Where do you start on a farm where the main source on income and most important animal is the cow. I decided to leave the cow part until last as there is so much to say. The photo above shows a cow (calf) that was born one day before I arrived. I felt quite sorry for the little man, all on his own in an "igloo" with no mummy nearbye, although he had everything he needed. His own room, food and care. The cows on this farm are nearly all black and white, the so-called Holstein cows. When they are born they are put into the igloos for the first week or so where they have more or less round the clock care.
You will probably notice that all the cows (actually all the animals) have earrings of a light fashionable plastic. As soon as they are born these markings are put into their ears. The process is absolutely painless and it is of course, for the organisation of the cow business. After all the companies and public dealing with cows, want to be able to know where the cows come from and cow infections and illnesses are kept under better control.
This little calf is a male, and might grow into a bull. If he does he will probably become a professional bull having lots of children, that he will never see, but will be well cared for. The cows on this farm are kept for their milk production. I asked the farmer's wife if she had a bull, but she said it is better not to have one as they can cause a lot of trouble. The vet comes now and again and after he has gone the cows are expecting - poor cows.
Whe the calves get bigger they are put into the cow shed where they have there own separate room. As they grow they are put together with the cows and their milky life begins. The cow stable is very modern and new. I was very impressed how clean it was. The floor is a sort of conveyer belt and when it is cleaned the belt is switched on and the dirt is collected is a sort of bin. It makes it easier to clean. I was very impressed. The old cow shed has been taken over by the expanding goat population.
Of course it would be a boring life for a cow couped up indoors all the time. Now and again there might be some music from the farmer's radio, but after all a cow should be able to take a walk now and again. The farm is surrounded by beautiful green fields and an orchard with apple and cherry trees, so now and again the cows are kept outside. During the warm Summer months it can get a bit hot for a cow in the lowlands, although the flies do not really seem to bother them much. The farm has some land in the nearbye Jura mountain chain. Just far enough for an hour's drive by tractor and container pulled along. So for a few chosen cows they go up to the alp for the Summer months - sort of farm holiday. Here are some photos of the cows outside.
There are actually 3 farms in a row, each farm doing its own thing. Next door to this farm there are some sheep grazing in the orchard.
As I mentioned this farm depends mostly on milk production. When the cow stable was built with all mod cons, the milking room was also built with the most modern milking system. Gone are the days when the farmer sat on his 3-legged stool, smeared his hands with milking butter (or whatever it was called) and had to work out which part of the udder to pull first. Now it is all done by computer. I would have liked to have filmed the milking process in action, but it was three in the afternoon and was told that the cows are milked in the evening. However, I took a photo of the milking chamber. The cows are lead into the room and stand around on the balcony. The milking machine is then attached to the udder and the computer does the rest under the watchful eyes of the farmer. As I spent my childhood in East London my farm knowledge is fairly basic but those who may chance to read this blog will probably know better than I do how it all works. Here is a photo of the milking room/chamber/operating theatre?
And here is one of the cows to wish you goodbye - until the next time, I don't think this will be my last visit - after all we have harvest time in Autumn when the crops are gathered in.