It was a pretty tough Sunday morning a few weeks ago. Joe was filling in at the dairy for an employee who had the morning off, and started by reading through computer reports. Our program creates a list every morning of cows who are down 20% of milk compared to their 7-day average.
And that is where 877 comes in. This was not a cow to frequent the ‘low list’. 877 is our record-breaker. She has given birth to 9 calves in the past 10 years. And she was a milk producer without equal on our farm.
From one cow.
3,055 days (spread across 10 years) of producing wholesome and delicious milk for all of us to enjoy.
I guess what makes her super special to us is that she has done this enormous feat without any coddling. We pride ourselves on taking excellent care of all of our animals and she was no exception. She just did her routine thing, day after day. Having given birth 9 times, she had 8 ‘dry periods’ which is farmer speak for the 7-week rest period that has been proven by research to be ideal for cows as they finish one lactation and look to begin a new one. Other than those times, she was an absolute milk-maker.
Yet now, 877 was on the low list. Moreover, Joe had spotted her a few days prior laying awkwardly in a stall and noted that she just looked tired. That’s a heart-breaking combination for a farmer.
Joe went into the pen and found her. A physical exam revealed what he had feared — the days of 877 being a productive dairy cow were over. And he was going to need to put her to rest. Nearly all of our cows that leave our herd are used for meat, but she was simply too weak.
So, it is a really sad time. Yet also a time to stand proud. Our cow, 877, produced over half of a million glasses of fantastically nutritious milk under great care from all of Ocheda Dairy’s employees, from the people who worked to grow her feed to the people who milked her all those times. I am so glad I took this photo of her last summer. We won’t ever forget our ‘legendairy’ cow.