Frequently Asked Questions

Interacting with people on my blog and hosting visitors at our dairy farm has provided opportunities for many conversations about what we do on our farm. There are some questions that come up over and over again, so I decided to add an “FAQ” page to my blog. I hope this page is helpful for those of you looking for information about a specific topic.

Is your farm a family farm or factory farm?
Almost every farm in the U.S. is owned and operated by a family. In fact, 98% of U.S. dairy farms are family owned. The terms “factory farm”, “corporate farm” or “industrial farm” were invented by movie producers, authors and organizations with the goal to portray larger farms as negligent, faceless machines that don’t care about animals or the environment. Nothing is further from the truth. Our farm is large by some standards and small by others. There is a need for farms of all sizes and we should celebrate this diversity.

Blogs I’ve written about the generations of dairy producers in our family:
My Marlboro Man. . .Lad Hastings   
The Evolution of Dairy Farming
Celebrating my Father, Tony Souza’s 70th Birthday
My Husband the Dairyman
Visiting Grandpa’s California Dairy
The Future of Our Herd: Calves and Boys
The Legacy of Duane Hastings
Generations of Dairy Farmers
Family Farm Not Factory Farm
Fun on the Farm

Why do your cows live in barns?
Our cows spend their days in comfortable freestall barns with individual beds, fans to keep them cool, fresh water to drink and nutritious food to eat. They can move about to eat, drink, rest and socialize whenever they like. They are healthy, comfortable and content in this environment which was created especially to meet their needs.

Blogs I’ve written on why barns are beneficial for our cows:
Why Do Cows Live in Barns?
Cool Cows Are Comfortable Cows

How do I know your cows are treated humanely?
Cow comfort, health and well-being are the main priorities on our farm. Everything we do is centered on providing our animals with outstanding care and we strive to make improvements that will enhance our cow’s lifestyle. We work daily to make sure our cows are eating the best food, drinking clean, fresh water, and have a clean, dry and comfortable place to relax. We respect our cows and believe they deserve outstanding care.

Blogs I’ve written on how we care for our cows: 
Farm Animal Treatment & the See It? Stop It! Program
Is Farm Animal Cruelty Common?
A Day in the Life of a Cow
Checking Out The Ladies
Dairy Farmers Care for their Cows Like You Care for Your Pets

What do your cows eat? Isn’t it best to feed them only grass?
We work with a dairy nutritionist to create a balanced diet for our heifers and cows. Feed recipes are based on the animal’s nutrient requirements for their particular stage of life. The recipes include a variety of forages, grains, and nutrients specifically created for our animals.

Blogs I’ve written on what our cows eat and drink:
Fall Harvest is Complete
Combining and Grinding Gold
Harvesting Corn Silage for our Cows
Grass for our Cows
Dairy Diet – What do Cows Eat?
Dairy Diet – Part 2
Cows are Thirsty Enough to Drink a Bathtub Full of Water Everyday!
The Story of our Corn Silage

How do you care for and house calves? What happens to the male (bull) and female (heifer) calves?
Calves are born on our farm every day. The heifer calves are raised to become the future of our milking herd. The bull calves are sold at the local livestock auction where they are purchased by someone who will most likely raise them for beef production. Our heifer calves spend the first 2½ to 3 months in an individual hutch where they receive personal attention and their own food and drink. The hutches are filled with clean, dry straw to keep each calf comfortable and healthy.  

Blogs I’ve written about how we care for our calves:
Why are calves separated from their mothers?
Growing Up on Our Farm – Calf to Heifer to Milk Cow
Newborn Calf and Fresh Cow Care
Twins Are Born!

Are you an organic dairy? Are organic dairy products better for my family?
We are a traditional dairy farm. Organic refers to the production method, not the end product. In terms of quality, safety and nutrition, there’s no difference. Production and management methods differ from dairy to dairy, whether traditional or organic, but the final product on the store shelf is the same. All milk contains the same combination of nutrients that make dairy foods an important part of a healthy diet.  

Blogs I’ve written on organic and traditional milk:
Top 5 Reasons Starbucks and other Restaurants should Embrace Traditional Dairy
Organic Milk Shortage? Try Traditional Milk
Milk is Milk – The Comparison
What’s the Difference Between Traditional “Regular” Milk and Organic Milk?

Should I be concerned about antibiotics and hormones in cow’s milk?
ALL milk is tested for antibiotic residue and dumped if it tests positive so you can be sure no milk in the grocery store contains antibiotics. Naturally occurring hormones are present in many foods, including milk. All milk, organic, rBST-free and traditional, contains the same small quantity of hormones that are digested in the human body as protein.  

Blogs I’ve written on antibiotics and hormones in milk:
Testing to Ensure there are No Antibiotic Residues in Milk
Is Milk Safe? How do I Know it's Free of Antibiotics?
Testing Milk for Antibiotics & Somatic Cell Count
Where Can I Buy Milk From Your Cows?
Are There Hormones In My Milk?
The Truth about Antibiotic Use

How do I know I’m getting quality and safe milk in the grocery store?
Milk and dairy products are among the most highly regulated foods in this country. Many safeguards are in place from farm to processor to retail to ensure the dairy products you purchase in the store are safe, quality products. We are proud to produce a nutritious product your family enjoys!

Blogs I’ve written about milk quality:
Want to Support Dairy Farmers? Buy Dairy Products!
Quality Milk Starts at the Farm
Milk’s Journey from Cow to Table
The Milk Inspector is Coming 

Testing Milk
Healthy Cows = Quality Milk
Is there Pus in Milk?

Are dairy farms and cows bad for the environment?
We care about the environment and are constantly making improvements that decrease our carbon footprint. Production efficiencies, cow nutrition, cow comfort, technology, genetics and other improvements have enabled dairy farmers to reduce the environmental impact of a gallon of milk. To produce a gallon of milk today, we utilize 90% less cropland, produce 76% less manure, use 65% less water, and reduced our carbon footprint by 63% since the 1940’s. The entire dairy food chain, from feed production to on-farm emissions to emissions associated with milk processing, packaging and transportation to retailers, accounts for less than 3% of the green house gas emissions.

Blogs I’ve written about environmental stewardship:
Cows & Farmers are Marvelous Recyclers
Every Day is Earth Day on a Dairy
Stanford Study Shows Benefits of Modern Agriculture
Dairy Farmers – The Original Environmentalists

Does your farm practice sustainable agriculture?
Sustainability is a term that has been used in agriculture for many years and seems to have several definitions. To me sustainability means supporting the long-term viability of our farm by responsible land management, careful use of natural resources, and remaining economically viable with the goal of preserving our family farm for generations.

Blogs I’ve written about sustainability:
Sustainable Farms = Sustainable Food Supply
The Dreaded “P” Word – Profitability

I’ve seen movies, talk shows and read books about how industrial agriculture and current food systems are contributing to unhealthy people, are these accurate?
Movies like Food, Inc. are opinion based dramas aimed at scaring consumers. They play on emotions in an attempt to make you feel guilty for purchasing and consuming conventionally grown food. Please don’t let these be your only source of information about food and agriculture. The people writing these dramas have little to no experience with animal agriculture, food production or public health.

Blogs I’ve written about the facts and myths of agriculture in movies and media:
Farmland: The Movie
The Manure is deep in Farmed and Dangerous
Mom Blogger asks "Dr. Oz - Where's the Farmer?
Food, Inc. or Black Sheep?
Forks Over Knives Claims Eat Vegan or Die
Hey Oprah – You Don’t Have to go Vegan to be Healthy and Compassionate
Food Day – Celebration of Food or Assault on Modern Agriculture?
American Farming Perceptions & Facts

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