Archive for Dairy Carrie

Hey PETA – You Don’t Know Jack!

Someone who does not work with animals on a daily basis may think that PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) champions a very worthy cause in defending animal rights.  The challenge is that the noble cause PETA started from, and the entity that it is today have grown a long ways apart.  Recently PETA has received a significant amount of publicity in regards to its unacceptable behavior.

One might forgive, or at least understand, PETA’s conduct in regard to Gillette Emperor Smurf EX-91, who won a Guinness World Record for Lifetime Milk Production achievement. Unfortunately, instead of talking from a position of fact or knowledge, they just pulled stuff out of their butts and leveled accusations at people who love animals with the same venom they use on people they charge with mistreating and exploiting dairy cattle. (Read more:  What PETA Does NOT KNOW about Raising Dairy Cattle!)

This reminds me of a movie my children like to watch called BEE Movie.  In it when  the bee, Barry B. Benson, graduates from college, he finds that he will have only one job for his entire life and, absolutely disappointed, he joins the team responsible for bringing the honey and pollination of the flowers to visit the world outside the hive. Once in Manhattan, he is saved by the florist Vanessa, and he breaks the bee law to thank Vanessa. They become friends, and Barry discovers that humans exploit bees to sell the honey they produce. Barry decides to sue the human race for having destructive consequences to nature.  Sure he wins the court case, which I am sure many PETA followers got excited about, but as a result of humans no longer being able to produce and eat honey, all the bees are not needed.  Eventually, they all stop working and, as a result; flowers are not pollinated; plants aren’t able to grow, and ultimately animals have nothing to eat, and humans and the whole ecosystem are devastated.   At the end of the movie, they show a dairy cow explaining her “beefs” to the bee Barry B Benson.  I am sure this also gave many PETA follows many incorrect ideas.

More recently PETA released a new video showing less-than-ideal situations on a Hickory, N.C., farm. The video shows cows slogging through incredibly thick manure. Their legs are dirty, and the amount of manure in the barn is unbelievable. The challenge is the video appears to be in fact a hoax and not an accurate depiction of the actual conditions or events at the Hickory dairy.   Carrie Mess, in a post on her website, Mess took still screenshots of the video, showing relatively clean cows walking through a very full (in terms of manure) manure alley in a free stall barn. While Carrie admits that she does not know the exact story about this specific Hickory dairy, there are certainly many inaccurate accounts and analysis by PETA about his particular farm.  PETA found her actions so “threatening” that they have served Carrie with a cease and desist letter, demanding a public apology and retraction of her article.  Something they are never willing to do themselves for their actions.  This fits with PETA`s formula. They find a farm with bad conditions or fabricate these conditions, link them to regional or national name brand, and get everyone talking about it, and then never being accountable for their actions.  Because of that, dairy farmers like Dairy Carrie get an undeserved black eye and now have a huge hill to climb to get the correct information out.


It is interesting that PETA tactics have been able to continue for so long.  Despite themselves having been connected with the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), an FBI-designated “domestic terrorist“ group. PETA`s support of the ALF appears to include financing the legal defense of arrested ALF activists, providing resources to individual ALF cells, recruiting interns for the sole purpose of committing criminal acts at protests, and publicizing ALF activities in a favorable manner. One witness interviewed by the FBI (whom other sources have indicated was a former long-term PETA employee) made statements suggesting that PETA was formed as a cover for the Animal Liberation Front (ALF).  These are not the actions of a group whose number one concern is the ethical treatment of animals.

In fact the PETA, which claims to be dedicated to the cause of animal rights, can’t explain why its adoption rate is only 2.5 percent for dogs. Out of 760 dogs impounded in 2011, they killed 713, arranged for 19 to be adopted, and farmed out 36 to other shelters (not necessarily “no kill” ones). As for cats, they impounded 1,211, euthanized 1,198, transferred eight, and found homes for a grand total of five. PETA also took in 58 other companion animals — including rabbits. It killed 54 of them. These figures don’t reflect well on an organization dedicated to the cause of animal rights and possess a $30 million annual budget.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

While certainly not all dairy operations treat their cattle like they are at a spa (read more Westcoast), the vast majority do care for their animals responsibly. Good care is good commerce. Stress-free, healthy cows produce more milk and deliver more progeny over their lifetimes.  Just like at well-run company where they treat their employees well, dairy farmers know that how they treat their cattle has a direct impact on their bottom line. The challenge with organizations like PETA is that they sensationalize the story to elicit a strong reaction from their supporters in order to gain more support and funding.  The challenge with this is the tactics they are using are extremely questionable and hurt dairy farmers, who love their animals as much or more than PETA supporters do.  Do they ever take the same effort to highlight examples of the best treatment of animals?  Instead of working to understand the complete story, and working with producers to ensure proper treatment of animals, PETA looks to discredit the dairy industry with nothing more than lies, mistruths and inaccurate stories.  Ethical treatment is a label we all need to live up to.  Otherwise, PETA — you don’t know Jack!




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Happy Cows Don’t Make Headlines

Two weeks ago, another “undercover” video from an animal rights group rocked the dairy world and gave the dairy industry yet another black eye.  (Read more: Dairy Cattle Abuse Video – A black eye for the dairy industry).  While tens of thousands of people across North America, and for that matter around the world, have now seen this brutal video, the fact is that most of them assume that the actions that occur on this video take place on all dairy farms on a daily basis.  Those of us that work in the dairy industry know this is not the case at all.  However, since Happy Cows Don’t Make Headlines, the general public is only exposed to the negative side of the dairy industry rather than the positive.

In the media business there is no question that if you can touch an emotion, whether it be positive or negative, you certainly can get attention and gain readership.  Anyone watching this horrifying video would be hard pressed not to get emotional when seeing   the abuses that occur.  As a result, the mainstream media has been very quick to jump on this story and continues to pound the dairy industry with their negative coverage.

Even we here at the Bullvine are guilty of exposing this story.  Some breeders commented to us that we should not cover this story.  Unlike other dairy publications, we have learned that burying your head in the sand is not the way to bring about change.  Instead, you need to be 100% transparent and address the problem head on.  We as an industry cannot hope that this story will “quietly go away.”  That is not going to happen.  Moreover, we need to stand up for ourselves and share the positive instead of hiding from the negative.

It’s at times like this when we all need to be strong dairy advocates and make sure that the general public actually knows the truth of what goes on in the dairy industry.  A great example of this is provided by Jerry Jorgensen from Ri-Val-Re Holsteins.  Jerry was disgusted by what he had seen in the video and certainly expressed his comments on social media.  However, he also took the time to produce a video that showed the public what actually happens on most dairy farms.

Jorgensen’s video provides an excellent explanation of how most dairy cattle are cared for.  Jerry applied his unique sense of humor to the video.  The challenge is that, while those in the dairy industry applauded the video and appreciated Jerry’s efforts, the video was viewed on YouTube by 4,000 people.  This is just a fraction of the over 140,000 people that viewed the Mercy for Animals video from Chilliwack Cattle Sales.

Carrie Mess (aka Dairy Carrie) a strong dairy advocate and very active social media personality (Read more: Dairy Carrie – Diary of a City Kid Gone Country) says the social media comments spurred by the Mercy for Animals video have been frustrating.

“The group that is responsible for this video has an agenda.  That agenda is… they advocate for a vegan diet.  They don’t like animal agriculture.  So when they release a video like this and try to paint all farmers with this huge brush, it’s so frustrating to me.  Any industry will have bad actors, but that doesn’t mean that everybody is.”

Carrie adds that on the hundreds of dairy farms she has been on she has never seen anything like that happening.  She does say that the video from Chilliwack is unacceptable,   ”There is no excuse for that kind of treatment of cows.”  Though she is also quick to admit that “sometimes I’m mean to my cows” and it’s because it can mean life or death.  Sometimes farming is messy, ugly, and tragic.  (Read more: Sometimes we are mean to our cows)

“I do want people to understand that these are very large animals and that we can’t necessarily just pick up with a couple of guys lifting her,” she explains.  “A cow is so big that if she lays down for too long, whether it’s because of an injury or illness, the cow is large enough that basically her legs go to sleep.  More so than you can ever imagine where she just can’t get up.  So if she’s laying down for too long and can’t get up, she’s not going to be able to get up…a down cow that can’t get up is going to be a dead cow.”

Now to be fair to the video from Chilliwack Cattle Sales, there are some actions that to the uneducated watcher seem pretty horrific, but to the average dairy farmer can be explained.  One such case is the rush to get a downed cow off of the rotary parlor before she is squished to death.  The cows are so large there is no other way to lift them than to use a tractor.  However, then the average dairy farmer would also ask, “Why was the cow down in the first place?”  If it was because she was afraid of the rotary parlor, which can be the case, then why was she being forced to go on it in the first place?

None of this is to say the abuse shown at Chilliwack Cattle Sales was justifiable in any way because it’s not.  However, this situation highlights a significant disconnect in our modern dairy production system.  How does the consumer, who doesn’t know anything about where his milk comes from, have a meaningful discussion with the dairy farmer who doesn’t have to think about the person at the grocery cooler buying it?

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, the only way to prevent future videos of this nature is to give activists nothing to film.  Dairy farmers around the world need to look at their own operations and make sure that they run a farm that they’re proud to show to anyone, at any time, and are not afraid to do so, especially through social media.  Education is key, although it takes time and effort from both sides and doesn’t really prevent the possibility of problems slipping through.  Thanks to the power of social media we all have the opportunity  to help educate the  consumer about  how much we care for our dairy cattle and why the dairy community is one of the greatest in the world.  (Read more: Why the Dairy Community is the Greatest in the World….)  Remember we cannot expect the general media to do it for us, because Happy Cows Don’t Make Headlines.



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Dairy Cattle Abuse Video – A black eye for the dairy industry

On Friday, a new undercover video from the non-profit group Mercy for Animals Canada was released showing abuse of dairy cattle at Canada’s largest dairy farm, Chilliwack Cattle Sales.  The video, shot by a former employee of the farm, shows dairy cows being whipped and beaten with chains and canes, as well as being punched and kicked.  This totally unacceptable conduct is a black eye for everyone in the dairy industry around the world.

The video is horrific.  To dairy farmers the video is heartbreaking.  A large majority of the people who dairy farm have family run organizations and treat their animals as if they are part of the family.  To see a dairy cow being treated in such a horrific manner is absolutely disgusting.

For their part, the Kooyman family has also expressed their concerns over the treatment of the cattle on their farm and they first suspended all employees involved, pending investigation, and have now fired them.  (Read more: Kooyman family in shock after allegations of employee animal cruelty and Employees terminated, cameras to be installed following release of video)  The challenge is that this should never have happened in the first place.  In watching the video, it would seem that these are isolated cases.  You see multiple employees abusing a cow at one time, even while knowing that they are being videotaped.  This indicates that the employees were comfortable with their actions.  It would seem to show that those actions were generally accepted on the farm.  Even though you, as owner or manager, might never take part in such actions yourself, what happens on your farm and how your cows are treated there is your responsibility.

As very large dairy farms are becoming more common, it often means hiring help that have not come from a dairy cattle or animal handling background, especially when trying to hire works for the night shift on farms that milk three times a day, as may have been the case here.  As a result, they have not been properly trained around dairy cattle and don`t understand animal behavior.  Quite likely, up to the point of being hired, they have not been exposed to the art of dairy stockmanship.  Recently we published an article about the lost art of dairy cattle stockmanship in response to growing concerns, which triggered our alarm bells.  (Read more: The Lost Art of Dairy Cow Stockmanship.  When Push Comes to Nudge.)   With the now firing of the individuals involved, there is potential additional legal action that could be taken by these individuals against Chilliwack Cattle Sales, claiming that this is how they were trained and the generally accepted conduct at the farm, and so firing them for these actions is unfair.

It’s really about culture and engagement

Ben Loewith from Summitholm Holsteins, one of Canada’s top managed herds, comments on the situation with proactive advice.  “Take this opportunity to discuss proper animal care with everyone on the farm.  Create a culture where improper handling is reported to you.”  Having been on Summitholm’s Lynden Ontario farm numerous times, I can attest to the fact that, at Summitholm, every cow is treated with the utmost respect and care.  This practice is a synchronization of the exceptional animal husbandry and people management of the Loewith family that is a priority of their personal management style.  They know that a comfortable cow is the most profitable kind of cow there is.  I have been told by employees at Summitholm, of which some have been there over 20 years, that “If you yell at a cow, let alone kick or hit a cow, you might as well start looking for new employment.”

The handling of this issue reminds me of a quote from Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Enterprises and sixth richest citizen in the UK, where he said, “The way you treat your employees is the way they will treat your customers.”  Well, for me, the same is true on a dairy farm.  The way you treat your employees is the way they will treat your cows.  Properly trained and respectfully treated employees follow the rules.  They know they are doing a good job, are less stressed, and use their energy toward being more productive. (Read more: 80 Ways to Build a Dairy Dream Team – Employees are what make dairy farms successful today)

The following are some key benefits of properly training and treating your employees:

  • Less risk
    A well-trained and managed employee is less likely to administer a wrong product or treat an animal incorrectly.  One mistake from an untrained or unhappy employee could cost you financially and personally.  Why risk your company’s reputation?
  • Consistency
    Happy well-trained employees are consistent employees.  When you have a good training program, you’ll have a much more dependable output regardless of employee pre-dairy experience.  You’ll see more consistent compliance with protocols, and workers will understand why following these protocols are necessary.  When employees follow protocols, production increases.
  • Better company culture
    While some may think that “corporate culture” is not relevant on a dairy farm, they could not be more wrong.  Workers cannot know if they are doing a good job if they do not clearly understand what the job requires.  Lack of training creates stress and a culture of disengaged employees, which can also lead to higher turnover.  Proper training and treatment help communicate the value of employees’ roles, which drives engagement and motivation for employees to put forth extra effort from the beginning.
  • Increased profitability
    Having fully developed and engaged employees will allow you, the owner or manager, to focus on strategic goals.  You’ll have confidence that employees know how to operate efficiently.  In addition, they too will have confidence, which further contributes to increased efficiency.  Knowing the proper protocols means that no one has to wait on owners or managers for instructions or approval.

Social Outrage

Dairy farmers from across the country took to social media to share their outrage towards the culprits who were caught abusing dairy cows. Many also tried to counter the negative press by sharing pictures and tweets about how animals are cared for on their farms.  Times like these are exactly why we need more dairy farmers involved in initiatives like proAction.  The proAction Initiative is a way of showing our customers and consumers that we have improved the management of our farms over time. That we take responsibility for our on farm food safety, quality of milk, care of our animals, and care of the environment. We are doing things to enhance biosecurity to limit or prevent diseases from coming onto our farms. It’s going to be a way of not only telling our consumers that we are doing a good job but we will have a way of measuring and proving that claim. It will be a way of defending our best practices that we are implementing on our farms. Showing is better than just telling all the great things we as Canadian dairy farmers are doing in the area of sustainability.  (Read more: TOM HOOGENDOORN- Family man, Farmer & Our Face to the Consumer!)  Michele Pay-Knoper, an agriculture agvocate points out that “We have a tendency to be modest, stubborn and independent – and extraordinarily busy milking cows, putting up hay and taking care of business. However, telling your story is a business practice today”.  (Read more: Michele Payn-Knoper – Standing Up and Speaking Out for Agriculture)

It’s times like these that we need to share messages and videos like the one Dairy Carrie – Carrie Mess – produced entitled “Undercover Dairy Farm Video”.    While the title might have you expecting to see something similar to that of the Mercy for Animals Canada at Chilliwack Cattle Sales, instead what you see is what really goes on behind the doors of a dairy farm which is calm comfortable dairy cows, eating and producing high quality milk. (Read more: Dairy Carrie – Diary of a City Kid Gone Country)

 The Bullvine Bottom Line

As dairy farms grow larger, it is important that the quality of stockmanship does not decline.  It is important to take the time to train your employees on what high quality stockmanship involves. Training and upgrading of animal handling skills is an ongoing priority.  The challenge is that everyone on the dairy operation must recognize the importance of proper treatment and care of the herd. Ideally, the monitoring is everyone’s role.  There can never be an “I didn’t know!” excuse. Ultimately, whether you have 10 or 10,000 cows, you are responsible for the proper care and treatment of your cattle.

For more an proper care and handling of farm animals check out The Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Farm Animals: Dairy Cattle.



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The Dairy Farmer’s Wife

This past Mother’s Day, while I heard many ladies talking about the relaxing day they were having and their gifts of spa days for rest and relaxation, I noticed a slight variation of this coming from the dairy farmers’ wives that I know.  They were working.  I guess that won’t come as a surprise to anyone.  After all, being a dairy farm wife is a 365 days a year, no rest responsibility.

Photo from Modern Farm Wife - Click to read her great blog about being a dairy farmers wife

Photo from Modern Farm Wife – Click to read her great blog about being a dairy farmers wife

Now let’s get our facts straight. First by no stretch of the imagination can we assume that all dairy farmers are men only.  In fact, we have had the opportunity to profile several female dairy farmers.  Julia James is one. (Read more: Julia James: “Cow by Cow.  Doing it Now.” and Michele Payn-Knoper – Standing Up and Speaking Out for Agriculture!!)  As well there are numerous dairy farms that are 50/50 operations.   (Read more: Dairy Carrie – Diary of a City Kid Gone Country) We have also had the opportunity to interview dairy farm wives who came to dairy farming not from their childhood, but rather through marriage.  These woman traded stilettos for rubber boots to marry a rough and ruggedly handsome dairy farmer.

Photo by From Heels to Boots -

Photo by From Heels to Boots – Click to see her great blog

Having established that, when the dairy farm is a family operation, the modern wife’s role is far greater than just caring for the children, as the old romanticized version would have you believe.  The modern dairy farm wife’s role ranges from raising calves, bailing hay to making long-term financial decisions.  Right beside their husbands, their day starts before the sun rises and does not end until after it sets.  There are cows to be milked, calves to be fed and pens that need cleaning.  There are few weekends off or sick days.  Being a dairy farmer’s wife is as big a commitment for her as it is for him.  Not to mention that she also multitasks because there are kids to be fed, chauffeuring to sports and lessons to handle and a healthy dose of   community involvement to stir in.  (Read more:  Dairy Farm Moms are Unstoppable)  The logistics of a dairy wife’s routine would make the heads of most socialites spin.

While many may assume that all decisions on the dairy farm are made by one person, usually the male farmer, in reality spouses and children often work together to set priorities.  Much of what they decide is talked about at the kitchen table which is less formal but just as effective as the boardroom table in city settings.


Like any effective business, running a dairy farm requires diverse skills, cooperation, and commitment.  Now the typical duties must still involve the obvious ones about crops, machinery, feed, and pastures, which have traditionally been male domain.  However, today the wife too goes beyond the traditional role of household budgeting, childcare, and decisions about leisure activities.  On the modern dairy operation, women also make decisions starting with the care of calves to retiring a favorite cow from the milking string and everything in between.  Crucial decisions about capital investments, dairy herd development and long-term financial decisions get input and consideration from both halves of the team.  There’s definitely a division of labor, but it’s the person who does the work that makes the decisions.  Dairy farming is hands on and decisions are required 24/7.  That’s why many significant decisions that involve long-term judgments are discussed around the dinner table.  The rhyme says, “The farmer takes a wife!” but the underlying message is “Dairy farming takes the whole family.”

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Dairy farming is more than a job. It is a lifestyle.  It is the way of life that takes the involvement from the whole family.  While everyone has a different role and responsibilities on the dairy, they all have the same-shared goals.  Many people choose to dairy farm in part because they enjoy being on the land, working with the cattle and they value the dairy farm as a good place to raise children.   The dairy wife is a key factor in this family scenario. Wives working on dairy farms see themselves as dairy farmers. No glass ceiling here. Just dedication, commitment and teamwork.  “Mother’s Day” for them includes their dairy girls and their offspring and, around the table or around the dairy farm, they don’t mind a day to bask (however briefly) in the glow of being recognized for their valued contribution.



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“Farmed and Dangerous” – The Dairy Farmer’s Never Ending Battle with Public Perception

Chipotle Mexican Grill is not new to pushing the edge with their advertising.  This time they have plans to launch “Farmed and Dangerous,” a Chipotle original comedy series that satirically explores the world of industrial agriculture in America. (Read more: Chipotle to Launch “Farmed and Dangerous”)  When I saw this, ad it brought to light again the constant battle farmers and especially dairy farmers face when dealing with public perception.

There is no question that consumers want their food to be fresh, cheap and 100% natural.  With the emphasis being that, they want it cheap.  All consumers would like to believe that the milk they drink comes from cows that roam lush green pastures and frolic with their friends all day long.  The challenge of course is that it just doesn’t happen that way.  In order to produce the volumes of milk that is needed at the lowest cost, the need for larger “agribusinesses” or the negatively perceived “factory” farms is not a choice but a necessity. The thing is any well run dairy operation knows the first requirement for maximum efficiency and production comes down to how well you treat your cows and how comfortable they are.  Cow comfort is one of the biggest indicators of profitability on any dairy.  If the cows are well fed and comfortable, the dairy is running at peak efficiency, even “factory farms.”

That is why this new “Farmed and Dangerous” video from Chipotle offends me as much as it does.  Over the years, I have had the opportunity to walk among the cows on many large farms.  The consistent management goal found on all of them is maximizing cow comfort.  I recently watched an informative video by National Geographic – Megafactories about a 135,000 head dairy in Saudi Arabia owned by Almarai.

The problem is that messages like the one from National Geographic get lost.  Instead consumers see repeated messages like the one by Chipotle and assume that they are seeing the way things really are.  Since starting the Bullvine, we have tried to do our part to provide consumers with an accurate and positive perception of dairy farming…  (Read more:  Dairy Carrie – Diary of a City Kid Gone Country, Michele Payn-Knoper – Standing Up and Speaking Out for Agriculture!! and TOM HOOGENDOORN- Family man, Farmer & Our Face to the Consumer!).  Unfortunately, the challenge is that the message is simply not making it through to the general consumer often enough or clearly enough.  Yes large agribusinesses do try to put a positive spin on food production and I get it that it’s not always as sweet and rosie as the image they would have you believe.  Having said that, they certainly don’t need companies like Chipotle undermining these efforts.

I have been fortunate over the years to be exposed to many different cultures and backgrounds.  This has led to a very diverse group of friends on my Facebook feed.  Since I post all the Bullvine featured articles on my Facebook wall, I often get interesting feedback from those who do not come from a dairy background.  While most often questions about arise from them wanting to understand what this whole “Genomics” thing is about, the interaction gets me thinking about the effect our Facebook feeds have on the general consumer’s understanding of agriculture and milk production.

With this in mind, I started looking through my list of dairy friends’ Facebook posts.  For the most part, it was just the same as any other groups, except there are a lot of pictures of cows.  With #felfie’s and other pictures adding a nice touch.  Then I started to see some things that most consumers would just not understand.  One such piece of content was a trend that is going viral, #necknominations.  Necknominations is a drinking game where participants film themselves “necking” liquor, then nominate a friend to do so as well.  This was not the first time I had seen these.  I have actually seen many.  After one such time, a fellow dairy industry member wondered what effect this would have on the general consumer’s perception of dairy farmers.  As I think about this, I find that, while it’s not a “positive” thing for dairy farmers, it certainly is not an isolated event for them either.  It has become viral worldwide.  Unfortunately it even lead to the death of a young man.  This really has me thinking about the power of Facebook on consumer perception.

What I have come to realize is that Facebook does have great power and it can be in a very positive way.  I have seen items like the poem (Just a cow) that highlights just how much dairy farmer’s love for their cows can go viral along with the stories that share the day-to-day challenges that all dairy farmers face in producing clean, wholesome milk.

One video that I think does a great job of  showing  exactly what it means to be a dairy farmer, is the recent video the Canadian Dairy Xpo produced called “So God Made a Dairy Farmer”.  Working off the very viral Super Bowl commercial by Dodge Ram, this video is narrated by the unique voice and great dairy advocate and legendary auctioneer, David Carson.

It highlights the daily challenges dairy farmers face and it is messages like this one that I wish more consumers would see and relate to.  Please like and share this in your Facebook feed, so that more consumers can understand exactly what it means to be a dairy farmer.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

There is no question that as the world’s population grows, there is going to be greater and greater demand for dairy products.  With that comes the pressure on prices, which will lead to larger and larger dairy farms.  While I understand we all don’t have the time to take up consumer education like Dairy Carrie or Michele Payn-Knoper, there are effective  things that each of us can l do.  On your Facebook feed, be sure to post as many positive images of dairy farming as you can.  Whether  that is a new born calf (yes Jerry Jorgenson, you do this well!) and be sure to let consumers know just how much you love what you are doing and the pride you have in taking great care of your dairy cattle.  Real farmers actively sharing and communicating is definitely the most honest and effective way to give consumers a positive perception.  While it may not seem like much, every little bit helps!?”


To learn how to get your farm on Facebook download this free guide.



Dairy Carrie – Diary of a City Kid Gone Country

dairy carrie“I grew up in Madison WI, exactly 2 miles south of the World Dairy Expo grounds.” So begins what could be a simple diary entry.  But there is nothing simple about the writing of Carrie Mess who was raised in the heart of dairy land but not exactly part of it – at least not in the beginning. “Aside from seeing lots of cattle trailers on the Beltline as a kid, I had zero connection to dairy farms.” That all changed when Carrie met Patrick Mess whose family has been in the dairy business for generations. “After we got married I left my job in town and started working on the farm. We knew we wanted farming to be a part of our future but I had no idea if I could hack it on a dairy farm. I literally knew nothing about cows when I started but fell in love fast and found what I believe is the path I was meant to be on.” Those who know Carrie wholeheartedly agree.

Blogging In Vicariously!

Carrie had found her path but there would be some twists and turns. Technology became one helpful signpost along the way.  Carrie explains some of the first steps. “Via twitter I found a group of farmers that called themselves the AgChat Foundation. This group was all about using social media to tell the story of agriculture. I attended the 2nd AgChat Foundation 2.0 Conference and started thinking about creating a blog. At the time I was searching for a strong connection to agriculture. Patrick and I had had changes in our lives and weren’t on the dairy farm. I wanted something that kept me part of the dairy industry. A few weeks later I wrote my first post and the rest is history!” History yes!  But a lot more interesting for her readers!!

“All the Moos About Me!”

Patrick and Carrie are back on the farm now and have formed an LLC (Limited Liability Company) with his parents to purchase their 100 cow dairy. Carrie manages the herd health side of things as well as scheduling a few part time employees. She is a blog writer but her passion makes it so much more as she explains, “My blog is centered around agriculture and mainly dairy. However the title is “The Adventures of Dairy Carrie” and my life does include things outside of cows. Sometimes I will blog about music, food or whatever else I am thinking. It’s my blog so I make the rules! I find that writing about non dairy topics is also a great way to connect with people outside of agriculture.” You might say that anything relating to pen-manship — on the farm or on the keyboard — inspires Carrie.


This Merry Prairie Carrie has Mentors

Actresses have role models and bloggers do too! Once again, Carrie aspires to the unexpected. “When I grow up I want to be a combination of the Pioneer Woman and Mike Rowe*. They are both great at sharing stories in a fun and entertaining way.” However, Carrie’s career path has been mentored well on the serious side too. “When it comes to the cows, my in-laws, Clem and Cathy Mess have taught me the vast majority of what I know about dairy cattle. The care they give their cows is an example for all of us.” (Michael Gregory “MikeRowe is an American media personality best known as the host of the Discovery Channel series Dirty Jobs)

Carrie is Caring, Sharing and Calling YOU!

Carrie’s commitment to agriculture is a rallying cry for all of us. ““I believe that the future of agriculture, the very future of our food supply, rests in my hands and the hands of the people out there on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube sharing their lives.

dairy carrie2

Does She Get Carried Away? Absolutely!!

As the wave of Carrie’s dairy enthusiasm grows, so does the pressure on her schedule.  She admits, “I don’t sleep very much and my smart phone is glued to my hand. Between the farm, my full time position with Udder Comfort, selling semen for Sierra Desert Breeders and, my blog is often neglected. I try to post at least one post a week. A post can take me anywhere from 20 minutes to write to hours. I’ve found that some of my most popular posts are posts that I put up in a hurry. I guess I should take that as a hint and not to over think everything that I write.” Judging from her popularity Carrie probably could rest on her laurels and fall back on, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it!” That’s not the Carrie way however!!

The Big Barn Theory Hammers Home Carrie’s “Shocking” Message

Carrie has used many means to deliver her message and one of them was especially revealing. “My most popular post, with over 42,000 views was the video I made showing what really happens on a dairy farm. I set it up as a “shocking undercover video” to mimic the animal rights videos that get out. Again, I was blown away by the response I got! The video was shot quickly and put up so I wouldn’t feel guilty about not posting all week. I think it went over so well because people who were expecting to see something bad instead watched, laughed and learned and didn’t even realize it. I find humor is the best approach to the heavy stuff. Makes it all easier to digest.” Whatever her method the results are music to dairy lovers everywhere.

Someday She Will Carrie a Tune

This dynamo has many fields that she would like to cover in the future.  “I would really love to learn to play the guitar. I am a huge music lover and wish I had the talent to make my own music.”  She’s modest but her musical enthusiasm led to a connection that was behind this hardworking ambassador’s promotion of another agricultural event. ““The Departed song “Worth the Fight” is a really great tune; it really gets me revved up and rocking,” It was the inspiration behind her Farming: Worth the Fight! Agvocacy. “The song has been my biggest inspiration. Last fall when I was organizing a Hay Drive to help struggling farmers and ranchers in Oklahoma and Texas, the guys from The Departed helped me out by sharing the Hay Drive info to their fans. I really appreciated their help and thought that this was a great way to say thanks to them, as well as tie my love for agriculture and music into one big post.” When Carrie loves something, you’re going to hear about it.

Diary of Another Fine Mess

Inspired by the family farm and loving her life with husband Patrick Mess, Carrie says he is the one she relies on. “He can make or fix anything and he keeps me sane when life   starts spiraling out of control.” And that is probably why she so firmly believes that there is hope even though as she puts it, “ the future of farming in our country is teetering on the edge of disaster.” and needs all of us to raise our voices. “Misinformation is running wild across the news channels and internet. If the people out here making the decisions about how food in this country is produced don’t speak up and provide the transparency that our customers are demanding, soon our decisions will be made for us.” Hear here!!

The Bullvine Bottom Line – Carry Forward!

With champions like Carrie sharing her Dairy Diary and carrying the Dairy Torch, the future looks brighter indeed. Let’s help her keep carrying on!! It’s good for all of us!



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