I’ve just read this:
I actually heard of one organic producer in New England proudly promoting that his cows were soooo happy, that after milking they ran into his fields to graze. Well, animal science tells us that claim is simply not likely to be true – ask any bovine animal scientist, who will tell you the only way to get a cow to run out into a pasture is if the cow is starving, i.e., unhappy. Cows, being herd animals, are actually most contented packed together chewing their cuds or eating grains in the safe confines and shade of a feeding shed or barn. Apparently cows’ instincts keep them on alert for predators while out in the open fields causing understandable stress.
Most traditional (non-organic) dairy producers use a balanced combination of pasturing, feed lots and barns to manage their herds. Producers will spend a great deal of time adjusting these combinations along with other practices to get the most milk production from their animals. High milk production is just about the best indicator of a happy and healthy cow: Unhappy and unhealthy cows produce less milk. Organic production methods yield an average 20 to 30 percent less milk per cow than conventionally raised cows. Virtually all published academic studies on organic dairy yields characterized them as "significantly lower" than conventional production. And who has the happy cows again?
It came from the Milk is Milk Blog–I’ve linked to it before, but I’m not going to link to it today: I won’t give it any more traffic than necessary. (The litter brain won’t even allow comments).
So my first question is–has this dude ever been near a freaking cow, or on a farm? Or is he just some Big Interest Dairy Association Yahoo (Bidet for short)?
Every year our neighbor closes off their biggest field in about April. By July the Grass is high and just beginning to dry. The Hay is cut and the bales pulled off of the field. Meanwhile their meat and dairy cattle graze between 4 or 5 smaller pastures equalling more space. These pastures, however, lay such that there is no good way to hay them and are partially wooded. In mid-July the cattle are let back onto the now hayed field. The cows run–yes run onto the grass, literally kicking up their heels. And then they roam about the entire field as if greeting an old friend. They graze there day after day through the winter, migrating there through other fields they are free to graze on. I personally think they like the field because it is Heaven on Earth, overlooking a quiet bay. The point though, is they run there–and they are not starving or mis-treated by any means. They are after the fresh air, and the nutrient rich, fresh grass which the haying has stimulated. They are happy. They are HAPPY. and they have to be called in from the field for milking–they don’t want to stand around the Milking Shed all day chewing their cud, packed together. 40 -70 cows packed together is hot. Hot is not good during the spring, summer or fall. The cows enjoy an at least 500 square foot circle of space around themselves. The only way a cow needs to feel "on alert for predators" in an open field they know is if they are stressed and believe themselves to be in danger already–otherwise they would run from cars passing by. I have never seen them herd or crowed together when I took a short cut across the field, or when the dogs were chasing rabbits.
As for milk production–the reason Organic production of milk is 20-30 percent lower than "conventionally raised cows" is because they aren’t treated with the ubiquitous Growth Hormones and other crap to force them to produce more milk. Which in turn is better for the cows! Would you rather have less milk from happier cows who are more relaxed and well treated, or milk from some sort of Bovine Milk Factory running at maximum production, needing al sorts of Medicines to keep them gowing–medicines and stress which end up in your milk?
Again, I am not an expert or Bovine Scientist. But I have been around cattle, worked on farms and drink Raw Milk. I stand behind my claims and I am passionate because I care. My commments are generally backed up by my own experiences, or those of people whom I respect as having an open mind. I am not here to bash anyone, other than those who obfuscate the truth for whatever ungodly ends.