Marchy and De Groot families
“We’re trying to see things from a cow’s perspective. That means making sure she has plenty of space to relax.”
Marchy Dairy ~ Ceres, California
Bob Marchy is soft on his cows, literally. He knows a soft, dry, roomy place to rest can make all the difference between a healthy, content and productive cow and an injured or sick cow. So comfort is job one.
“We’re trying to see things from a cow’s perspective,” he said. “That means making sure she has plenty of space to relax.”
The individual beds in the barn include a soft, multi-celled mattress filled with recycled rubber crumbs and covered in a layer of soft, absorbent compost. This makes for a soft, resilient and dry bed for the 1,400-pound cows to rest or sleep.
His cows walk to the milking parlor twice a day on rubber mat walkways, which protect the hooves and reduce the chance of slipping and causing injuries.
During the 23 and half hours daily when the cows aren’t being milked, they have freedom to pretty much do what they want: sleep, eat, walk around out in the corral or socialize with other cows.
On summer days, misters and fans come on to cool the cows to a comfortable 73 degrees, and there are plenty of watering stations.
Marchy’s desire to keep his cows comfortable hasn’t hurt milk production either: “We see more consistent production during the wet winters and the hot summer months.”
“Everybody has to do their part for air quality, including us. We live here, too.”
Tony De Groot
De Groot Dairy Farms ~ Hanford, California
Tony DeGroot relies on some admittedly low-tech, yet effective strategies to reduce air quality impacts from his dairy. Sand on the roads holds moisture, keeping dust down. Rows of pine trees provide an attractive landscape and an effective screen against wind blowing up dust.
On the other end of the technology scale, DeGroot relies on Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) technology to guide his tractors accurately and efficiently. This saves fuel, reduces exhaust and kicks up less dust from unnecessary tractor passes.
He’s also implemented a no-till farming program that works with his ranch, another method for reducing dust and preventing erosion while using less fuel and reducing tractor emissions.
Electric pumps bring irrigation water to his crops these days instead of diesel engines. Though expensive to install, they have begun to reward him with cheaper and less volatile power costs — and zero emissions.
“Some of these are small steps, some bigger, but they add up,” he said. “Everybody has to do their part for air quality. We live here, too. We’re especially happy when we can find ways to improve our environment and reduce costs at the same time.”