Organic Dairy Cows Don’t Suffer

When our farm went organic, we always joked that organic solutions to treating sick animals was just “foo foo fairy dust.” How could garlic tincture, aloe vera, peppermint cream and kelp pellets really work? If they worked, why wasn’t everyone else using them? Mainstream drugs must have been created because the natural solutions didn’t work. Our thought was, we will give the natural solutions a try, but we weren’t going to throw the antibiotics out (just in case).

We have learned through experience that these natural solutions do work. There has been a lot of advancement in both understanding and usage of natural remedies in recent years. Most of the natural solutions we use are plant based. Plants are complex organisms and for centuries scientists have been working to understand how they can be used to promote health in both animals and humans.

The first step to successfully using natural care products is to have your house in order . We strive to provide our animals with a healthy living environment (lots of fresh air, lots of exercise and a largely forage based diet). Organic farmers also need to make sure the health of their soil (which translates into mineral rich forages for feed) is in top shape.

We are very lucky to be farmer owners of Organic Valley (OV). This is because OV has a two amazing veterinarians that work with farmers to help with the steep learning curve of transitioning to organic. They also keep up on the latest research in natural based health solutions for livestock. Dr. Paul and Dr. Guy provide one on one consultations, workshops and also conduct research in the their field that no one in the conventional realm is currently doing.

A misconception that many farmers have about organic farming is that we allow our animals to suffer if they are sick. Tim and I recently watched “No Impact Man” and we both cringed when the dairy farmer stated that he wouldn’t go organic because he didn’t want his animals to suffer. No offense to this farmer, but this is very far from the truth. The truth is when an animal gets sick on our farm, we first try to cure them using natural solutions. 95% of the time, a little rest, close personal attention and a few natural remedies does the trick. The other 5% of the time, we will treat the animal with an antibiotic. Once an animal is treated with an antibiotic, she must be sold. If she is a milking cow she is milked into a separate bucket and her milk is dumped. We are fortunate to know many good dairy farmers who are always looking for quality cattle. We know these farmers well and are confident our cows are going to happy homes.

Because our “house” is in order. Our cows are in great health.  We rarely have an animal that is untreatable with natural remedies. In fact, we have very few animals that get sick to start with and that’s the key, prevention.

The health of our animals is our top priority. We care deeply for them. If we ever think that the organic certification would jeopardize our ability to provide the utmost care of our animals, we would not participate in the certification. If you ever have questions on how we care for our animals please let us know by giving us a call or sending us an email.




Filed under dairy, Organic Valley

3 responses to “Organic Dairy Cows Don’t Suffer

  1. I really enjoy reading this one. Natural solutions do work. Maybe it takes a bit longer time to cure but i think in the long run, it is better.

  2. Good post Emily! I think even conventional dairy farmers like ourselves are trying more “natural” sollutions, instead of antibiotics first, mainly due to cost of treatment and lost milk production. As on your farm, we also focus on PREVENTION first….happy cows are productive cows =)

    • zweberfarms

      Thank you Shannon for the comment. You are right many dairy farmers do not go to antibiotics as their first line of defense. I also want to make note, that no matter if you buy conventional milk or organic, there will be no antibiotics in the milk. Even conventional farmers must dump milk produced by cows that have been given antibiotics for a withdrawal period.

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