As the sun is barely rising above the horizon, we gather the cows from the pasture and lead them through a interconnected maze of lanes back to the barn for milking.
Due to the need for quality pasture, we sometimes split off the dairy animals from the main herd of beef cows and calves and give them access to the juiciest, most palatable pasture. It also makes it easier to make sure the only cows that enter the barn are the ones needed for milking.
Each cow responds differently, so some mornings it takes a skilled hand and watchful eye to keep them motivated to meander back to the barn. Family traits carry through with cattle just as they do with people, so the slowpoke cows tend to have slowpoke calves and that means some may take additional motivation to make it home to the barn in a timely way.
It’s funny, sometimes the days when we feel tired or stiff from a restless night, the cows also show a similar attitude toward getting going in the morning. We often wonder if it has to due with barometric pressure changes affecting both the cows and us.
Once the cows have arrived at the barn, they’ll bed down or munch their cud while they stand waiting their turn. Typically we try to milk the young cows first, and the older cows last since they usually prefer to stick to a routine. When one cow comes out of order, it can cause confusion in the rest since they can’t remember if they’ve been through the line already.