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Learn All About Dairy Farming

See the work of a dairy farmer during the spring. Learn how cows are milked, what they eat and when they are milked.


Springtime is a very busy period as dairy cows are calving. The farmer usually bucket feeds dairy calves. This allows the cow's milk to be used for milk production rather than for calf rearing. Dairy cows are usually housed all winter. Before they are allowed out to graze the fresh grass in the fields, they must be treated (to prevent illness and irritations). Dairy cows are brought to the milking parlour twice a day for milking. Pasture management is an important part of the farmer's job. He must make sure that his fields have good levels (of nutrients, enough grass etc).


Dairy cows spend their summer days grazing on fresh grass. In fact, they usually do not need any other food source. It's important that dairy cows give birth to good quality calves. Artificial insemination helps this happen. The inseminator visits the dairy farm regularly. One of the farmer's most important jobs during the summer is to make silage and hay from grass. These are important food sources for cattle during the winter months.


During early autumn, pregnant cows are scanned. This means that the vet checks to make sure her calf is healthy and growing and has no problems. Cows eat silage and hay when they are housed indoors during the winter. Sometimes, they also eat crops like barley, wheat and maize. The harvest is an important time for the farmer as he gathers all these crops. Some dairy cows calf in autumn. This means that there is milk all year round. Farmers who produce milk for drinking are called Liquid Milk Farmers. Farmers who produce milk for cheese, butter and other ingredients are called Creamery Milk Farmers.


Dairy cattle are kept indoors in houses during the cold, wet winter months. They are usually kept in cubicle sheds. In summer, the cattle can graze themselves on grass but in winter, the farmer must feed them every day. He gives them hay, grass, maize, silage and sometimes meal and makes sure that they have fresh water every day. Every day, the farmer cleans the cattle sheds. He makes sure that the cows have clean bedding to sleep and lie on.

The story of the Irish Dairy Board.