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Calf Care – Why it is my passion

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Raising calves on an organic dairy farm in Western Washington is challenging.  We have been certified organic since 2006.  It has been a total reeducation raising calves.  We did a great job raising calves when we were conventional, but we had so many tools at our fingertips to help us care for calves who became sick.  When we transitioned to organic, we quickly realized things were different. We quickly learned that prevention is the “Key”!!  You know that product “Airborne”??  The commercials recommend taking it before a trip on a plane because it will help you to prevent getting sick.  Well, we needed to adopt that similar philosophy but on a daily basis.  The keys to raising healthy organic dairy calves are simple.

1.  Environment – clean and dry bedding and good ventilation

2.  Vaccinations – Vaccinations help to prevent disease so get a good schedule and stick to it!!

3.  Colostrum – The first 2 feedings should be 2 bottles of good quality Colostrum.  No questions, no excuses.

It is pretty simple but like everyone, I get busy and short cut steps.  When this does happen, I quickly begin to experience problems.  But if I get back to these simple steps, I get quickly back on track.  I am so excited to raise my calves in my new calf barn we have been busy building of the last year.  Check out the amazing pictures.  The amazing Calf Tel pens, group pens, flush system, and curtains.  It is going to be a great place to raise organic dairy calves in the future.

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Group Pens – Each pen has 5-6 calves

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20 Calf Tel Pens

The doors we uses to move in and out with tractors.

The curtains move up and down. It allows control of the air flow through the barn.

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The doors roll up and allow our large loader tractors in and out easily.

The Year of the Family Farm

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The headline of the article was “The UN has declared 2014 the year of the Family Farm”.  Kind of exciting to see this kind of publicity or recognition for a farmer.  Our family farm is a 3rd or 4th generation dairy (depends on who is answering the question).  My husband and I operate an organic dairy in partnership with my in-laws.  They started the dairy over 40 years ago in Enumclaw, Washington.  Many things have changed over the years but one thing is constant.  A family farm represents a piece of history.  Fewer and fewer families are farming, but the ones that remain have struggled through some pretty difficult circumstances. (Just ask your local politician why there has not been a renewal of the Farm Bill?)

As we begin 2014, remember to say thank you to those friends you know that run a family farm.  It is not the easiest way to make a living or raise a family.  Holidays, birthdays, and vacations always seem to take a “backseat” to the farm.  In the end it is the farm that keeps many family members connected.  In this era of cell phones, youtube, and instragram it is a nice break to feed a new born calf or chase some heifers that busted through your neighbor’s fence.  Brings you back to what is important – hard work and perseverance.  Qualities we all need to cherish in this crazy overstimulated world we have created.  Image

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