|Our cows, resting on the bedded pack in our dairy barn.|
|An example of a photo I was afraid to share....|
cows walking in "poop" (manure).
I was talking with our hoof trimmer Brian (the lovely man who comes to give our cows pedicures twice a year) about the health of our cows' feet and hooves as compared to other types of dairy farms. He shared with me a very interesting point....but I'll start at the beginning first. Our cows are housed in a pack barn (see above picture) where they are allowed to roam freely each day around this pen. We bed it every few days with fresh wood saw dust. The bedding helps to keep our cows dry as well as comfortable. As you can see, they rest very comfortably. Much like a traditional modern free stall barn, we have a feed alley where the cows can also freely walk to and eat. In this feed alley, they walk in "poop" (manure). In fact, on certain days, with certain cows, they actually accidentally sleep on "poop". The "poop" is removed from the floor twice daily, but during parts of the day there is "poop" on the floor. Pictures that I have taken in our barn of cows eating on the alley have been carefully edited, cropped or avoided all together because I wasn't sure how I could explain to a consumer the fact that our cows walk in "poop". The funny thing is that I give tours to preschool kids and parents, where they see first hand the cows walking in "poop", and I was able to explain to them why this was ok, but I couldn't do it on my blog.
So...back to the hoof trimmer. Brian shared an interesting fact about cows that walk in "poop"...their hooves are actually in the best condition of all the feet he trims! No way! Walking in "poop" is actually good for cows...much like cows on pasture which will walk in mud, or create cow paths that may get moist! The moisture from the mud or in the case of our farm, "poop" acts a a moisturizer for cow feet, thereby helping the cow maintain good hoof growth (hooves grow like human finger nails). Brian also shared that cows that have feet that are always kept dry and clean, actually have a painful problem: their feet get hard, dry and brittle. In some cases the hoof material actually stops growing! So...I no longer need to feel ashamed to share a picture of our cows standing on a "poop" covered floor...because the truth is that our farm facility is natural to the cow and provides for her excellent hoof health! So rest assured...I am willing to share everything!