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The Gold Standard

 
Elia Charalambides
Posts: 78
Location: Boston
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"What you are looking at is the Gold Standard of calf care" he said as we walked from the large barn of milking cows to the single pens of separated calfs.

They each had a white shelter barely taller than their own height with an adjoining penned in area of earth barely large enough for them to stand it. My family and I were visiting a local Cabot coop farm. The farmer was taking us and a small group on a mini tour of his dairy operation.

Did he think gold was the most valuable of metals? I guess I didn't want to burst his bubble, being the son of a jeweler and all.

For a dairy, it was pretty clean. It was pretty nicely laid out. The cows seemed content and clean. They even walked to the self-milking machine all by themselves! It seemed like a pretty well put together operation. This of course is the opinion of someone who has no idea how to raise a cow, feed it, or milk it. Really anything about cows. Nothing. Other than the sounds they make, the smells they make and the fertilizer they make.

I can't argue with him when he proclaims that feeding cows corn is "Just fine" and that people who say it isn't have never raised cows, well....because I haven't. I can't argue with him when he says there's "reasons" why they separate the calfs practically immediately after they are born. I have nothing to say to him when I see lines and lines of cows in the giant barn sitting on their "$300 a piece waterbeds just for their comfort! ". I can't say it sounds like a waste after he proclaims triumphantly that they will toss a whole truck load of milk if anything tainting it comes up on the computer. If I saw the animals as a product in themselves, I would have nothing to say. But I don't see them as just products. Though I still have nothing to say. I don't have cows. What right do I have to question what this man has been doing for the past 30 years. And doing proudly.

It's all very automated with a nice gloss of human-ness painted over the top. Be it a very thin coating, its still there. I see maybe one or two farm hands for the couple hundred cows they have. I mean I guess people stop looking at their automated electronic reports of cow health every so often to actually get out there on the farm. Right?

So this must be the "Gold Standard" in all its glory! Everything automated. Waterbeds. Human to cow ratio of perhaps 1/100.

He went to Ag school. He has a nutritionist come tell him it's ok to feed his cows corn.

But something touches me on a very primal level when I see a calf only a few days old sitting all by itself in a pen maybe 3 times its size trying to suckle anything that remotely resembles a teet that comes into range. But I should ignore my gut, right? This isn't a huge industrialized farm. The place doesn't stink like hell. The animals look healthy. I'm told by Mr Farmer that its the "Gold Standard". So why does it bother me so much?
 
Kelly Smith
Posts: 699
Location: In a rain shadow - Fremont County, Southern CO
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Elia Charalambides wrote:So why does it bother me so much?


because deep down you know that is not how a cow should live.
~~~~~


what he means by the gold standard is - this is the most units of milk that can be produced for the cheapest cost while still meeting FDA standards.




imo - i see these confinement dairies as animal prisons and couldnt think of thinking milk from them, as it is effectively supporting what they do.
 
I think I'll just lie down here for a second. And ponder this tiny ad:
The stocking stuffer game for all your Permaculture companions
http://www.FoodForestCardGame.com
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