103 Greene's Brook Rd, Berlin, NY

(518) 658-2419





A Cow's Story


Here is a story from the perspective of one of our cows.

Hi—my name is Granny. I am now 10 years old—long enough to see quite a few things change here at the farm. That’s also long enough to pack on a few pounds—I now weigh 1520 pounds! I was born at Mapledale on May 29th, 2000. Two years later I had my first calf, and started producing milk. Every year since then I have had a calf, for a total of 5 bulls (males) and 3 heifers (females). I produce milk for about 320 days each year, and then I have 45 days off—essentially I am on maternity leave until my next calf is due to arrive. So far, I have produced over 260,000 pounds of milk. That’s enough milk to fill 520,000 glasses! Here’s a little more trivia for you: people are supposed to drink 3 glasses of milk a day to get enough calcium and other nutrients to stay healthy. That means I produce enough milk for 60 people to receive their recommended nutritional needs from milk throughout the year—for each of the past 8 years!

In order to make this milk I need to eat--a lot. Right now I am eating about 105 pounds of food and drinking 300 pounds of water every day. My food is sort of like a giant tossed salad. All of the ingredients are added to the mixer wagon—I guess this would be similar to a huge salad bowl for you. The separate ingredients are placed together, and then stirred until everything is mixed together. Here are the ingredients that I am eating right now: 53 lbs. of corn silage, 23 lbs. of haycrop silage, 11 lbs. of corn meal, 9.75 lbs. of protein meal, 5 lbs. of cottonseed, and 4 lbs. of citrus pulp. The corn silage and haycrop silage are sort of the lettuce part of my salad—they provide roughage as well as a number of other nutrients I need for good health. The corn and alfalfa hay is what you see growing along Route 22—it is all chopped into pieces to be used in my giant salad. The corn meal provides the energy I need to produce milk, have another baby, as well as walk around and exercise. The protein meal is mainly made of soybeans to meet my protein needs. There are also vitamins and minerals added to this to help keep me healthy. The cottonseed provides some fat and protein for my diet to help me stay warm in the winter. And finally, the citrus pulp (the left over pulp from making orange juice) contains simple sugars that help me to digest all the roughage (lettuce) in my diet.

My giant salad is not much use to you—people just can’t digest most of the feed that is good for a cow. That’s because I have four stomachs to digest all the roughage in my diet, while you are stuck with only one stomach. But it takes extra effort for me to digest all this bulky salad. Here’s a quick history lesson. When cows were in the wild, we were not the fastest, nor the smartest of animals. Digesting roughage is not a fast process, but we would not live long back in those days if we ate slow enough to get the goodness out of our food—it takes a long time for four stomachs to do their work. So, we needed a plan. The only way we could survive attacks from predators was to run out into a grassy clearing, gulp down as much food as we possibly could, and then run back into the woods and hide. At this point, we would actually chew our food—that’s right, we’d cough our food back up in little balls called “cud” to chew it in safety, and then digest it. Well, we’re not much different now. We eat our food just as fast as we possibly can, and then go lay down. Cough it up. Chew it again. Swallow it one more time. Yum. It might sound gross to you, but it is how we are able to get the goodness out of plants that lots of other animals simply cannot eat.

What does this mean for me? I spend over 4 hours a day eating my food—the first time. I then chew my cud about 8 hours a day—believe me, if you gulped down a bunch of hay and corn as fast as you could, you’d spend a third of your day chewing it up too. Anyway, I chew 50 times a minute when I am chewing my cud. That’s 24,000 chews a day, 8.76 million a year, or 85 million chews in my lifetime. Ok, my jaw is a little tired thinking about that one. On average, well over half my day is spent eating, drinking, and chewing my cud.

Now I am going to give myself a little sales pitch. The four stomach cow (that would be me) is quite resourceful in parts of the country such as the Taconic Valley where the climate and most of the land is well suited for growing corn and alfalfa for cows, but is not well suited to growing large quantities of grain and vegetables for people. I can take what grows well locally in large quantities, and make it into something useful and nutritious for people. (I do what I can for my job security.) If you would like to visit me here at Mapledale, or would like to take a tour of the farm, just call the farm ahead of time. You can reach us at 658-2419.