It takes long days and hard work to run a dairy farm. When the result is healthy cows and quality milk, it’s all worth it.
Most people picture a Holstein when they think of a dairy cow. While they're certainly the most common, they are just one of seven common dairy cattle breeds producing milk on Ontario dairy farms.
The Ayrshire breed hails from Scotland and is a hardy breed well-suited to harsh climates. They're prized for their strength and longevity.
Originally from Britain's Channel Islands, Guernseys produce a rich milk that contains higher than average beta carotene, omega 3, calcium and A2 protein compared to most other cows' milk.
The Holstein averages a whopping 10,753 kg of milk per cow per year. This has made it a popular choice for dairy farmers, and it makes up 94% of the province's dairy cattle herd.
Originating on the Island of Jersey, one of the British Channel Islands, Jersey cattle are the second most common breed on Ontario dairy farms. They produce the highest levels of butterfat in their milk.
Switzerland's Brown Swiss may have been bred by Benedictine monks as far back as 1,000 years ago. These animals are docile and live long lives, producing high levels of protein in their milk – making it particularly well suited to cheese production.
The Milking Shorthorn is noted for its longevity and resistance to disease. They are known for a quiet temperament, and their ability to calve with little assistance.
As the name suggests, the Canadienne originated in Canada. These animals are known for their quiet nature and hardiness in the face of harsh climates.
Dairy cattle need care and attention to stay healthy, happy and productive. Here's a quick peek into an average day on the farm.
When cows are sick and require antibiotic treatment, the milk they produce is discarded for a regulated period to ensure the milk collected at the farm is free of antibiotic residue. All milk leaving the farm is then tested to verify that there is no trace of antibiotics.
Similarly, Canadian dairy farmers are committed to offering the best possible care for their animals, which means never using artificial hormones. Artificial growth hormones are illegal for use in Canada.
To protect cows, every farm is thoroughly regulated to keep bad bacteria out and maintain quality milk standards. Farmers also try to be as sustainable as possible to help protect the environment.
Dairy farms are constantly evolving as new technology becomes available to complement traditional practices. From the introduction of freestalls to the implementation of milking machines and robots – these advancements have improved resource and time management, and quality of life for our cows on an everyday basis.
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