Why are your cows so skinny?!

One of our sweet cows, a few weeks after calving. (When the mama cow’s body first produces milk is when she is the skinniest)

One of our sweet cows, a few weeks after calving. (When the mama cow’s body first produces milk is when she is the skinniest)

We often get asked “Why are your cows so skinny?! Don’t you feed them anything?!” I can promise you, our girls get the highest quality hay and pasture we can offer them. There are a few things that make dairy cows different from the beef cows you’re probably used to seeing in fields (black angus, white charolais, or the brown/white faced herefords)

  1. 1. It’s hard to keep dairy cows on a pasture based system. Grasses are mostly made up of proteins, while high quality pastures are usually super high in protein. They are also low on energy. Just like a human, it’s hard to keep a cow looking plump eating only protein and skipping pasta.

  2. Dairy cows (especially jerseys, like we milk) make so much milk in the first few months of their lactations, it isn’t even possible for one calf to drink all of it. A jersey cow can easily maintain 4-5 calves by herself. Producing this much milk, reduces body fat.

  3. Dairy cows are not supposed to be “fat”. It would actually be unhealthy if a dairy cow looked like a typical beef cow like a black angus. Their health would be at serious risk and their bodies in danger of going into ketosis. That may be a buzz word in today’s culture and a state to strive for in your own diet, but it’s seriously unhealthy for dairy cows!

  4. We don’t feed grain in the amounts that conventional dairy farms do. Most dairy farms feed what is called a TMR (Total Mixed Ration) this gives the cows everything they need: Minerals, hay, grain, etc. in order to properly balance their diet completely. That being said, often times, the cows eat the TMR and nothing else. No pasture, no grass, nothing. They’re kept in the barn to eat their TMR which is designed to keep their body balanced and producing the highest amount of milk possible. The result of a TMR? Often times, (depending on the ration. If it’s too high in grain) it causes the cows’ livers to burn out and puts the delicate pH balance of the cows stomachs out of balance which can cause you to lose your entire herd of cows!
    **Did you know: The bacteria/pH in the cows rumen (one of their multiple stomachs) is what actually feeds the cow! The cow eats grass and hay which feeds the bacteria and the bacteria feeds the cow!

  5. We often hear from other farmers how healthy our cows look. This is always so comforting to hear! We like to know we’re doing a good job. Our girls’ fur is slick (smooth, not rough or patchy looking), their eyes and ears are bright, and they have good, strong appetites.

We work very hard to keep our girls healthy and happy. We don’t push them to produce the highest amount of milk possible so their bodies don’t burn out after 3-5 years. (Some of our best producers are 7+ years old and going strong!) We keep their diets as natural as possible for their own health and for yours as well! Whatever they eat, goes into the milk which is why we avoid GMOs, antibiotics and other substances that could adversely effect their health or yours.