The dairy cows in the cattle yard at Maungaraeeda, PRI Sunshine Coast

Early morning cow routines

Early morning cow routines

Every morning the first thing we do is look after our animals. The cow routines are particularly involved. The cows stay in the cattle yard overnight, and in the morning their manure is collected for the biodigester (to make biogas). It is shovelled into several buckets, to make up the 30kg we need every day. The cows are then fed and the milkers are milked. After eating and being milked, they are checked for ticks. It is a better job than it sounds, as it is lovely running your hands all over the cows and it actually forms a nice bond with the animals. After ticking the cows are taken to the paddock of the day. As we do rotational grazing the paddock changes every 2-3 days. This means that a new electric fence needs to be put up every few days as well. The cows are often hand led to their paddocks. Because we handle them every day they are very docile and well behaved.

Cow manure for the biodigester at Maungaraeeda, PRI Sunshine Coast
Buckets filled with cow manure to make biogas in the biodigester

The cow manure in the buckets is weighed and the correct amount is taken to the biodigester area. It is mixed bit by bit and added to the biodigester while cleaning the buckets and tools at the same time. The cows’ water trough is filled when all the manure is processed and the area gets washed down. If there is biodigester overflow this runs out into a holding tank.

Every week the holding tank is emptied into the BDCC (Bio Digester Chicken Compost), where the chooks process it further. Every weekday there is another composted pile that needs moving in the BDCC. We have a schedule worked out so every day a pile is moved and then on Mondays the biodigester overflow is emptied. When everything is tidied up at the biodigester in the morning, we (at the moment) let the calf out into the resource paddock, where it stays until noon. At noon the calf gets taken up to join the other cows in the paddock.

Milk from the dairy cows, Permaculture Research Institute Sunshine Coast
This morning’s produce!

It is a reasonably long process every morning, but very enjoyable. The connection you get by handling the animals every day is wonderful. Cows are lovely animals and very multi functional! And like any animal, of course they love and thrive with their routine. Because they know what happens every day, they are content and placid, and experience very little stress. And then of course they end up in beautiful lush paddocks for the whole day, which also gives us lots of milk and huge amounts of cream! We now get around 50 litres of milk per week, and separate around 4 litres of cream from that. The cream is very high in fat content, as when we process it into butter we get very little buttermilk. It all makes the time spent with the cows very worthwhile!

©2016 Zaia;, incorporating Permaculture Research Institute Sunshine Coast, simplicity, permaculture, self reliance, self sufficiency, sustainability, food, health and homesteading, early morning cow routines

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