A description of Modern Day Farming Methods
When my sister and I went for lunch at a restaurant on a working farm in Yorkshire last June, we were lucky enough to be there at milking time: which was, surprisingly, 2 pm.
We had already visited the calves; see Baby Face, when heading back to the car we noticed all these cows sort of congregating in the field.
They seemed to be lining up in a particular order, as some who were already up on the path were waiting for others to go in front of them. To the right of the muddy part on the photo was a large green field. It was only churned up here where they all gathered for milking.
My sister knew this place, so led me off into a back area and up some steps to a public gallery, where we had a clear view of the whole milking process.
There were two doorways through which the cows could enter. For some reason some were still trying to get in through the middle door that did not open. The side doors opened automatically to let only one cow through at a time, when a milking ‘station’ (for want of a better word) became available.
The cow then walked along till it reached the open gate, and entered the stall. The gate automatically closed behind the cow, shoving its bum in as it did so. It was a very snug fit, as you can see from the photo.
Once inside, an automatic feed dispenser (the large red box thing in the roof area) dropped down a portion of cattle food and the cow contentedly munched away while waiting its turn to be milked.
There were two guys on the floor level between the two rows of cows. They went to each cow in turn and cleaned the udder, before attaching the milking machine.
When a cow had finished being milked the machine partly fell off, so the guys knew then to let them out of the stall. The automatic gate opened on one side when it let the cow in to the stall and opened on the other side to let them out, so the cow just walked into and out of the stall.
Some cows that entered the shed were not allowed into the stall to be milked. I assume they were either too young, or pregnant. The automatic gate closed as they approached and did not open again until they had passed by. The way the gate opened and closed gave them no opportunity to back track into the stall.
Some were quite persistent in waiting there. They wanted the cattle feed in the trough!
You will realise just how automated the whole procedure was by the number of times I’ve written the word automatic. The cows must have been wearing a computerised disc (the orange tag in the first photo) that was scanned as they approached the stall, to decide whether or not this animal would be let in to the stall.
All this is a far cry from the farm I knew as a kid. We’d visit my uncle’s farm and watch the cows milked. They all had names and walked into the same stall each time. We drank fresh, warm milk straight from milking and ate home made butter. All the farmer’s children had chores to do on the farm and had those ruddy cheeks associated with a life lived mostly outdoors. And though I wasn’t exactly a city-slicker, they put me and my siblings to shame. We never did a day’s hard labour.
Fun Cow Facts
- Cows are extremely curious and inquisitive animals which will investigate everything.
- Cows form close friendships and choose to spend much of their time with a few friends.
- Cows have almost full panoramic vision, helping them see predators.
- Cows can hold a grudge for years.
- Cows become excited when they solve problems (some even jump in the air); for example finding out how to open a door to get food.
- Cows spend 10 to 12 hours a day lying down.
- Cows have an excellent sense of smell and can detect odours up to 5 miles away.
- Cows can hear both low and high frequency sounds beyond human capability.
- Cows tend to face either magnetic north or south when grazing or resting, regardless of the sun’s position or the wind’s direction.
- Cows share 80% of our genes.