What came first, the chicken or the egg? It’s a question as old as time, yet people still argue over the theory.
The same concept can be found in cows. With cattle, at what age do you start maximizing your efforts? What comes first? What do you find is the most important time in a cow’s life? Is it a milking cow? A calf? Or is it a never-ending cycle?
Science and experience have proven that there is not a certain time period in a cow’s life that is less important than another. Each month, and each day, is just as important as the last, even though the way we care for them in each stage may differ.
When a cow starts producing milk, it gets everyone’s attention. This is what the majority of people used to think was the most important stage of a cow’s productive life and that it warranted the most money spent. But, as time progressed, we realized that we needed to step back to the maternity pen and focus more energy on the transition of the animal from the dry period to lactation in order to maximize its potential. However, even that was not good enough.
If you were to follow an animal’s life cycle backwards and pick apart every life event she had, you would see the forecast of the future events that you had already witnessed.
When I say all the way back, I mean all the way back. It has been proven that the health and well-being of the dam can be a predictor of the calf’s health at birth and in the future.
It could be argued that the transitional period of a cow is like the Super Bowl or World Cup of both the mother and calf’s life, but it is no more important than the days prior to or those after. The intensity of care may be less in the following days, but it is no less important. It is just different.
With that being said, where do you focus your attention? What grabs your interest the most? And then ask yourself, what could I do better?
Tyler Ribeiro is a fourth-generation dairy farmer born and raised in California. He is currently partners with his father at Rib-Arrow Dairy in Tulare where they proudly ship their milk to Land O’Lakes. Tyler is actively involved in the dairy industry, holding leadership roles in various organizations locally and across the United States.