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A funny way to show appreciation

From the Farm

July 15, 2011
By Kerry Hoffman

We try to be tremendously nice to our cows. I mean, they are a lot bigger than us and do know how to push their weight around.

Sometimes they appreciate our pleasant efforts; sometimes they don't.

This is one of the times that I get the sneaking suspicion that maybe they are appreciating our efforts just a bit too much.

Article Photos

Kerry Hoffman

You know, if we don't keep our cows comfortable, they retaliate by shutting off all four of their milk valves.

So, our latest effort to keep the cows clean and comfy was a project we did in the barn housing what we call Group 2 cows. The cows in this facility are late in their lactation, and creeping up on 305 days of keeping the milk spigot open.

Because they are milking fewer pounds than our Group 1 cows, they require special treatment especially when it comes to nutrition. I guess you could say, "They're special."

Cows in Group 1 are producing gobs of milk; and hence, they eat gobs of food.

Cows producing a lower amount of milk still eat gobs of food and tend to put on a bit of spare weight around the middle.

Due to plumpness concerns, we have to manipulate their environment to prevent them from becoming an overly- chubby statistic. Not even cows like to become an obesity statistic or having to deal with a social stigma.

Anyway, when the cows move into the Second Group, their diet changes to have less "fattening" food, or food with lots of energy, because, let's face it; cows are slothful and pretty sedentary. If they are not using the energy to produce milk, it goes straight to their hips.

And yes, the parlor will make their butts look big.

The issue, because I seem to have gotten off track a bit, was the entrance into the barn that 24 cows from Group 2 tromped through to get to the covered-bedding area. Yes, this group of cows prefers to be lying on a pile of cornstalks, rather than down in the pasture, where the green grass grows.

Go figure.

Because, essentially, 43,200 pounds stomped on the same path twice per day, a ravine was starting to form. It literally looked like an ant-size version of the Grand Tetons, including mountain ridges and deep ravines, with mud slides in the bottom.

We decided to remedy this problem by pouring a cement slab, which I grooved with a float, to prevent a gigantic miniature mountain range continued formation. Upon completion, the slab looked excellent with the grooves and the signatures of Joey, Ben and Russell.

After two days, we let the cows enter the barn to assess the new area.

The concrete slab solved the solution of the crags and gorges, but now we have another issue.

The cows prefer to lie on the slab, rather than in the soft-bedding area.

Go figure. Doh!

We have absolutely no idea why they would choose to lay on a slab of inflexible concrete instead of a forgiving bedding area consisting of cornstalks 4-foot thick.

We were better off before we poured the slab.

The cows were clean.

Now they look like moose and elk that wallow in mud holes; sans the antlers, of course. Because 24 cows choose to lie on an area that is merely 6-feet wide and approximately 50-feet long, it turns into a sloppy, extremely saturated area.

The cows come into the barn smelling like a week-old poopy diaper.


OK, I may be exaggerating a bit there, but the smell does make me curl my nose.

We have a bit of an enigma. We don't know how we are going to remedy this secondary problem.

Cows sure have a silly way of showing us their appreciation.

For questions, or comments, e-mail me at



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