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Social media misconceptions: My thoughts on a viral post

Amy Engberson for Progressive Dairyman Published on 31 March 2016

The other day I saw a crazy post on my Facebook page that immediately grabbed my attention. The post had a picture of two ladies protesting milk while standing in front of the milk cooler at the grocery store Trader Joe’s.

One of the women was holding a sign with a picture of a cow and had the words, “I want to live.” The other woman was holding a sign that said, “It’s not food; it’s violence.” I had to read the signs a few times just to make sure I got it right. Do these two women really believe that harvesting milk is harmful to cows?

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I figured my friends would like to see how absurd these two women’s opinions are, and so I shared the post on my page too. With the post I wrote, “This is ridiculous! Female mammals produce milk after giving birth to their baby. It is a very natural process.

We would be out of business if cows died during, or after, the milk harvesting process. As dairy farmers, we are very concerned about the health and well-being of our animals and do everything possible to ensure they stay healthy.

Americans need to become more educated on where their food comes from.” I was trying to make a statement that would educate without being argumentative.

Well, I ended up getting several irrational comments from people who aren’t even my friends on Facebook. Apparently they have nothing better to do with their time than search for Facebook posts written by people who like drinking milk. Maybe they have a little extra time on their hands because they aren’t out trying to take care of cows.

Besides that, I can’t imagine going to someone else’s page to rudely tell them what they believe is wrong. Who does that? My best guess is: They are people who don’t have jobs, who aren’t contributing to society and people who want to use my hard-earned tax money to buy soy milk. That’s who.

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I bet these are the same people who think that showing a picture of a fully developed baby in a woman’s womb is “humanizing” a fetus. Humanizing a fetus? A fetus is a human, a little tiny human with so much opportunity ahead of them.

So let me get this right: These people think we shouldn’t harvest milk from a cow because it will kill her, which obviously isn’t true. But they support abortion because they believe in women’s ability to choose.

How can they think it’s OK to call a precious fetus a choice and buying milk at the grocery store inhumane? These crazy people should educate themselves on more than just where their food comes from but also on where life comes from.

If only these people could understand how much farmers care about their animals; after all, that is how we make our living. On our farm, we believe that if we take care of the cows, they will take care of us.

Contrary to what these uninformed ladies think, farmers spend all of their days, and half of their nights, making sure their cows are healthy and strong. They don’t realize that when a cow is giving birth to a baby, she needs help sometimes.

And farmers are there to help her. They don’t understand that we spend insane amounts of money to ensure our cows get a proper ration that will help them be healthy and strong. We even hire someone to clip their toes. When they do get sick, we help them get better. We change their bedding every day. Seriously, I feel like a rock star if I change my kids’ sheets once a week.

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One person even commented on my Facebook post and admitted that harvesting milk from cows probably wouldn’t hurt them. The real concern is that inconsiderate humans remove the mother’s baby calf from her at birth, harvest her milk and sell it for human consumption. The commenter went on to suggest that I should educate myself on what cows are like.

Hello! I have about 1,500 cows outside my back door. Every day about six baby calves are born 200 yards from my kitchen window. I happen to know what a mama cow giving birth to a baby looks like, and I know how valuable that baby calf is.

I’ve been late to church, had my husband miss a date night and miss one of the kids’ basketball games more times than I can count. Why? Because we were out helping a mama cow deliver her baby calf.

On cold nights, I’ve had baby calves wrapped in a blanket in my laundry room. I understand how much time and money we put into making sure that calf is raised properly. I’ve also seen lots of baby calves be rescued from their moms.

The reality is that some mama cows aren’t motherly, not at all. In fact, some mama cows try to kick a baby calf who is trying to suckle or, even worse, try to trample their baby. Farmers understand that one day these babies will be their mama cows.

If those two protesting women are so concerned about the welfare of cattle, maybe they should buy a few, put them in their backyards, pay the feed bill, make sure they don’t get sick, doctor them without medicine when they do get sick, breed them and let the mama cows take care of their calves.

It would be such a beautiful picture – until they realized that taking care of a cow is an extremely time-consuming and an insanely expensive (not to mention stinky) hobby, especially if they aren’t going to make any revenue from selling the milk.  PD

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