By Grace Maina
Through my products, I have met the nutritional demands of mankind, animals, as well as support ecosystems for millennia. I am a cultural, religious, and a status symbol to others.
Across many generations, I have been used to support economies. I have also been used as a working tool by many.
There are all kinds of humans identified by regions, races and color and so am I; Friesian, jersey, Guernsey, Brahman, zebu, boran, sahiwal Belgian blue, among many others are all of my own kind.
I have been bred to meet the various needs that I am purposed to, and dutifully execute the roles assigned to me by mankind.
Though milk and meat are the main products I am associated with, I have a basketful of other goodies that I offer to nature.
Different welfare conditions pose challenges and opportunities for me to offer that which I am intended to. I will dwell much on the kind, that is intended to meet nutritional demands for mankind.
Depending on where I am being raised to meet these demands, my conditions and welfare vary considerably. To supply gallons of milk that quenches the thirst and nourishes millions of people. Those that are of my kind will attest to it that I’m offered the best and the worst conditions alternatively.
The creamier my milk is, the greater the value that is attached to me. The more the gallons of milk I produce, the greater the value that is attached to me.
A day in my life will vary, depending on who my master is, as well as where my master raises me.
There are those of us that are lucky enough to be raised in what we might term as boarding schools, or facilities (zero grazed) as they could be referred to by those that are used to trekking across terrains of lands in search of food and water.
Nevertheless, the more you are in a higher state of the art facility, the more the demands that are bestowed upon you; to produce more gallons of milk as a reciprocate measure of the tender life that I am offered.
This tender life though, entails being woken upon by either the sounds of buckets in the morning or the farm hands to extract from me what I have been processing at night.
After the extraction, I’m offered a rationed meal be it silage, dairy meal, hay, mineral salts among other supplies to keep the ‘milk machine’ within me running and well oiled.
My sheds are then cleaned later in the day. If my master is kind enough, then the processes of milk extraction and feeding is repeated two or more times in a day.
Those of us that move from one place to the other in search of pasture as their masters wish are regarded to as cows of a lower caste. The distances and climates that can be torturous. But when we withstand these conditions, we are regarded as physically fit.
Though the amounts of milk that we produce could be meager, it is considered creamier and tasteful, as compared to that of other animals
Our meat is tender too, and I hear that we are referred to as good beef cows but do we have any “beef” with any one? That one I’m not sure of.
Our counterparts on the other hand are referred to as dairy cows. Well, it makes sense that they are offered dairy meals and we the beef cows are not.
My days entail routine grazing from fields to fields, for days and months and even years until I gain a considerable size that mankind may deem fit to make a meal out of me.
Of breeds that are bred to meet various other needs, we’ll talk about them later on, when an opportunity arises. We will also discuss the various challenges that all of us encounter in our lives to make the life of man and nature bearable.