UDA Members and Animal Care
Dairy producers genuinely care about their animals. Most dairy producers grew up on a dairy, and absorb a sense of love and responsibility for their animals from a very young age. UDA producers are also very clear that consumers want to purchase food from sources they know will take care of animals, and operate in a way that is consistent with their values and expectations.
|Learn how Arizona dairy farms|
take care of their cows.
Health & Medical
Arizona dairy veterinarians Niles Jennett, Bruce Ericsson and Doug Prante talk about the importance of proper health care and medical attention on the dairy.
Food & Shelter
Food and shelter are major parts of a dairy operation and cow comfort is top priority. Arizona dairy veterinarians Niles Jennett, Bruce Ericsson and Doug Prante tell the story.
In Arizona, where summer temperatures regularly exceed 100 degrees, cow comfort and animal well-being have always been top priorities. That's why Arizona dairy herds have some of the highest production levels in the country. The summer conditions have prompted UDA members to take particular pains to ensure cow comfort. They use misting systems to cool the animals, with droplets so tiny they evaporate before they reach the ground, thus avoiding the creation of muddy corrals. Fans are mounted on the sides of the cow shades (structures which are located to minimize exposure to the sun), along with canvas curtains which drop down automatically when the temperatures reach a specified level; the curtains roll back up automatically when wind velocity reaches a designated limit. The cow shades are typically installed on elevated ground to increase drainage of cow waste away from the shaded areas where cows linger. When it does rain, the slope from the elevated shades also aids in draining the water away from the animals. The corrals are scraped or "groomed" 2-3 times a day, and the manure is replaced with clean, dry bedding for the cows to lie in.
Some of Arizona's newer dairies house their animals in a barn known as a "Saudi Barn", because the design was originally crafted for the hot weather conditions in Saudi Arabia.
These structures feature very high ceilings, with a ventilation gap running the length of the barn. The sides of the structure are open, and the high peak (typically 14-18 feet) enhances air flow.
Dairy design is focused on animal well-being. The location of the pens in relation to the milking parlors is determined partly to ensure that no animals have an excessively long walk to be milked. The holding pen - or "lobby" of the milking parlor - is also equipped with fans and misters, so that while the udders are being cleaned with floor mounted misters, the cows are cooled.
The size of Arizona herds - average of 1500 - 2000, compared to a national average of 100-150 - also supports animal well-being efforts. Large dairies require a systematic, well-managed approach to every aspect of animal care. Specific tasks are the responsibility of specific job positions, thus making it easier to ensure that all of the animal care tasks - including hoof trimming, vaccinating, dehorning - are being performed properly.
As a final measure of the attention to animal well-being, UDA members have a consulting veterinarian and a nutritionist. Together with a herdsmen and/or dairy manager, these professionals form a dedicated team to ensure that sound practices for animal well-being and cow comfort are built into the daily procedures and monitored regularly.