Dec. 5 2018 01:40 PM

Let’s share information online, not berate each other.

Everyone bottle-feeds calves, right? The amount of milk and the length of time differs, but most farmers feed their calves with bottles. A while ago, someone made a post in a dairy farmer Facebook group wondering what kind of bottles people used and how often they replaced the nipples.

It seemed innocent enough, so I commented the specific brand we use and noted that I’m not afraid of a slightly bigger hole for newborns because they tire quickly. You’d have thought I had admitted that I was beating puppies.

I was immediately called stupid and told that my calves were obviously aspirating daily because I wasn’t replacing their nipples often enough. The thread continued to speculate how much milk our cows must be losing because we obviously treated so many of them for pneumonia as calves.

I couldn’t believe it. I was seriously being attacked for something as simple as what bottles I use to feed my calves? Since then, I have developed a thicker skin, but what’s sad is that I’ve just stopped commenting, which means the trolls have won.

Yeah, I called them trolls. When we use the now-popular internet phrase, we usually think of the hateful vegans that troll pro-agricultural sites or pages, but guess what? Farmer trolls exist, too.

They’re those people who comment on every thread but never seem to have anything helpful to say. Stirring the pot every once in a while is one thing, but every day? On every post? Whatever happened to, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all?”

Probably a dozen times a day I scroll through my social media, look at a post and think, “Was that really worth posting?” Then, I keep on scrolling. Because not only is it a waste of my time to type something out, leaving a discouraging or rude comment on someone else’s post doesn’t do me or them any good.

This is my last blog post of the year. I thought about being super inspirational or sentimental, saying something like, “I hope that we’ll all be here for the end of next year.”

But, honestly, I’d rather leave you with this: We’re all fighting battles. Some of us do it publicly and others struggle privately. The bottom line is that you don’t need to be a jerk to make your opinions heard. For me personally, if I only get 30 seconds to interact with someone in person or online, I’d rather leave them with a good impression than a bad one. Besides, who really cares what kind of bottles you use as long as your calves get fed?

Happy Holidays, friends!

Jessica Peters

The author dairies in partnership with her parents and brother at Spruce Row Farm in Pennsylvania. Jessica is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University, and since 2015, she has been active in promoting dairy in her local community. You can find her and her 250 Jersey cows on Facebook at Spruce Row Dairy or on Instagram at @seejessfarm.

Bill Weiss

Join us on December 10, 2018 for our next webinar:
"Cutting feed costs without cutting milk"
presented by Bill Weiss, The Ohio State University

Sponsored by QLF

It is easy to cut feed costs, but it’s harder to cut costs without sacrificing milk production. This webinar will discuss controlling expenses by selecting cost-effective ingredients, grouping cows correctly, and formulating diets to provide adequate nutrients without over-formulating the ration. Register here for all webinars.