Monday, October 5, 2015

'City Moms' Dairy Farm Tour Highlights

Dairy farming educator extraordinaire,
Linda Drendel talks about the farm.
Brian J Gerloff, DVM
Gracious and generous hosts, Linda and Dale Drendel welcomed the Illinois Farm Family 'City Moms' to their farm to share a bit of their extensive dairy farming knowledge with us. With 40 years of dairy farming experience, they have more to share than we could possibly absorb in our afternoon visit. Linda talked about their champion Holstein cows and the meticulous care given to their animals. She is passionate about dairy farming and the well being of the cows.
Brian shows us feed for the cows.

Beautiful weather for a farm tour.

The Holsteins on the Drendel farm are monitored and cared for regularly by veterinarian Brian J. Gerloff. Brian has years of experience with dairy cows. He grew up on a dairy farm and began his vet practice caring for dairy cows in 1985. He has witnessed the number of dairy farms in Northern Illinois decrease substantially since he began his practice.

Brian showed us the feed and described how feed is selected for the best nutrition for the cows. What I remember is that a totally mixed ration (TMR) is created to address the nutritional needs of the dairy animals. One of the ingredients is made from the whole corn plant (corn silage), another ingredient is hay. Another fun fact is that cows have four stomachs.

Despite the lovely weather on the day we visited, the cows chose to stay inside. There was an open gate on the side of the barn for them to exit at will, but they remained in the barn. Silly cows.

Beautiful baby cow.

Seeing the young ones of any species is usually a treat. The calves were all really beautiful, each with their own distinct markings. They were also generally very friendly.

Born to latch on.
Baby mammals are born with the survival instinct to suck. These calves will be fed their mother's colostrum and milk, but long term, they will not be getting their nutrition directly from the cow themselves. A calf will be separated from the cow approximately 6 -8 hours after birth due to safety concerns.The cow can pose a physical danger to the calf by her size and potential for laying on the calf. A calf in open pasture can wander off and get itself into trouble. The separation of the calf from the cow, also allows for better monitoring, by the farmer, of the health of the calf and it's food intake.
I'm a lactation consultant,
but this was a whole new suck assessment.

Each of the 'City Mom' farm tours has been a delight for me. With the opportunity to meet the farm families, each tour has served as a reminder of just how easy it has become for most of us to buy and consume safe, high quality nutrition for our families. I am grateful for the hard work and dedication of the farmers that goes into making such a wide range of healthy food available to the rest of us.

The fun continued discussing the dairy tour on radio.

Following the farm tour, I  had the opportunity along with Marla Behrends, from the Midwest Dairy Association, to join radio hosts Rita Frazer and DeLoss Jahnke on R.F.D. Illinois radio to share my experience as a 'City Mom' visiting the Drendel farm. Thanks, Rita and DeLoss, fellow Runza fan, for the opportunity, it was a pleasure talking with you both.

For a lovely cookbook with great recipes containing dairy, plus a brief introduction to the different breeds of dairy cows, checkout; A Dairy Good Cookbook edited by Lisa Kingsley.

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