It all starts with their calves and a special pen that’s just for them. The pen has curtains that the Kelsays can raise or lower for proper airflow and control the temperature; calves also eat whenever they like thanks to an automatic calf feeder.
“Once calves are born, we get to care for them,” said Amy. “We give them the best care possible right from the start,” said Joe.
When calves are born, they receive an ear tag that helps the Kelsays identify each calf. But it’s so much more than that. The tag interfaces with the automatic feeder in the pen, which tracks when and how much each calf eats. It’s just one way technology helps the Kelsays keep track of each calf’s health.
When the calves get older they “graduate” from drinking milk to eating other types of feed. While the ingredients in their feed can change depend on the season, on the Kelsays’ dairy it usually includes ground corn, soybean meal, vitamins and minerals.
“Cows are magical in how they can take different food sources and make milk,” said Joe.
On some farms, cows lay on sand or other materials in their barns. On the Kelsays’ dairy, cows sleep on water beds, like the one above.
Each cow also sports a pedometer on one of her hind ankles. Similar to the ear tag, the pedometers help the Kelsays track how many steps each cow takes -- which can help them figure out if she’s not feeling well. The pedometers also help track how much milk each cow gives.
“The pedometers allow us to do our jobs even better,” Amy said.
When the weather takes a turn for the worst, the Kelsay family unrolls plastic curtains that surround their barns. These curtains protect their cows from the wind and bad weather.
At the end of the day, the Kelsay family prioritizes their cows over everything else – even Thanksgiving dinner one year. That year, as the family had just made up their plates and prepared to dig in, they noticed a cow looking in the window. Without a word, the family left the table and rounded up the loose cows.
“Our cows take priority over everything,” Amy said.
Learn more at The Udder Truth.