CQP-certified dairy farmers depend on healthy cows for their livelihoods. Dairy herds are provided with a nutritious diet, regular medical care and comfortable and clean living conditions. A cow’s health is of the utmost importance to dairy farmers, because dairy cows must be well-cared-for in order to produce high quality, wholesome milk. Animal care practices on Massachusetts dairy farms include:
Food & Shelter:
CQP-certified dairy farmers employ professional nutritionists to develop a scientifically formulated, balanced and nutritious diet for their cows. Diets include hay, grains, protein sources, and a balance of essential vitamins and minerals.
Dairy cows have access to feed as well as fresh, clean water every day. Many dairy farms use "free-stall housing," which is a type of barn that allows cows to eat, drink and sleep whenever and wherever they choose. These barns also provide shade and protection from the elements. Inside these barns, farmers provide comfortable bedding for the cows in the form of sand, wood chips, recycled shredded rubber or mattresses.
Health and Medical Attention:
CQP-certified dairy cows receive regular veterinary care, including periodic check-ups, preventative vaccinations, and prompt treatment of illness. A cow that is being treated with antibiotics is separated from the milking herd and placed in a separate area so her milk does not enter the food supply. She is not put back into the milking herd until the antibiotics have cleared her system.
Dairy is one of the most regulated and inspected industries in agriculture.
Cow Comfort & Safety:
Some dairy farmers crop or switch trim the tails of their animals to promote cleanliness, similar to what people do to some breeds of dogs. Dehorning of non-developed horn buds is a practice used to help reduce the risk of injury to cows and animal handlers. Dehorning is performed at an early age, a fairly simple procedure that doesn't require anesthesia.
On a daily basis, cows move on their own from their stalls to the fields as well as to and from the milking parlor.