As a child, I had the good fortune to be able to ride the donkey, carrying two churns of milk to the milk collecting station. Today, computers controlling sophisticated electronics oversee the milking process. Everything has changed. The cow, which is the subject of this study, has been genetically improved, but basically, it is the same cow. There was a time when we produced milk to provide us with something to eat.
Today, here in Israel and in many other dairying countries, milk is not only a basic foodstuff; it is the raw material for a vast range of milk-based products. Then and now, the dairy industry keeps the farmer chained to his tasks 24 hours a day and that is the reason why we must continue searching for ways to provide the farmer and the cow with a better, more comfortable and more efficient life style.
This is not a dry scientific work filled with facts and references. It does not even present all the facts. But it is an attempt to present examples and practical solutions for the day-to-day running of a dairy, spiced with the appropriate soupcon of scientific thinking. I can only hope that I have succeeded and that is for the reader to judge.
First, a confession – The various models published by committees in different countries around the world are from my point of view, something akin to travel guides for tourists. Whereas practical planning will make use of the model, it must always take into account the limitations imposed by time and space. Reality will present the user with something different, which very often; will not conform precisely to the model.
During a conversation with an expert in nutrition some years ago, his reaction to a statement I had made was: “where is that written down?” It is my personal knowledge gained through experience. I do not act without reason; there will always be a scientific background accompanied by an additional dimension garnered through practical experience. If I was wrong, I learned the lesson taught thereby and reached the appropriate conclusions. I believe in this method as the best way forward.
As a natural continuation to that stated above, we have learned that the global trend towards fewer herds and larger numbers in those herds continuing to produce, forces us to think differently about how cow groups and/or the entire herd. Regrettably, the professional literature provides insufficient data and only a limited number of studies focus on herd nutrition. Therefore, we have had no choice but to develop ourselves, many of the issues, which constitute vital factors in our professional lives.