Happy Dairy

David Sparks Ph.D.

David Sparks Ph.D.

A running stream of consciousness from an Oregon dairy farmer.

I’m Bob Benson. I have an organic dairy here in Yamhill, Oregon.

We milk 200 cows. Plus the accompanying young stock. I’ve got a 500 acre farm, all pasture. Although we do harvest some hay off of it also. So it’s kind of dual purpose ground. Been shipping to Organic Valley for 15 years. Fourth generation dairymen. I’ve got a son who is the fifth generation who is working with me on the farm, got four grandsons. So hopefully that extends to sixth generation. That would be the goal. We keep our herd this size because it fits our acreage. We don’t want it so large that the cows are no longer comfortable and capable of pasturing and grazing during the grazing season. We feed no forage inside whatsoever. So 100 percent of their forage is from what they graze. The system is set and works and we will keep it that way.

The best day of the year is the day in the spring when we open the gates and let the cows go. When the weather is dried up enough and the temperature is warm enough to grow grass. We let the cows out and they go out and they do their spring dance. And it’s just their celebration of being outside and having fresh grass. And it’s a spectacular thing to watch every year. And I’ve seen it every year for my entire life. Never gets old.

Remember the old nursery rhyme The Cow Danced Over the moon? Play that clip to your local Future Farmers of America group or 4-H. And those kids will be sold on a great way of life.