What Does A Mega-Industrial Dairy Farm Look Like?

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This is an interesting video of a modern mega-dairy farm, with "all" aspects visible to the public (well, I'll bet not all aspects are visible, since they don't show how sperm is collected, packaged and stored, nor do they show the process of artificial insemination). Visitors get a close up and personal view of the entire process, from the milking barns where they observe cows being milked and fed, and they even can witness live births. This mega-farm also recycles manure into methane that they use to power the operation. Interesting, but I'll stick with rice milk. [5:02]

A few things they don't show you include (1) how long those Holstein cows are kept around? A few years, I'd bet (2) how are those cows then slaughtered after their productivity dips? (3) what happens to their calves, especially the young male calves? I'll bet they are fed into the veal industry within three days ..

More like this

1. depends, as long as the cow gives milk, it stays alive, can be four, can be 13.
2. Yes, they are sent to the butcher.
3. Yes, the young bulls are sent to fatten up and then sent to the slaughterhouse.

(1) 13 years is rare. Most dairy cows are slaughtered around (or before) age 6.

By Pinkunicorns46 (not verified) on 12 Jun 2009 #permalink

There is a Dirty Jobs episode on a similar (if not same) large dairy farm. Insemination is shown, along with cow births, the methane tanks, the milking-go-round, etc. There are over 30,000 cows on the farm in the show. FYI. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=65NqI0dLHlg

I give Fair Oaks credit: they got their act down. Everything in that video suggests incredible efficiency and marketing brilliance (like the "ecology, animal welfare, health" trifecta he hits at the end).

Of course, stepping back, all the usual ecological, ethical, and health questions are still there. That places has to add a lot of carbon to the air at every step in the process. And the ethics issues the blogger brought up, etc...

This is a huge dairy farm. I've never seen a milking parlor with so many cows. Does it process and sell milk directly to supermarkets or to milk coaps that sell milk to the milk Coops. The milk monopoly drives milk prices up. But milk prices do not mean anything to me. I drink soy milk. I've done it for several years. I've visited small farms and milked their cows by hand.

By Satish Bhardwaj (not verified) on 01 Jul 2009 #permalink

I'm a U.S. Citizen. But I was born in India. India is a poor country. I've seen videos of sick cows being milked and sold to people with children. If I could get one million Dollars ($1,000,000) worth of donations I'll set up a dairy farm like this in India for selling milk of healthy cows to people with children. Ideally I'd like that the milk be given away to these people without taking any money from them. But how would the dairy pay for its expenses like for feeding the cows, for paying for utilities and for pay the the expenses for vets. Besides India is a poor country. It can't afford to have milking operation like in USA and Europe. The cows will have to be hand milked by people who'd otherwise not have any jobs. But the milk could be sold at reduced rates to people with limited incomes or to people who work at the dairy. But I've no contact with people with deep pockets or with big companies to solicit them for donations. When I see big dairy farms like this I begin to think of how the cows' milk can be made available to poor people in India at affordable prices.