Sometimes we are mean to our cows.


December 9, 2013 by dairycarrie

Video of Treatment of Dairy Cows on Wisconsin Farm Digiorno Pizza

Well this is awkward. I have spent the last two years talking about our farm and how much I love my cows. If you have read more than a few posts here I hope that you understand my deep love for the cows in my care, “my girls“.

That being said sometimes I am mean to my cows. If you were to ask me if I have ever hit one of my cows I couldn’t tell you no without lying.

I am going to let you in on a secret, PETA and Mercy For Animals have shown you some truth in their undercover videos on dairy farms. The truth is sometimes as a dairy farmer I am mean to my cows.

I think it’s time we talk about “down” cows.

Wisconsin Jersey Dairy Cow Down with Milk Fever Receiveing Calcium IV Treatment from Farmer

This cow had milk fever after she calved. Thankfully she got up pretty easily after I gave her some calcium IV.

What is a down cow?

A down cow is a cow that is sick or injured and is laying down and can’t or won’t get up. A down cow is the kind of thing that will make your day go from great to very bad in short order. A down cow isn’t just something that happens on a dairy farm, beef cows can go down out on pasture, organic cows go down, if it’s a cow, it can go down.

Why does a cow go down?

A down cow can be down for about a million reasons. It can be something like she hurt her leg and doesn’t want to put weight on it to get up. It can be because she just had a calf and during delivery she pinched a nerve. A cow can be down because after calving she has a calcium imbalance that needs to be corrected. There are lots of reasons for a cow to go down.

So what’s the big deal if a cow goes down?

A cow is a big animal, I think we can all agree on that right? When a cow lays down for long periods of time all of her weight rests on her legs. Her legs start to lose circulation, as they lose circulation they become weak. A cow needs strong legs to lift her hefty frame up.The longer a cow is down the lower her chances of ever getting back up become. It doesn’t matter what caused the cow to go down in the first place, a down cow that doesn’t get up becomes a dead cow.

How do you get a down cow up?

This is where I will admit, I have been mean to my cows. But before you think I am a horrible person, let’s look at the facts.

So that’s a cow not wanting to get up that isn’t hurt or sick, she’s just comfy and doesn’t want to do what we want her to do. What do you do when a cow is really in trouble? You get serious.

In my video Hubs was slapping 451 and getting a little loud. Obviously it wasn’t hurting her because instead of getting up and kicking him in the head, she kept ignoring him.

Undercover animal rights videos like to show cows being yelled at and hit, having cattle prods used on them, being drug along the ground or being lifted with skid loaders or other heavy equipment. I will fully admit that I have done every one of those things.

Wisconsin Dairy Cow Down with Milk Fever Tied Up

Lifting a down cow takes patience and knowledge to keep her safe from hurting herself or us.

A down cow is a dead cow.

You have to get a cow on her feet if she is going to live. Time is of the essence. She absolutely has to get up.

When we have a down cow the first thing we do is ask her to get up like Hubs did in the video. If she doesn’t try to get up with that we know we have to try harder. As evident by their lack of talons, fangs and upper teeth, a cow is a prey animal. Prey animals operate on the fight or flight mentality, preferring flight whenever possible. A cow doesn’t want to fight with the scary thing, a cow wants to get away from the scary thing. In order to get away from the scary thing a cow has to get up!

When asking and gentle encouragement doesn’t work, I make myself scary to a cow. I yell and holler. I act aggressive. I smack harder. When that doesn’t work I know that things are going really bad and I have to try harder to get her up. The next step is for me to use the cattle prod.

A cattle prod delivers a painful electric shock. It hurts. It’s not a shock that will incapacitate you like a taser, but it’s not a gentle nuzzle from a puppy nose. I have never been hit by one and I really don’t want to feel what it feels like but if it was a choice between dying and getting hit by a cattle prod charge? I hope the batteries are fresh!

When the cattle prod doesn’t work we get the skid loader. We will use a hip lift to lift the cow and allow her legs to regain circulation. When a cow weighs from 1,000-2,000lbs it takes heavy equipment to lift her.

Using a Skid Loader and Hip Clamp to Lift and Move a Wisconsin Dairy Cow Video

Using the skid loader to lift a cow.

Speaking of skid loaders, when a cow goes down in a place where she is blocking other cows or is at risk of being stepped on by other cows you have to move her. In a perfect world we roll her onto a sled and drag the sled with the cow on it to a better place, but life isn’t perfect. We have had cows that I have been nursing through an illness walk into the milking parlor, lay down and refuse to get up. Obviously you can’t just let them lay there. There is no way to get a sled or equipment to lift the cow into the parlor. That’s when we have to drag the cow to the sled. It sucks. I hate it. I also know that there isn’t another choice if I want the cow to live.

Using Sled to Move Wisconsin Dairy Cow Down

Rolling a down cow onto a sled.

I know that on any day that includes a down cow, if Mercy for Animals was undercover on our dairy farm, they could make a video and post it on YouTube and it would convince millions of people that I am an animal abuser in just a few short moments. On a good day, after giving it our all the cow gets up. She is sullen, scared and probably hates us but she is alive. The video would never show that. That part doesn’t fit what they want to tell you.

Mercy for Animals, PETA, Compassion Over Killing and other animal rights groups like to include video footage of these kinds of situations to try and turn people against me and my industry. Yes, some videos also show true abuse and I absolutely do not condone animal abuse. I am NOT making excuses for abusers. They deserve to rot. But I hope the next time another one of these abuse videos comes out that shows a down cow situation people take a little longer to think about what they saw and how they would handle that kind of situation. 

I love my cows and that means sometimes I have to be mean to them.

Treatment of Wisconsin Dairy Cows on Farm Digiorno Pizza

She loves me too.

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467 thoughts on “Sometimes we are mean to our cows.

  1. TOM BRYSON says:

    I understand how you feel. I am a retired dairy farmer, I just have a few goats now. The most distressing part of the job was dealing with “down” cows either from disorders like milk fever or trauma such as slipping on ice and damaging the pelvis. Metabolic disorders and accidents were less common under the older less intensive systems of management but without intensive dairying milk would be much more expensive for the consumer.

    Tom Bryson


    • Tracie says:

      Since milk isn’t required for life, I’m not sure why “without intensive dairying milk would be much more expensive for the consumer” matters at all. I’m not a PETA fan but is mass farming really in the best interest of the animals OR the people? Being so disconnected from your food source and what it takes to sustain yourself seems, to me, to encourage the excess and waste that is problematic of society today.

      • Jeffrey says:

        And I’m sure you’re producing all of your own food and milking your own cows and churning your own butter to get everything that you and your family eats. Intensive dairies look bad on the outside, but they are actually quite organized and cow comfort and handling is one of the top priorities of every large dairy I’ve heard about and visited. This is what society has become, and large dairies are what have been produced because of it. I’d much rather have several small dairy farms covering the country side like 30 years ago, but it’s not going to happen any time soon.

      • Beth says:

        Tracie I loved your post. And its a good question. Dairy items are not a need for humans. And locally I know organic raw milk sells for around $10 a gallon which is a fair price in my view. The milk comes from a small organic family farm.

        • Organic has nothing to do with family farms. Family farms are more likely to be organic, but they’re not the same thing. Organic is also just one of those buzz words that liberals like to throw around because it makes them more money. Organic or non-organic really doesn’t amount to a whole hill of beans and as long as withdraw times are adhered to organic doesn’t mean anything.

        • Sorry to sound rude but I’m glad you can afford $10 a gallon for milk. What, since it isn’t a “necessity” and I can’t afford it I just don’t get any? Great solution. I don’t care who raises it or what their claims are, I’m not spending $10 a gallon on milk. I have you know…food and gas to buy also.

      • bovidiva says:

        Tracie- Almost nothing is “required for life” other than water – we could make that argument about any specific food – does that really mean that we shouldn’t drink milk? Or eat apples? Or tofu? I agree that as a society we are disconnected from our food source, but that’s why I think it’s so important that dairy farmers like Carrie are prepared to tell their story and explain why they do what they do on farms. I don’t see it as a promotion of mass farming (not sure how you define that?) but, as Carrie pointed out, down cows exist in any cow herd – small or large, conventional or organic, dairy or beef – even holy cattle in India. It’s not a consequence of modern agriculture, it’s a consequence of weighing 1,500-2,000 lbs and being a bovine!

        • I believe that Tracie was responding to Tom’s post, where he (as a retired dairy farmer himself) remarked that a lot of the “Metabolic disorders and accidents were less common under the older less intensive systems of management but without intensive dairying milk would be much more expensive for the consumer. ” Her comment was perfectly reasonable in that context. Where is the tipping point? I too think that less intensive farming methods are the way to go. Do I have all the answers? No. Does any ONE? No. But if it were less challenging for more smallholders to exist, I think more people would be connected with their food, and some of the other issues would sort themselves out. IE excessive antibiotics use, some feedlot issues, etc. Not a magic solution, and with its own problems, but our culture of excess is doing very few of us very many favors.

        • The thing is bovidiva is that tofu and apples don’t suffer and feel pain. If you could lead a life without harming others why wouldn’t you?

      • A fair point that our society is very wasteful and disconnected from our food source. Those are very true statements. However, saying that the price of milk doesn’t matter, even though it is something that millions consume and depend upon, is like taking any other food product and saying we shouldn’t produce much of it it because we can substitute it for something else. Should we stop producing as much corn, because many people have stopped consuming processed grains, and those are not essential for life? The role is not on the food producers to say what society should or shouldn’t have readily available to consume, it is on the consumers to decide what is essential. Once the demand drops, the production will drop. And the bottom line is, any ethical person that makes their livelihood off the products of animals is going to care for them the best they possibly can, or face loss.

    • “Metabolic disorders and accidents were less common under the older less intensive systems of management but without intensive dairying milk would be much more expensive for the consumer.”

      And there you have the truth. Thanks, Tom!

    • cascadian12 says:

      Thank you for admitting that it’s all about the money. In my book, the welfare of the animals is the Number One goal. Our “intensive” farming system is rotten and needs to go. Pigs seem to have it the worst. Under these systems, the cost of food is subsidized by animal cruelty and worker injury. I will gladly pay more (and do) for dairy and eggs and meat (though I’m mostly vegetarian) that are produced according to the highest standards. Farmers should also be paid a living wage and benefits, and be able to afford their land and all the costs of farming. We need more farmers! All of these costs should be covered in the cost of food to consumers.

      People who can’t afford the real cost of food should be subsidized with Food Stamps. Instead, we have a “cheap food” policy that encourages a race to the bottom. I want to see this changed. Who’s with me?

      • dairycarrie says:

        If it were all about the money, there would be a hell of a lot less farmers out there.

      • John says:

        Handling down cows is never about the money, as soon as the cow goes down, and cows in small herds always outside, go down too, the money is already lost. If the cow can’t get up and walk normally she is going to be dead soon, and as soon as she goes down, she can’t be put in the food system anymore unless she gets better.

        One of the worst jobs a cattle farmer has is dealing with down animals. They often go down in places where it is hard to get at them, and they weigh up to 2000 pounds, and don’t come with lifting lugs to move them. Farmers will spend hours trying to get a cow to stand up again, lifting her as shown, carrying feed to her, giving her pain medication, anything to get her up and going. The worst job I ever have as a farmer is when I can’t get a down cow up and I have to end her suffering.

        • Paula says:

          I wish that animal barns were always built with the lift accessibility always in the planning . My friends old retired racehorse went down in her stall , and after hours of four adults struggling to get her and keep her up , it failed , the gave up and called the vet to put her down , she was very old , but if it happened outside or in the arena , the lift could have supported her for however long she needed to support her own weight . They were heartbroken , she was the last of her line .

      • Bill Lea says:

        I agree the race to the bottom began with the cheap food policies implemented by the USA Check out the committee for economic development established in about 1950. I belong to the National Farmers Organization and remember when the farmers piled up Sears, and M Ward catalogs up in Grant County Wi in protest of those on the committee. It made quite a fire and the national headlines. As you can see they accomplished the goal of removing human resources from agriculture.

  2. Barbara says:

    Great info- thank you for taking the time to clarify what is really often going on with farm life. As is so often in life, there is more to the story as you have shown. I’m enjoying your blog!

  3. M.M. says:

    Good article Carrie on clarifying a lot of misconceptions! One thing to note – the use of electric cattle prods, particularly on the beef side has become an “only when needed” practice lately. The BQA has really discouraged their use. I’m sure you also only use it when absolutely needed as well but just thought I would point out, similar to some of the other extremes, cattle prods are not used regularly. Its also worth noting, that while the cattle prod does hurt for a second the voltage is often less than an electric fence, which on occasion cattle break through… on their own.

    • Out of pure interest how would humans like it if a electric prod was used on them? Yet we allow electric prods to be used on animals.

      • dairycarrie says:

        We wouldn’t like it. But as I said above, it was that or death I will take the shock!

      • Beth says:

        So DairyCarrie the electric shock is more akin to when paramedics shock someone whose heart is stopped etc? In that case it makes sense.

        • dairycarrie says:

          Kind of but not exactly. If I had to draw a line between cows and humans on this I think I would say it’s more like forcing a person who had knee surgery to walk. As someone who has had knee surgery I know how much it hurts, but if I didn’t get up and walk my knee wouldn’t have healed right.

        • The difference is that the PT is able to reason with a human and have a dialog discussing why we have to get up and work that knee. They can explain, in great detail, all the the complications that can arise from not exercising the knee. We understand, can whine out loud and tell them to jump off a pier, but we understand. We cry, we beg, we bribe with cookies, but in the end we *know* that we have to do it. But with an animal, you cannot reason with them, you can talk until dawn about how if they don’t get up they will die. They know one thing, if they get up it will hurt, if they get up they may fall down yet again. We can’t explain all the ways that we can support them, pointing and showing them the help we can provide means nothing to them.

          Yea, it sucks. But consider that we do not speak animal and they do not speak human. They cannot be taught our language so that they can tell us where it hurts and we can’t seem to learn theirs so that we can explain the scary stuff we might have to do in order to help them. We have to take on the role of a predator sometimes. We don’t have teeth to nip at their bodies to encourage them to get up. We don’t have claws to rip their skin in the hope that they will get up to try to escape us. A cattle prod is a lot more kind than being left for coyotes, wild dogs or other predators and it’s a lot more kind than letting them suffer.

      • Elinor says:

        I believe Carrie addressed that in the post. She specifically said, she wouldn’t want it used on her for no reason, but if it was a choice between a prod or dying, she would willingly be “prodded”. Not sure why you skipped that part.

      • Mike Haley says:

        Growing up I have been hit with an electric prod several times (its called sibling love) while it hurt a bit it is very comparable to touching an electric fence, which we also did often as part of a truth or dare. That said the last time I think I used an electric prod was over a dozen years ago, crossing my fingers I don’t need a reason to utilize one anytime soon.

      • I Have been shocked by a cattle prod. It was purely by accident. It wasn’t pleasant but I have been in much worst pain. Pain inflicted on me by doctors who were helping me. Unfortunately for humans and animals, pain and discomfort can be a necessary evil. Would you leave an injured man at the bottom of a bluff to die because it would cause him pain to be hauled out. Would an er doctor not do a procedure because it caused someone pain. I think not. We are the caretakers of our animals responsible for their well being. As much as it hurts us there are times we have no choice but to take hard steps to help our animals. It is so sad that people who have limited knowledge in the care of animals have such a large voice. I hope that you will take the time to talk to some of your local farmers about your questions. Most of us would be glad to give you an insight into our world with animals.

      • Jamie says:

        Have you never went to a doctor and had a painfull procedure? How she explained it’s use it is much the same thing, she uses it to prevent death.

  4. rhett says:

    There is nothing worse than a down cow on a dairy–except a dead cow. i remember many days and long nights working with down cows to get them cared for and get them up, and usually not in the best of conditions and weather. I am glad you explained this in a factual truthful manner without trying to sugarcoat the realities of the situation. Great work, I hope others outside of the industry will now take a moment to think before they judge.

  5. Great article, I too have been mean to my cows, and like you, it was because I love them and I want them to live. I recently had to pull a calf ( a few months ago) and I thought if anyone saw a video of it I might be put away. We had to get the loader out to help us pull, we actually dragged the cow a few feet and I had to cut the cow to finally get the calf out, the calf came out with a pop. But the calf was alive the cow let me stitch her back up while she was licking her calf, laying down still. I put the calf in front of her to help her remember what all this pain was about. Then we used the loader to help the cow get up. Once up all went well, the cow was wobbly but happy to be a new mother. Without intervention the cow and calf would have died. I often cry and I often pray when trying to help an animal we do these very difficult things because we love our animals. The animal rights groups taking things out of context are horrible and I wish they would realize that sometimes they are doing more harm than good.

    • Cathy Rubel says:

      So how is what you did for the cow different from an episiotomy made by the obstetrician to help deliver the human baby? And no one thinks anything is bad about that.

      • dairycarrie says:

        I don’t know that no one thinks badly about an episiotomy! It makes me cross my legs!


        • Makes me cross my legs too. The cow in question was a first time mother and it just seemed like everything was way too tight, the cow would push in labor and it seemed like the opening was not big enough. I had never performed an episiotomy on a cow before but it just seemed like it needed done. I took a deep breath said a prayer and the instant the cut was made the calf literally popped out. Glad I loved my cow enough to be brave enough to do something I had only seen a vet do before. Sometimes in the middle of the night a vet would never make it in time. Sewing the cow up almost took more nerve, but she didn’t really seem to mind, she was happy her calf was out and her labor was over.

  6. Brian Reed says:

    Great job! Now if only those people who can still be influenced read this. I will be sharing.

  7. […] Sometimes we are mean to our cows. | The Adventures of Dairy Carrie… I think I Need a Drink! […]

  8. oct22Cjg says:

    Bravo! Thank you for taking the time to post this. I especially like the scary barn and music effect. 🙂 I hope people really take the time to watch this and learn from it. God Bless Farmers!!

  9. Nicki Gray says:

    its all about real knowledge and perspective , I too am a farmer and I hate it when people forget to be REAL and ask others to join them out in make believe world at the expense of others. Thank you for your story and perspective

    • I’d be okay with them asking people to go along with them. It’s the forcing everyone to their agenda that’s the one I have the problem with. There are very few people in the world that WANT animal cruelty, and the people who want no domestic animals use that to their advantage.

  10. Excellent piece Carrie. Your comment about whether you would want to be prodded or die was perfect, especially the “fresh batteries” comment, which shows how very little prods are used.

  11. Thank you for being honest. You are so correct with all you said.

  12. Great job, Carrie. Putting things into perspective but also addressing topics that are sensitive to both farmers and dairy customers. Everyone wants the animals to be well taken care of and you guys are doing it in the most humane way possible. I mean, if my dog gets hurt – am I going to let them lie and not get him help or take him the vet? Of course, I’m going to go what’s best the animal so I can get them better.

  13. Mary says:

    I had no idea about any of this, being a city person. Thanks!

  14. Wildrosebeef says:

    Not everyone realizes that when you have livestock you’ll get deadstock. But most importantly, not everyone understands the kind of “tough love” that has to be given to the animals in our care when their life is in danger. Finally, not everyone understands that a cow is not like most dogs where you can easily pick it up in your arms and carry it away when need be.

    Excellent post, Carrie, definitely sharing this one around.

  15. You are so brave – and amazing! Yes, there are things that have to happen on farms that look bad when taken out of context. But you showed the whole context and helped clear up misconceptions. GREAT JOB!

  16. Peggy Wagner says:

    Great article. You make us farm wives proud. An Informative, educational and honest protral of farming.v

  17. Mary says:

    Thanks for a well done article. I wonder if a PETA person was “down” due to a heart attack, would they want to have Electric paddles used to help jump start it again? Sometimes we are “mean” to humans to save lives as well.

  18. Lana says:

    GREAT JOB explaining in a truthful way what you do, what we do, and what all livestock farmers do. If any parent has had to get a reluctant child out of bed, they have experienced just a bit of what you talked about.

  19. TT says:

    Great article. We raise beef cows and do lose at least a cow or more a year from going down. This year we had a 2yo heifer go down after a tough birth. We hip hung her for a couple days off an on and she was not getting better. My brother went out to put her out of her misery and she shook her head at him. After a week she very weakly got up and made it through the summer slowly healing. After the Atlas blizzard that hit SD, she was one of the few that was found alive and it was so amazing to see her. She is a fighter!! Thanks for a wonderful article and exposing the truth!

  20. Crystal Leyba says:

    Thanks for putting a true spin on this subject! Farmers and ranchers have to take care of their animals if they are going to be successful and it isn’t always a rosey picture.

  21. Laura Medved says:

    I grew up on a dairy farm and am now married to a dairy farmer. and I agree 100% with the info you have provided. farmers run a business. our business is to produce milk, happy cows make milk. that’s as simple as I can put it. Good feed, good housing, good sanitation and good handling all makes good milk. it would only stand to logic that abusing your animals is bad for business. (not to mention, you spend all day with these animals, you love them!)
    Thank you for posting and trying to educate the public!

  22. Kelly says:

    Really great article. Thank you for sharing, Carrie.

  23. Jeanette says:

    Well said!! It’s just as true on my hog farm as it is on your dairy farm, although it’s a bit easier to move a pig than a dairy cow!! But if an animal is down, we will move Heaven & Earth to make it better!

  24. Vanessa LeMasters says:

    Thank you for, planning why it’s necessary to do what we do sometimes! When it comes to living or dying, you have to do what you can to make sure they live.

  25. Cheryl says:

    Excellent post! I have sheep instead of cows so they are easier to handle in many ways but I’ve had to drag a sheep all the way across the pasture because she was sick and wouldnt get up. If I had left her coyotes would have gotten her before I got back w help. We do what we have to do *because* we love them and because we are responsible for them.. Which most of us take very seriously!

  26. Teri Davis says:

    I tired to tell people seeing a post about supposed abuse that the man hosing the cow was trying to get her to stand to save her life. I was told I was wrong to get my head out of my ass and that no rescuer would ever do that to an animal . I said well in my 40 years of rescue and my childhood on a farm tells me you have no idea what you have to put some animals through to save their lives. Not one of these animal rights people has a clue or would be willing to fight for a life in person. I am animal welfare all the way. Animal rights people are about making money via propaganda. Attacking farmers is kind of funny who do they think grows their vegen diet?

  27. Gale Kenworthy says:

    Very informative. .. and TRUE… I lived on a daily farm. .. and if you don’t get them up QUICKLY, they will die. .. they are a big heavy animals.. very informative. … takes big stuff to move a big animal. ..

  28. Jenny says:

    What a wonderful and informative article! It is sad that people are ready to believe what uniformed and extremist organizations post about agriculture without actually gaining any first hand knowledge or education. I have noticed this trend on websites that demean and debase rodeos as well. One particular video shows a horse tripping during a saddle bronc ride (horse injuries are very rare during these events) and then getting up. The guys at the gate then herd the horse back into the holding pens. The video depicts this as “Injured horse forced to run.” Well, anyone who works around livestock knows that if a horse gets up, you dang well let it get up, as a downed horse is also very dangerous, as their body mass will crush their organs. Not only that, but there is no way you are going to “hold” the horse still or down on the ground when it wants to run. The absolute best course of action is to herd the horse to a safe, enclosed space, so that it can be evaluated by a vet, which is exactly what they did.

  29. In March of this year my neighbor bought five cattle from the sale, as he does every year. His intention to pasture them for the summer then butcher them in the fall. This spring he bought a miniature jersey cow (he thought it was a heifer). She had split her hoof getting off the trailer and went down. The other animals stepped on her and broke her femor. When I got involved she had been down for two days and was in very bad shape. The choices were: let her lie there and suffer, shoot her, or, try to get her up and help her. My neighbor brought her to my loft with his front end loader. We rolled her onto the hay floor and I devised a lift out of carpet, rope and chains. It took tremendous effort even though she weighed only 600 pounds but we got her up and suspended her from the rafters. This way she could bear weight on her legs as she was able but have support when she needed it. She ate hay and drank normally and stayed in the sling for about a week. Eventually she built a “false joint” out of cartilage and is now able to be turned out to graze. She doesn’t have a normal joint but it carries her weight and lets her walk, jump, play and run as she chooses. “Mona” has a happy life now but had PETA witnessed some of our actions they probably would have us arrested (if they could). I wonder, if they were Mona, would they prefer to be shot? Or, left to suffer until they died? Just sayin’. Thanks for shedding light on this important topic.

  30. swajgermon says:

    Thanks Carrie. We’ve had a bad run of down cows mostly due to metabolic issues. The biggest problem with a pasture based system is the vagaries of nature and drought has hit us pretty hard this year.
    But thanks for explaining this in a factual way. I’m sharing this so that my towny friends can get an understanding of why I’ve been so despondent lately.
    Even my tough as nails hubby has been reduced to tears often lately.
    It’s a tough business not made easier by the pseudo animal welfare groups spreading lies about what we do.
    Keep fighting the good fight. XXOO.

  31. Bev Berens says:

    Nice, nice job. Well written!

  32. […] how much I love my cows. If you were to read what I’ve previously written in the Guardian and on my blog, I hope that you would understand my deep love for the cows in my care, “my […]

  33. Mara says:

    Pretty sure I am like 451 when it comes to getting out of bed. I don’t want to leave because I’m so comfy.

    Nice work!

  34. Andrea Howe says:

    Thanks for explaining your reasoning behind some of these methods of caring for your animals, that can be easily misconstrued. I appreciated the lesson 🙂

  35. Great Article. I raise miniature goats and they are hard to work with sometimes. I dont have to use heavy equipment, but Pulling kids to save lives is not easy and doesn’t look like fun for the animal, but you do what you have to do for them. I love my little goats.

  36. Carrie, this is a REALLY great way to agvocate. The true meaning of educating readers, the public, the unknowing about WHY you have to treat your cows the way you do. Bravo!

  37. Kristen says:

    Way to go on the article having down cows or any animal is a difficult situation within itself because we can’t get verbal responses back from the cows like doctors can when dealing with sick people! The countless hours, energy, and after tears that go into down and then dead is something people need to know about also. A farmer won’t say it’s quiting time and go to bed they will be there til the end. This might be a bad thing to say but I’ve cried harder and longer over a cow dying than some people that have passed! People just don’t understand how a cow can touch a farmers heart daily, everyday it’s one of those situations you will only understand if you have been there. To the farmer she’s not just a cow!

  38. Chris Mitchell says:

    Cows just don’t always want to get up! It happens. And a bloated cow will die if she’s not soon up and relieved of her pressure. The video is great. I have to admit . (My Vegan friends would HATE me!) when I heard “In the arms of the Angels” I cracked up! I know, totally inappropriate but it made me snort milk out my nose!

  39. My first visit to a dairy farm included watching a farmer deal with a downed cow when I was getting there. I stood back and watched and wondered… and shot photos & videos. Not because I wanted to cause problems but because I wanted him to explain it all to me. I hadn’t found a way to talk through it on the blog yet, but I have talked a few people through it. Maybe some day.

  40. Jordan says:

    Such a nicely written, informative blog! I don’t have any hands-on experience with dairy cattle, so this is a great blog to help me give informed responses to others. Thank you!

  41. holsteinmama1206 says:

    From a fellow cow lover and sometimes meanie, thank you for sharing this article! Explaining why we do what we do can be a frustrating task but I think you’ve said it perfectly. In today’s society, we need more and more advocates like you!! Cheers to you and your love of cows and farming!

  42. Kathy says:

    I too Love my Cows! I dealt with my first unresponsive downer on Thanksgiving Morning. She had a calf about 1 week old. We did loose her and were very lucky to have a sister cow adopt and nurse her Baby. I have used the hip hoist and tractor 3 times a day with leg messages for 2 months and she is up and walking with the rest of the herd. Knowing first hand that it can be successful made this failure all the more painful.

  43. […] how much I love my cows. If you were to read what I’ve previously written in the Guardian and on my blog, I hope that you would understand my deep love for the cows in my care, “my […]

  44. Reva Campbell says:

    We out our dog in a sling once for several hours a day for about two weeks looked un humane but he was paralyzed in his back legs It worked. He is still walking today 14 years old but no vet bill! If the wrong person had seen him hanging under our shed they would have reported us!

  45. Marion Venema says:

    Good Article, Carrie. Thanks!

  46. Sarah says:

    Fantastic!! Thank you for giving people the opportunity to see how “real” farming is done. We undeniably have idiots in Australia that should be of concern to animal activists but majority of farmers do what they do for the sake of the animals. My husband had a piggery and I find I am constantly defending the industry as people only see what the activists want them to see. Rant over !!! Again amazing site. Thank you from Australia!!

  47. Trying to follow this great blog so I’m trying to sign in. I so get what you’re saying.

    • dairycarrie says:

      If you look on the right hand side of the page towards the top you will see a spot where you can enter your email address and get an email when I publish a new post.

      • Naila Costa says:

        they can’t get up because they are too heavy, because they were genetically bred to produce more than twice the milk they would do normally. so in a way, they are sick and abused just by the way they were bred to be abnormal. Don’t you think so? and what happens to their children?

        • dairycarrie says:

          Naila please go back and read the post again. I think you’re missing some major points.

        • Wolfie Vara says:

          And you are avoiding the question. Tell us please what happens to the calves born on your farm?

        • Here is a post from on how calves are treated: Cute!

        • Wolfie Vara let me ask you a question…where do you think veal comes from? Most dairy farms raise their calves to be replacement heifers for their own herds or to sell to other farmers. Most farmers pray for heifers just for that reason. Sad fact of life is that bull calves do more times then not, get sold for veal.
          I’m amazed at how many people there are on this thread that have no clue as to where their food comes from, That includes ALL edible foods in the grocery store. It ALL comes from farms of some type.
          For those who find what dairycarrie has to say about being “mean” to her cows, I have to ask…how would you propose to lift an animal that is 1,000+ up off the ground in an effort to save it’s life?

        • bovidiva says:

          Naila- Not so – we could equally see a downer cow in a developing country where there is little or no genetic selection and cows only give 7 lbs of milk per day. What do you consider “normal” when it comes to cows? Are you suggesting that our many breeds of dog should look like wolves still?

          As a side-note, humans have children, cows have calves!

        • Teri Davis says:

          Stop putting human emotions on animals while animals have feelings they are not human to say that they are is to belittle their value in my eyes. I have seen much kinder and so called ‘humane’ behavior from wildlife than I see in human beings and for that matter mostly arrogant posters who scream bloody murder about topics in which they are not educated in,but brain washed by propaganda by groups that not only admit they do not care about animals, but who just want the money in their pockets.

        • Beth says:

          While I strive to be vegetarian I would like to note that nasty comments directed at the owner of this nice blog, by people who profess to be caring human animals is really wrong.

          If I do not desire for whatever reason to eat animal flesh that is fine, but I have NO right to act in an un thoughtful manner be it words or actions. Yes, I think Americans eat way to much of everything, and eat way to much animal flesh. But I refuse to be nasty to someone because of that fact.

          But I have no desire to do anything more than have a thoughtful and thought provoking discussion with those I have differing views with.

          (BIG SMILE) How about we discuss how do we get the local mountain lions to stop eating the local deer, or stop the African lion from chasing and killing and then eating the gazelle. Oh and that eagle that keeps grabbing salmon from the river near our Sierra home and then only eating part of the salmon leaving the rest to rot and go to waste.

        • Seriously? Because they are obligate carnivores, humans are not. Google obligate. I will wait. And there is no “trying” or “wanting” to become vegetarian, you just do it. Actually, skip that step because dairy is so cruel, go vegan. For life.

        • Humans are closest to frugivores in our physiology (acid PH, enzymes, etc), like gorillas. Our main diet should be fruit, but we also need smaller amounts of grains, vegetables and meat, YES MEAT, to be healthy. You might notice gorillas eat meat, too. I will never go vegan because I know the long term health consequences. I would rather just buy all of my meat, eggs and dairy from farmers like this. I live in an agriculture economy, (also where ALL cattle are free range – large open fields full of grass, barns for protection), so it’s not hard to find them. I’ve had plenty of neighbors that named all of their cows, played with them, talked to them and took great care of them. As long as the animal lives a healthy, happy, a natural-as-possible lives and they die quickly, why should I have less rights than a cougar or a bear?

        • All fruits and vegetables are living things until we pluck them off a tree or pull them off the plant or cut the top of them off. There is a food chain for a reason. We have teeth for eating meat. I don’t judge people for being a vegetarian or vegan but I also ask for those who are to not judge me as well. The next time you eat lettuce just think of how the head was chopped off and the remainder left to die. It’s a very personal choice and people should not be judged for their choice. Just like not judging someone for the color of their skin or their sexual preference. If it doesn’t affect you then let it go.

        • Animals are sentient beings – they are cognitive, they can clearly feel pain, discern survival conditions, have specific preferences, express some degree of emotion, etc. For these reasons, sentient beings operate from a more evolved level of consciousness than plant life. Of course people have to eat something to survive. I really wonder how many people would still eat meat if they had to raise and kill their own cows, pigs, and chickens. I cannot imagine ever being able to do that. I do grow my own veggies though and I pick them when they are ripe, ready to fall off the plant anyway. Some fruits and veggies do not even require the plant to die, like peppers, tomatoes, oranges. etc.

        • cows have calves not children. If her farm is like most the females will be used to produce milk males will be sold to other dairies etc. Milk cows are generally not used for meat as they have a different body structure and do not have as much meat on them as a beef cow.

        • Nice try, lets be totally honest. I raise cattle. I have a personal milk cow because I love drinking raw milk which is another crazy can of worms. I have worked on a dairy for years, now retired. The calves born to milk cows are usually left with their mothers for 24 to 48 hours to get the colostrum they need. The milk from a cow that just calved usually is not kept for human consumption until about the fourth to seventh day after she calves, prior to that it is very yellow and rich with the antibodies, fat and nutrients a newborn calf needs. Most dairies will save this milk and feed it to any bottle calves they are currently raising so it is usually not wasted. Now for some math; half the calves born on a dairy are girls (heifers) and they become future producers of milk, the other half are males (bulls) and they not sold to other dairies, that makes no sense at all, because other dairies are birthing 50 percent bull calves also! You only need one bull for every 25 cows and a good bull can service twice that many cows and more if he is young. Many dairy artificially inseminate most of their cows and don’t keep many bulls at all. So what happens to those bull calves? Well they DO get sold to people who raise them for meat. They don’t butcher out the same as a beef breed of cattle do when they are slaughtered but they still produce meat. A dairy breed of cattle might dress out at 50% where a beef breed might dress out at 65%. What this translates to is that a dairy breed of cow is bred to produce milk and a beef breed is bred to make muscle. But still a cows highest and best use in this country is to produce milk and beef and dairy cows produce both very well. Ultimately it comes down to taking care of our animals the best that we can keeping them as healthy and happy and productive as possible. I believe in animal rights and animal welfare groups serve a purpose, they keep those of us who raise animals on our toes, they infuriate us with their often biased skewed points of view put they do police us in their way. I think diplomacy and honest communication are vital to both sides finding a middle ground. Carrie has done a wonderful and commendable job at honestly portraying what she does for a living, she does it with kindness and compassion. There will always be people who think exploiting an animal for it’s milk or flesh is horrendous and they are entitled to their opinion. I just wish they would be as honest as Carrie has been. The videos made to shock us are not truthful, just shocking. I would admire those videos and think they would make just as much impact if they kept to the facts of what is true abuse. There is enough in their videos showing true abuses and people who abuse animals should be dealt with in a serious manner. I have two 400′ poultry houses, cage free, organic grocery store eggs is what I raise. My farm houses approximately 20,000 hens. I recently had my employees contacted by an animal rights group and they were offered an ungodly amount of money to film abuses on my farm. They were told they would only be paid for video of abuse. They were told the types of things they could do to make things look abusive, like playing with an almost dead chicken, etc. Thank goodness my employees like me and respect me. The money they were offered was equal to about half a years salary. Anyone wonder if bribing someone to video abuses would ever cause abuse????

        • I don’t believe people are bribed to make video of abusive animals situations. Animal investigators who want convictions need to be squeaky clean about how they obtain evidence, or the perpetrators will not be convicted, which is difficult to do in any case because there are not enough laws protecting animals from abuse.

        • dairycarrie says:

          The groups who release these types of videos don’t care much about the abusers being convicted in court. They want the industry as a whole convicted in the court of public opinion.

        • While I know there are a few groups that want to appeal strictly to emotion, there are groups (e.g., the Humane Society) that are very concerned with getting convictions. As someone concerned about animal welfare, the last thing I want to see is unethical behavior from animal investigators (yes, investigators have to come from the activist community, because the official regulators aren’t doing squat), as that tarnishes what they are doing.

          As far as “the industry as a whole,” I’ve never known investigators to go after small well-managed organic farms with pastured animals. The abuses happen overwhelmingly in the large factory farms with workers each responsible for thousands of animals.

        • dairycarrie says:

          Is it not unethical for HSUS to use commercials that allow people to think that their donations will help shelter animals when HSUS doesn’t spend that money to help shelter animals?

          I think it’s unethical.

          Again, my neighbors milk 40 cows and their milk went to the same company as Wiese’s milk. You don’t think that MFA’s actions have hurt them as well?

        • In the case of my employees I will gladly say they were bribed! Offering someone almost half a years salary and then tell them they will only get paid if they show abuse and also then tell them HOW they could make it look abusive is criminal. There are plenty enough laws protecting animals from abuse, just like there are plenty enough laws protecting children and women from abuse. The laws themselves won’t stop the abuse.

        • Cyana, You have just completely discredited yourself. Don’t you know that livestock is largely exempt from anti-cruelty laws??? There are very FEW laws protecting animals in general, much less livestock.

        • dairycarrie says:

          Carole, please show some evidence of your claims. Because I think you’re full of it.

        • Scroll down to exemptions. Since exemptions apply to “commonly accepted husbandry practices,” and that covers a LOT of ground, you basically have no protection for normal farming operations, and very few for the “bad apples.” What usually happens in the latter cases is the employees get fired and the buyers of these animals (they have contracts with the growers) put on a show about how shocked and saddened they were by the whole thing and nothing changes.

          Anything else?

        • dairycarrie says:

          You have cited 3 animal rights websites here. Can you provide non biased information here?

          Yes there are practices on farms that don’t apply to pets. So there are some differences in how laws are applied but that doesn’t mean that farm animals are not protected.
          The abusers in the video at the calf ranch in Colorado have all been charged. I am sure the abusers in this new video will also be charged.
          I am all for strengthening anti animal cruelty penalties. I think that farmers should be the ones spearheading the efforts.

        • Okay you win Carole! I own “LIVESTOCK” for profit. I also like to eat “LIVESTOCK”. I also love the animals I raise, I also care about how they are treated. AND I don’t know about the laws concerning anti-cruelty or how many there are. I know what I think is cruel and what is not. When you lobby and win and there are new laws for me to abide by I just wonder who gets to decide what is cruel?

        • Do you have proof? Carrie asked me for evidence of my claims, which I gladly provided. Surely you can do the same.

          BTW…I came to this blog with an open mind, but I’m starting to feel hostility that can only come from people who have something to hide.

        • dairycarrie says:

          Carole your comments here have not made you seem open minded.

        • What comments would those be?

          Regarding the sites you call biased because they come from sources concerned about animal welfare, they are not. It’s a typical defense to call the sources “biased” when you don’t like the conclusions. But these sites all cite verifiable facts, like how many states exempt farm operations from animal welfare laws (most of them), which is exactly what I told you. If you don’t believe the facts, I can’t help you.

        • I too farm, and some people are bad. We have pigs, well a man was coming to buy a pig for his family. This pig was fully raised and ready to butcher. He was purchasing it alive and taking it home. He came to our farm and I did not like the way he talked or treated this pig. Needless to say he is not welcome back and we no longer do any business with him. Its a judgement call when it comes to farm animals. Not all farmers are bad because they eat meat and drink milk. Its like a business owning a liquor license, they dont make everyone an alchoholic and create bad crowds and fights.

        • Jamie Whittaker says:

          They are definitely paid and bribed to stage abuses. There was a law passed recently which prevents people from fraudulently obtaining a job to investigate abuse in animals. In many cases the people filming the abuse were part of the scene. Did you ever wonder why the person doesn’t put down the camera and stop what is going on? HSUS lost their recent law suit against Ringling Brothers in large part because their key witness was an ex-employee of Ringling Brothers that was on the HSUS payroll for the entire time the suit was in litigation (about 3 years I believe). PETA believes that the ends justify the means, they are willing to break laws and do whatever it takes to prove abuse. When confronted once about staging abuses for film the reply was that they only staged it because they knew it was true and couldn’t find another way to get it on film. So it’s ok for them to abuse animals to prove a point?

        • You’re referring to “Ag-gag” laws, which you should oppose if you are truly concerned about farm animal abuse. I am completely opposed to them. There is nothing wrong with taking a job in a farm under false pretenses with a goal of videotaping any abuse that goes on there. That is NOT unethical; it’s investigation. Would you oppose this in a childcare center if it could uncover abuse? When we have closed-circuit TV in all the factory farms monitored 24/7, people won’t need to take farm jobs under false pretenses.

          Do you really think people do this for the hell of it or to make money??? It’s much easier to deny the truth. The truth needs to be shown. It is extremely difficult for investigators to not do anything when the abuse is happening, but the point is to get evidence and convictions. If they stop the abuse, they will get fired and the abuse will continue. Get it??? All this is VERY different from being bribed to stage abuses!!! Do you have any evidence that such bribes ever took place?

          Your statement about Ringling Bros doesn’t make sense. The witness was an ex-employee working for HSUS. Is there a point here?

        • Jamie Whittaker says:

          The Ringling case is true, the judge certainly felt that the witness had a conflict of interest. He wasn’t hired until the lawsuit came up. Then they found him and put him on the payroll so he would be available to testify.

          As for the Ag-gag laws, when an investigator takes a job in order to frame the employer that should be a crime. It’s fraud if nothing else. I don’t think that people stage these things to make money, I think they truly believe they are doing a good thing. I also think they are very misguided.

          I know many people that work in all areas of the “animal industry” from farm animals to pets and there is one thing that they all have in common. They love the animals they work with. Working with animals in any capacity isn’t lucrative, and some of it is hard work, some times it’s heart-breaking, and if they didn’t love the animals they wouldn’t, they couldn’t do it.

          Many people seem to feel a need to interpret everything they see in a negative light. I don’t understand it. I have seen videos that were obviously staged. I sat in courtroom one day and watched the video of someone placing a dead bird in a water dish because it looked worse that way. They didn’t realize that part was caught on film, it was their film. I believe that many of the ultra animal rights people are pawns being inflamed and used by others.

          The ultimate goal is to end the use of all animals and that includes having no pets in your home. Most people don’t believe that, imagine how surprised they will be when they are losing their pets and they realize that they were part of the army that made it happen.

        • I buy and raise the bull calves for beef. 20% of beef purchased at the grocery store comes from a Holstein or other breed of dairy steer. Many times the meat is premium meat and a better quality than from a beef steer. I treat my calves like my babies. I play with them and talk to them the entire time I am doing my chores. I check on them at least twice a day (sometimes 3 or 4) and they are fed premium milk replacer and starter feed and they are on full feed for their entire life. When I lose a calf, I cry. It sucks. I raise animals for food and I give them the best possible life I can while they are here. I do give antibiotics. How would you like to suffer through illness until death without someone giving you any medicine at all? I think that is animal cruelty. I urge everyone to spend a week on a farm and if you don’t get attached to the animals in that short amount of time and wouldn’t treat them to the best of your ability then I would seriously question you, not the people who do it for a living.

        • EJ Douglas says:

          When I had my sons I produced enough milk to feed FOUR babies. So I bagged it and donated it to a place for premies that needed it. Am I genetically altered? I think not. You have NO idea what you are talking about. DairyCarrie had done an EXCELLENT job explaining how and why things are done. I’ve worked on both a beef cattle farm AND a dairy farm, so I can speak from experience. Go watch Dr. Pol on Animal Planet. He’s a VET and he will tell you she is not doing anything wrong. As for Vegan or vegetarian. Uh, we have CANINES for a REASON. We need meat in our diet to be healthy. PS- PEOPLE have children. Cows have calves.

        • I’m just curious: Have you tried nursing while you were pregnant, because I’ve heard it’s very painful. Of course, this is standard operating procedure with dairy cattle, who have abnormally large udders and often suffer from mastitis as a result.

        • dairycarrie says:

          Carole, many women nurse while they are pregnant with another child.

          Tell me how mastitis is a result of “abnormally large udders”? Tell me what size an udder is supposed to be on a cow?
          You seem know a great deal about dairy cow lactation.

        • OK, I’ll take the word of people who have direct experience of nursing while pregnant with another child. I only have the word of my sister whose experience was that it was very painful.

          Regarding the size of udders, of course all dairy cows have abnormally large udders, because they have been selectively bred that way. I don’t know much about cow lactation, but I know how to do research on a wide range of subjects. While I haven’t finished researching the link between mastitis and cow physiology, I came across a link that at least references how bacteria gets into the teats. This may be more a factor of constant milking than of physiology per se. Most references simply talk about treatment, and not causes, as if it’s a given that cows get mastitis.

        • bovidiva says:

          Carole- If you’re serious about researching this, I’d suggest you look at the peer-reviewed papers in the Journal of Dairy Science, all of which are open-access after they’ve been published for a year. That will give you a solid basis from which to learn.

          I’m not sure what you mean by “of course all dairy cows have abnormally large udders” – what is your reference point? Just as we have bred labrador dogs to look like labradors and not like greyhounds, a dairy cow does not look like a beef cow. It’s not bad, wrong or harmful, just a function of breeding. A non-lactating dairy cow will naturally have a smaller udder than a lactating dairy cow – that does not mean that the lactating cow is abnormal. Again, it’s just like nursing mothers – women can increase by up to three cup sizes when nursing!

          Bear in mind that cows are not constantly milked – most cows are milked twice per day, some three times, for about 10 minutes or so each time. Bacteria gets into the teats most easily right after milking because the teat canal is open for a short period of time post-milking, allowing bacteria to travel up it into the udder, however, this is not a function of breeding. It’s exactly the same mechanism by which nursing mothers get mastitis, or indeed lactating beef cows or sheep. I’ve had to treat ewes for mastitis that had never been milked nor been selected for udder size.

        • My reference point would be that cows produce much more milk now than they used to in the recent past, so udder size must accompany that:

          (please correct any facts that are wrong in the above blog). My THEORY is that the size of the udders (to carry 58 lbs of milk?) has to stress the udders to the point where they become susceptible to bacterial infection, but I have not yet found a study confirming this (I’m still looking). But I will look at the Journal of Dairy Science and ask my brother, who is a veterinarian (who once worked on a dairy farm), about this.

          Thanks for a very lucid and non-defensive answer to my post. I appreciate your sharing this information.

        • Jillaroo says:

          Um, breaking in here a little bit..
          We breed beef cattle in Australia, and I would just like to add, that some of our beef cows, purebred bos indicus cattle, have exremely large udders..
          Some don’t. our milking cow, a jersy is one that has a small udder.
          I think sometimes its just like women, some have big boobs, some don’t..
          genetically big udders on cows produce more milk, so are more common in dairy farms.. that doesn’t mean other cattle also don’t have ‘big boobs’ and it doesn’t mean milking cows cant have little ones..
          We sell our beef cows with big udders, because it is not practical here for them to have such large ones, on a free range cattle station, we cannot be checking them every day for injury to that area, and yes, they produce far too much milk for their calves, so get ill from it as well.
          So if you were to visit our farm, you could make an argument about how ‘see beef cows don’t get bit boobs like dairy cows, which must mean dairy cows are genetically altered some how’ but infact it is because we sell all the cows that are too big in that area..
          Just like a dairy farm probably sells the smaller sized dairy cows on..

          only my 2 cents.. have fun 🙂

        • EJ Douglas says:

          Carole, I am 5 feet tall and have 34 DDDD boobs because NATURE decided that’s what I needed. Again, NOT genetically or otherwise altered. I have had mastitis myself. It HAPPENS. It’s not a “given” as you so naively stated. If you would use some other sites that weren’t so biased and one sided you might actually learn something. I personally believe you are continuing to come on here just to be ugly and see yourself talk.

          Below is the REAL definition of mastitis which is the SAME in ANY lactating Mammal, human, cow, dog, etc…

          Mastitis is inflammation of tissue in one or both mammary glands inside the breast. Mastitis usually affects lactating women – women who are breastfeeding, producing milk. Hence, it is often referred to as lactation mastitis. The patient feels a hard, sore spot inside the breast. Mastitis can occur as a result of an infection or a blocked milk duct.

          According to studies, mastitis seems to affect approximately 10% of all breastfeeding mothers. However, study results have varied significantly, some indicating only 3% while others say 33% of women are affected. Mastitis, when it does occur, tends to emerge during the first three months after giving birth – but it can occur up to two years later. In rare cases mastitis can affect women who are not lactating.

          Some mothers mistakenly wean their babies when they develop mastitis. In most cases breastfeeding can continue during mastitis.

          The English word “mastitis” comes from the Greek word mastos meaning “breasts”, and the suffix “-itis” which comes from Modern Latin itis meaning “inflammation” (“itis” originally comes from Greek).

          According to Medilexicon’s medical dictionary, mastitis means “Inflammation of the breast.


        • EJ Douglas says:

          Mastitis is a medical condition NOT caused my abnormally large udders that EXCLUDES the cow affected from being milked. At the dairy I worked at, they were pulled out and treated by a Vet until the condition cleared. As for nursing while you are pregnant. Yea, I did. And NO it wasn’t any different.

        • Carole: My mother had six kids in about seven years, she nursed while pregnant for quite some time. She said she even nursed an older child and a newborn a few times because she had so much more milk once she gave birth again. Funny she never commented about how “very painful” it was. She did say she felt like a milk cow for several years…Hmmm might need to go call my mother and ask about this.

          Most dairy cows are dried off and allowed at least two months without being milked some much longer. I don’t know that my mother allowed herself much time off from lactating, I actually think she rather enjoyed it, as least from her stories.

          Your comments here Carole are very inflammatory and I’m just curious: Have you yourself tried nursing while pregnant? Do you have any children? Who get’s to say that dairy cattle have “abnormally large udders”? Yes most have large udders, but what is abnormally large? And can you show me where large udders correlates to increased mastitis? Because it aint’ so.

          If Carrie had anything to hide I don’t think she would blog her dairy life for all to see.

        • Why are my comments inflammatory? I haven’t tried nursing while pregnant. If I had, I would know the answer and wouldn’t have asked the question. Unlike you, I’m not defensive about the truth, no matter which way the chips fall.

          I’m continuing to research a possible link between large udders and mastitis. I may be wrong, but I will find out. I’ll let you know.

        • Teri Davis says:

          You say animal welfare but you describe animal rights and lobbyists. You are very wrong about no laws covering livestock and animal cruelty. The laws are not only set by federal USDA but states as well as all the way down to a township level.. In fact when the Society for Prevention to Cruelty to ANimals was founded (and she would roll over in her grave if she knew what it had become) It was started for LIVESTOCK aka horses. So tout all you want fling words like welfare but if you walk like a duck and talk like a duck and QUACK like a duck I am calling you a self serving animal rights activist who disgusts me to the core. I am CEO of an animal welfare that assists existing shelters. I go out every day and fight for animal lives. What have you done today besides spout from your lobbying soapbox. Thanks Carrie for loving your animals.

        • Jillaroo says:

          Its upsetting that you are doing such a biased study.
          trying to find evidence between large udders and mastitis, you will most certainly come up with something..
          but at the end of the day, your study will not have respect, because it will have been done in such a biased and closed viewpoint.
          Pollyanna always said, if you look for the bad in someone you will always find it.
          same goes for looking for the bad in the ag industry. you can find it. This doesn’t make us all bad… only means you have found bad things in a generally good thing.

          If you want to do a study that will have both meaning and respect, look for the general causes of mastitis and who is suseptible. You will find that all cattle can get it, along with sheep, goats dogs and even people.
          and most importantly, it is not generally caused by big boobs. It is caused by a lot of other factors, which sometimes are made worse by big boobs. But never directly caused by it..

        • Matt Plowman says:

          Why is she(Carol) not corrected with the fact that a large udder has nothing to do with the amount of milk the animal produces. The AI world has made leaps and bounds toward nice high udders and yet the milk curve has gone up for decades in efficiency which translates to a smaller carbon footprint.

        • Wow. You really know nothing about cows. Cows across the WORLD, in countries where they do not breed for milk production, still weigh 800-1300 pounds depending on breed. Cows are not ‘miniature’ animals. How much can you bench press? Their ‘CHILDREN’? You mean their calves. Their calves are typically fed and raised until they enter into the production chain. Unfortunately I feel like my response is only going to fuel more ignorant rants.

        • dairycarrie says:

          Welcome to my world Kristy 😉

        • Matt Plowman says:

          Your doing a great thing here, even if its educating one person at a time, keep up the good work!

        • Naila, I am 60 yrs old and was raised on a farm. Downers doesn’t just reply to cows, but horses too. Our cows and horsed were not over bred, genetically bred to do any thing, But a large animal that is down and can’t get up is in trouble. If you have ever watched National Geographic, Elephants and Rhinos have the same problem.

  48. Charmayne says:

    I’m so happy to see this article. And not only that, but to see all the positive comments that aren’t normally associated with an article of this type. I hope people continue to view this as a worthwhile article to learn about the truth behind why we do what we do. I may not be a dairy farmer, but I work with beef cattle and my dad is in the beef industry and used to haul cattle for a large company (beef as well as dairy), and occasionally cows would go down on him. But because of all of the negativity surrounding the tough love we give these animals my dad and his coworkers were prohibited from using the tools necessary in some cases to save the lives of these animals because video cameras were present. Hopefully, though, with articles like this we can turn the tide and allow for positive change to come about. Again, thank you for the wonderful article, and please keep continuing to help in the battle for Agvocacy!

  49. Rachel says:

    Hi Carrie, I loved your post about being “mean” to your cows. I am a new rancher and blogger and I have a hard time explaining how we treat our cows to the general public. We love our cows too but some of the things we have to do to them–for their own good–are seen as cruel. Thanks for writing exactly what I have been thinking!

    • Matt Plowman says:

      As a farmer also I explain it like going to the dentist, nobody looks forward to going and there may be pain but is necessary. Maybe just maybe a city slicker could grasp that analogy. And there are plenty of examples: pulling a calf, hooftrimming, vet checking(I dont want an arm up my arse) but its necessary for there health and well being.

      • Beth says:

        Yes, there are some (not all) vegans who can be mean spirited and judgmental rather than constructive in conversations per not eating animal products. Yet, I have also encountered a good number of animal product consumers who can be mean spirited and judgmental about vegans and vegetarians. Both type people tend to be for me, the type who are defensive rather than thought provoking.

        Would also like to note that personally I have encountered far more new rural folks who have no idea where their food comes from than all my friends and acquaintances that number in the thousands who live in places like San Francisco, Berkeley, NYC, Paris etc. It would seem there are far more suburbanites who have no idea where their milk, egg, meat comes from.

        It pains me (literally) when I see or read comments that are hurtful to either vegan/vegetarians or animal food eaters. Why? Because its akin to building a bigger wall, rather than a bridge.

        • Ria Greiff says:

          I understand everything that you and Rosie are saying, but these people were calling “Abby” a cunt, a whore and a bitch. They were not trying to help this cow on any level but were taking great pleasure in harming her. Don’t compare yourselves with these monsters.

  50. S Harter says:

    I am so glad that you posted this and I wish there was a way that you could force people to read it. I, too, love my cows…but have also been mean to them. The one that sticks most in my mind is a cow that had a pinched nerve after having a 136 lb bull calf…I think that’s equivalent to a 12 lb baby in people terms…pretty big boy. She went down in our box stall…would not get up for anything so it took 5 of us and a winch to drag her out onto the walk of our barn to get her into the float tank…which I have to say is a pretty cool invention…water therapy for cows. She stayed in the float tank for 36 hours, went on a muscle strengthener and I am happy to say that she just calved with a 125 lb bull calf…go figure…and still has a very bright future on our farm. I hated to see the trauma she had to go through to get her into that float tank, but in the long run, it was well worth it. Animal rights activists, if they want to be true to their cause, should really investigate and report on the whole story. Yes, there are people out there who abuse animals. They should make sure THOSE are the cases they are fighting against…not the good people who truly care for their profession and way of life to ensure that their animals are healthy and have the best life possible.

    • Janet Gerl says:

      So you don’t think keeping 4,500 cows in metal buildings is cruel? I think you’ve j ust become accustomed to it, that you don’t see that it is so far from unnatural. It’s not a healthy, natural way to live. Mother Nature never intended for there to be milk cows for starters, and then to breed them for these humungous udders that are so distortedly large, when they calf they are separated from their young and put back into the milk factory while their calves are locked up in little calf starter huts (cruelty). Your just so deep into this you can’t even see the bizarreness of it from afar. No one and I mean no one should have an operation where they care of 4,500 cows. And the picture of you kissing 1 of the 4,500 cows like it’s your pet. Really…….who are you trying to scam?? The only reason you have 4,500 cows is because you want to make money……as much money as you can… you keep adding more and more cattle. By the way, how long does the average cow live in one of these farm factories…..tell the truth….because there are statistics that I can check. You know for a fact that their life is shortened because of their unnatural living conditions.

      • bovidiva says:

        Unless I’ve missed something huge, Dairy Carrie has 100 or so cows. Heck, why not go the whole hog and suggest she has a million cattle?!

        • Dean Wiegert says:

          Never the less, Janet Gerl has a point. These animals are so overbred that they cannot even lay down for any length of time as attested to by Dairy Carrie. That is unnatural. The cow does not want to get up, the cow probably has given up. Life as a dairy cow, pumped with hormones and antibiotics, force bred, denied of natural maternal behaviors in feeding and caring for its young, often confined for most of its life on cement, and usually living an unnaturally short life IS NO FUN. We should not be making excuses for abuse as documented on video.

        • dairycarrie says:

          Dean go back and read again. You’re missing a lot of information in this post.

        • Janet Gerl says:

          Dairiecarrie, if you have 100 cows on your farm, I apologize. My statements weren’t directed at you. I clicked on a link someone posted to facebook, regarding the Weise farm problems… was posted to look as though you were part of the Weise farm management. Why would someone post your information to show people that the disasters on the 4,500 cattle dairy farm is not a big deal. Doesn’t this prove that most people don’t have a clue?

        • bovidiva says:

          Dean – That’s not the point at all. Downer cows are those that cannot get up because they have trapped a nerve, damaged themselves or have had a hard time calving, not just those who can’t be bothered to. Modern dairy cows lie down for a substantial portion of their day because it actually aids with digestion, just as their ancestors would have done – there is no effect of “overbreeding” whatsoever. Dairy Carrie does not make excuses for abuse and states that it should not happen, as have all the dairy producers who have commented on this post. Suggest that you read it again and comment appropriately rather than spouting hyperbole.

        • Kelly Carter says:

          I work with horses, and am relived to read this post. There is a fine line between abuse and necessary firmness. These animals are big and we do need them to respect us so that everyone stays safe. I also find that horses I have worked with who respect me struggle less if they are in a situation that requires me to administer some sort of medical aid. A struggling animal will often hurt itself more.

          But more to the point, dairy cattle are not the only animal who can not lay down for long periods of time. Horses, buffalo, beef cattle and any other large critter can not breathe properly if they lay down to long, and because of their weight they will severely damage their muscles and are at risk of all sort of septic infections such as ganggreen that takes place after you get them up. They also often go into shock and die before anything can be done. The way that dairy cattle have been bred does not make this worse or in any way more difficult for them. It is a fact when you own and work with large animals. And yes sometimes you have to be downright cruel to get an animal up especially if it has started to go into shock.

          Secondly, as much as a dairy farm is not “natural”, these animals are not pumped up with steroids or antibiotics as you claim (at least not in Canada). Any animal who needs any treatment with any drug must come off the line and her milk gets tossed down the drain. A farm could loose its quota if they get caught dong anything other than that. Same goes with beef. They are not allowed injections of any kind within several months of slaughter if they are going for human consumption, and some drugs they are not allowed to receive ever.

          I am a firm believer that all of the “animal rights” groups need to understand the industries they criticize before they should be allowed to scream cruelty. Most of them think that any animal in an “unnatural” setting is cruelty. Catch is most of our domesticated animals are unable to servive in a “natural” wild environment, and those groups never remember that fact. Also, down in the US where horses can no longer be sent to slaughter, many have been left to starve to death or turned loose to be hit by cars and starved on their own. So which is really more cruel? I can tell you if you can’t afford to feed an animal you sure can’t afford the $500+ that it costs to humanly euthanize an animal, and the market has been so bad that selling is often not an option.

        • Why don’t you go observe a herd of Cape Buffalo in Africa and tell me how much time they spend laying down for extended periods of time? Large prey animals are not evolved to to spend long periods of time in “leisure positions” because they will get eaten. To state that these animals have acquired these problems because of selective breeding for production characteristics is simply ignorant.

        • Most farmers do not use hormones anymore. I know in our area your milk tank gets dipped before the buyer will take a load. If you come back with a positive test the load is rejected. Which would lead to a termination of contract, which would then lead to a bankrupt farm.

      • Unless you have ever lived , breathed slept and eaten farming, you really need to shut up. Your statics are a lot of crap because the people gathering them LIE to make FARMERS look bad, where do you think your food comes from the grocery store ?? nature had NOTHING to do with making huge milk udders on a cow , GOD made cows as part of the food chain milk and meat both, personally I would LOVE to sit back and watch all you people that trash talk hard working farmers raise your own food , that would be a show .HA You take everything you have for granted give NO thought to where it comes from nor what people that produce it go thru so you can eat , drink or what ever , grow up get off your high horses , be very thankful for the FARMERS that do what they do so YOU can eat and live comfortably. OH BTW I HAVE LIVED THE LIFE SO I KNOW !!!!!!!!

        • Beth says:

          Dorotha Davis your comments on December 11, 2013 at 6:12 pm where you said ‘Unless you have ever lived , breathed slept and eaten farming, you really need to shut up’, does not make much sense in many ways.

          Does this mean if I have not owned a factory in Bangladesh that I have no right to comment on my view that the plants need to have humane and safe working conditions, because of recent news stories of hundreds and hundreds of workers dying either in fires or collapsed unsafe building?

          Under cover law enforcement often ‘stand by’ as someone is being hurt in order to make a strong case for arresting and getting a conviction. In fact a recent story on the arrest of dozens of men for child pornography where the abuse of the children in question was not stopped a year ago when first discovered continued because law enforcement needed a lot of proof to make an air tight conviction.

          So how is that different from someone who has been told there is animal abuse occurring, filming under cover, yet not stopping the actions?

          One thing I will say for local small ranchers is the ones I know allow you come by to visit, but you do have to agree to put on booties over your shoes, and a hair net if you want to be around their animals because they do not want nasties being brought in that could harm their animals. ALL the organic food growers like the ones who sell at the certified organic farmers market and CSA’s allow visitors but also have safety rules.

          And ALL my vegan/vegetarian and carnivore friends who have yards grow some of their own food and ALL know and care where ALL their food comes from. Unlike the average Americans (IMO).

          Do YOU know where ALL of the food that you BUY, comes from?

        • Do you really think we started drinking cows milk because God created cows for us? We started drinking cows milk because cows are herd animals and humans discovered cows are easy to contain and control. It’s not like we struck nutritional gold when we started drinking cows milk. It’s not even a healthy or necessary thing to drink. It’s a commercial product that has billions of dollars behind it in advertising. Do yourself(and the cows) a favor and wean yourself.

        • You do realize milk products are in most products. To “ween yourself” you would be giving up chocolate, ice cream, coffee cream, frosting on cake, almost all flavored pastas, pumpkin pie, soup, cream cheese, every cheese, yogurt…think about that the next time you eat a dorito, snickers bar, pasta roni, or stop for ice cream on a hot day. Maybe God did put cows here to share the wealth of their milk. Maybe he did give us grapes for a good wine. Maybe he whispered to someone to place a bucket under Bessi and feed his family her milk and churn some butter. He had Noah build an arch. Maybe he told the farmer to drink the milk and feed his neighbors.

        • Um, do you realize all the products you listed above are available dairy free? And pretty much all the food you mentioned above is also processed and not healthy to eat anyways. I am 100% dairy free. I grew up on it, but I luckily discovered later on there is no reason for it. I don’t eat cheese(that was the only thing that was mildly difficult to give up). The rest was easy peezy. Real chocolate is just cocoa, cocoa butter(which is NOT dairy), lecithin, sugar, vanilla, etc. Only when it’s milk chocolate is there dairy in it. There are a ton of non-dairy ice creams if you need a lil ice cream in your life(Coconut Bliss is delicious), there are plenty of non-dairy coffee creamers out there, and there is also almond, coconut, soy yogurts. You don’t need dairy in soups, pastas, pies, etc…. So yes, I am 100% weaned. I hope people can take an honest look at the dairy industry and see them for what they are, a multi-billion dollar industry that profits off the backs of innocent cows. They spend billions of dollars in advertising, making people think their products are “health foods”, when that is far from the truth. Does anyone wonder why our country is one of the top consumers of dairy(which the dairy industry promotes as “good for the bones”), yet we have some of the highest rates of osteoporosis and bone fractures?

        • Do some natural health research and you will find that modern society has a huge problem with thyroid disease, and raw milk and dairy products are one of the most effective foods to help stabilise those conditions, along with grassfed meat broth and gelatine and fruit – soy is one of the worst things for it I believe.

        • If only I could get RAW dairy….

        • Mark says:

          Just wondering if someone named Ang (short for Angus) wears artificial leather shoes?

        • KA Sullivan says:

          Yes, All Pure Processed CRAP. So glad you listed so many of the things folks should be weaned from. 🙂

        • Beth says:

          KA Sullivan not all items like ”chocolate, ice cream, coffee cream, frosting on cake, flavored pastas, pumpkin pie, soup, cream cheese, every cheese, yogurt’…as examples need be made from dairy, which I am surprised you did not note when you wrote ‘Yes, All Pure Processed CRAP. So glad you listed so many of the things folks should be weaned from. 🙂 ‘

          I make a lot of these in a vegan manner. And even my angus beef rancher friends liked the vegan alternatives. Same with Garth Brooks favorite black bean vegan lasagna that his wife makes which is now a favorite of ours.

        • The cheese alternatives I’ve heard about are either cashew (I’m allergic) based, or soy protein isolate aka TVP based, which is SO NOT a food. If you know of something else that makes a cheese, other than, say, cheese, let me know.

        • That is uneducated we are the only species that drinks that continues to have dairy past child hood, your body will stop producing lactase after long periods of time not having dairy, Lactase is what breaks down the sugar in milk everyone to a certain extent is lactose intolerant because our ability to produce lactase changes with use of dairy. naturally our bodies, and the bodies of all animals ween themselves off of dairy products when they are able to begin digesting there main food sources. If you’ve studied the human body at all you would know that we are supposed to consume large quantities of veggies, fruits, nuts, tubers, and what not meat is not something we are supposed to have constantly. The consequences of consuming dairy products outweigh the benefits. to author your right neither side is wrong there have been many documented cases of abuse caught on tape as well as many misunderstandings. I have seen the damage that can be done when a cow or horse refuses to get back up and the lengths people will go to get them on there feet. i would like to point out a comment above stated that many of these domesticated animals would not survive without us. all domesticated animals have certain tendencies that have been breed out of them live stock do not have defenses against predators, they are easier prey and birthing is difficult, and they would eat themselves out of resources if given the chance these are species that we have taken many years to cultivate. They have the potential to be a harmful invasive species much like ourselves. this is true of every domesticated animal. while it is ideal to reduce the number of animal products we consume in America, the consumer market does not allow for it, it would go along way in helping people with obesity, general health, greenhouse gases, deforestation and what not. however increasing crop growth has its difficulties and creating a global movement for an increase in organic vegetable,fruit, nut etc, and a decrease in meat and dairy consumption on even a minimal level doesn’t show a sign of happening any time soon. on the bright side consumer markets won’t mean much when the sun dies and were forced into a ice age which is inevitable, or when increased salinization slowly destroys our ability to produce food for our inflated population, or we are hit with another plague, or we go to far with nuclear war fair. we reap what we so my friend pick your poison.

        • dairycarrie says:

          I hope you don’t tell our barn cats that they can’t have milk any more… we are not the only species to drink milk after childhood. However, we do have opposable thumbs and brains that have allowed us to figure out that we can milk cows and that their milk is tasty and nutritious. v

        • And luckily our brains have helped us realize that milk isn’t all it’s cracked up to be nutrition-wise. It might be tasty, but it also negatively impacts our health. Here’s some info on cows milk and prostate cancer risk.

        • catgrill says:

          Cow’s milk is bad for cats. It gives them diarrhea and that in turn draws water out of their bodies making them dehydrated. Read more here:

      • Jason Newton says:

        Janet Gerl…do you live in a hunter gather society? Your life is so far from natural…and has been greatly improved by agriculture. You make generalizations from incorrect assumptions and or false premise..then go off on a rant.

      • when a kid does something stupid that could have gotten them seriously hurt or killed, parents first reaction is to make sure their OK and if they are, smack them for doing something stupid, (DO NOT take smack for face value could be whatever it is that a parent does to get a child’s attention) its called tough love, and if you don’t do it, you don’t care enough. same goes here, I disagree with you, I don’t think your being mean, just doing what you need to do to take care of that animal. keep up the good work and I’m glad to see you don’t give up

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