. The truth is we really need to be careful about such assessments. I would not insist everyone operate a dairy the way we do. Do what works for you and your situation based on prayer and study of God's word. In the same way, I would not insist that everyone parent or home school the way I do. God created us with uniqueness. When we begin to take what God lays on our hearts and externalize it to create dogma for controlling others to be more like us we are walking a slippery slope.

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Posted in Transportation/Automotive Post Date 02/23/2017