Sharing some of our educational posts from social media here on our website.
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Calf Digestion & Stomach Development

April 29, 2024

When a calf is born, it begins its life as a functionally non-ruminant animal. It has the anatomy ready for when it matures, but only one compartment of the stomach (abomasum) is fully developed at the time of birth. This is the compartment that has a similar processing ability to the human stomach.

🍼 The other 3 compartments remain undeveloped and out of use as long as a calf continues feeding solely on milk. As the calf begins to consume starter grain and forage, bacteria microbes start to develop in the rumen and reticulum, while milk and liquid substitutes continue to bypass the rumen and reticulum.

🐮 Weaning is a crucial process and needs to be done correctly to ensure proper development of the rest of their ruminant stomach.

🌾 Here at Linden Hall, calves are raised in individual pens so we can closely monitor their intake as well as protect their weak immune systems. We start them with the initial colostrum for their first 4 feedings, then their milk transitions to normal milk. They get free access to starter grain and water at all times. Closer to weaning, they get offered hay, as well.

🐄 We start to wean the calf at 2 months of age, then give them a period to adjust to their new all solid diet before promoting them to group housing.

Chewing Cud & Ruminant Digestion

April 26, 2024

Ever see a cow chewing like this, as if she’s chewing gum? She’s chewing her cud!

… “Wait, what’s cud?”

A cow is a ruminant, which means its stomach has four separate compartments.

🌾 Digestion begins when the cow’s long tongue wraps around plants and tears it, pulling it into their mouth. Cows have bottom teeth with a hard dental pad on the top plus molars to chew and stimulate saliva. When the cow first eats her feed she chews it just enough to moisten and swallow it. It then travels down to the esophagus to the first stomach compartment.

1️⃣ Rumen - acts as storage for chewed vegetation and bacteria get to work softening the feed and fiber. The softened food is called the cud. The rumen absorbs nutrients and facilitates fermentation. It can hold up to 40 gallons of material. The rumen, combined with the reticulum, makes up 84% of the volume of the entire stomach.

2️⃣ Reticulum - referred to as the “honeycomb,” as the lining is structured similar to a honeycomb. This component holds dense objects, such as metal pieces and rocks, and trap large feed particles that are not small enough to be digested. The reticulum facilitates regurgitation. Cud, the large, non-digestible pieces of plant matter, is regurgitated (belched back up into the cow’s mouth), chewed a second time and swallowed before continuing through the digestion process. 

3️⃣ Omasum - lined with large leaves and folds of tissue that resemble the pages of a book. These folds absorb water and nutrients from feed that passes through after its second round of chewing. The omasum is smaller than the rumen and reticulum, making up about 12% of the stomach’s total volume. It can hold up to about 15 gallons of material.

4️⃣ Abomasum - known as the “true stomach,” because it operates the most similar to a non-ruminant stomach. It further breaks down feed and plant material. In comparison to the other chambers, the abomasum is on the smaller side, representing about 4% of the total stomach volume and only holding about 7 gallons of material.

After going through all the stomach compartments, it moves through the small intestine, cecum, then large intestine. 💩

Could you imagine regurgitating your food?

How Dairy Farmers are Paid

April 12, 2024


🥛 How is milk sold?

If you said by the gallons ❌ that’s incorrect!

From the farmer’s point of view, milk is sold by the hundredweight (cwt), which means that the dairy farmer is paid by every 100 pounds of milk.

Farmers do not set the pricing in stores. Milk prices that the farmers receive change from month to month, based on milk futures prices. For example, if the current price is $19.00 per hundredweight, this means for every 100 pounds of milk produced, the farmers are paid $19.00 before paying expenses.

A gallon of whole milk weighs about 8.65 pounds. That means there’s about 11.56 gallons of milk per hundredweight. If the farmer is getting paid $19.00 per hundredweight, that would translate to about $1.64 per gallon of milk, regardless of retail price, before expenses.

Then, farmers have to stretch that $1.64 to cover many costs such as transportation for the milk, milk testing, milk promotion and marketing, feed costs, fuel costs, electric, equipment and supplies, etc. Not to mention, hope to have enough left over to feed and provide for their own families.

So, even when costs of expenses rise, as they are now currently with everything inflated, farmers cannot adjust how they are paid to compensate. Which is why you see many farmers open up on-farm stores to cut out the middleman expenses and try to earn money directly from the consumer in addition to their bulk pricing just to survive.

Many farmers have a contract with their co-ops, though, where they are supposed to ship 100% of their milk to their cooperative, and in turn get the benefit of not having on-farm expenses of testing, pasteurization, bottling, marketing, distribution and other corporate level expenses.

That's why you see many farmers turn to diversification, which is what you see here at Linden Hall Farm with a dairy farm, orchard combination.

Go support your local farmers! We do this job because we love it!

#MaolaMilk #MDVAmilk #dairycows #dairyfarming #gotmilk

Orchard Sprays - Water | Fungicides | Insecticides

April 8, 2024

What’s happening in the orchard?

🌸 As the orchard prepares to and starts to bloom, it’s time to start spraying. 

💦 The peaches require about 100 gallons of water. The apples require 400 gallons, which is about 100 gallons per acre. Here at Linden Hall, we do implement conventional practices of chemical sprays to ensure the quality and longevity of our fruit. However, the majority of what’s sprayed is water.

⏰ This time of year we spray fungicides, especially after all the rain. As the year goes on, we will introduce some more insecticides as well as continue with some of the fungicides. This equates to spraying about every 10-14 days, as needed.

✅ We spray on non-windy days to avoid drift and we monitor withhold times of all our chemical sprays as it gets closer to harvest dates to ensure there is no residue on the produce when sold to consumers and consumed by our own families.

🧼 We often get questions about organic produce. Our produce is not organic, but is sustainably grown to the best of our abilities. Even organic produce can be sprayed with organically approved chemical sprays, so as a reminder, whether you purchase organic or conventionally grown produce, always wash your fruit! 

#washyourfruit #conventionalfarming #buylocal #orchardlife #marylandagriculture #hagerstownmd

Food Labeling - Milk

April 4, 2024

What’s in your food? 

Sometimes it’s hard to tell with the thousands of sources of information providing you with conflicting information.

We’re here to help you understand it - straight from the source of where your food comes from.

For this specific post, we will focus on milk.

“Antibiotic Free” “rBST Free” “Organic” “Homogenized” “Non-Homogenized” “A2A2” “Lactose Free” “Raw Milk” “Pasteurized” and the list goes on, but what does it all mean?

🥛 Antibiotic Free and rBST are labels that have popped up in more recent years and are just that… labels. Putting these claims on milk is a redundant marketing tactic by companies. All milk and meat products are antibiotic free, and rBST is a naturally occurring hormone in cattle that is minute and irrelevant in the milk that you purchase from the store. Even if a carton of milk is lacking these labels, it is free of these elements.

🥛 Organic simply means the difference in the farming practice that was implemented to produce that milk. Regardless whether a farmer chooses organic or conventional farming practices, farmers are stewards of the land and caretakers of their animals, all in the best interest of consumers and their own families alike. Here at Linden Hall Farm, for example, implement conventional but sustainable practices to ensure the health of our own family and consumers, as well as promote the longevity of our farm.

🥛 Milk naturally separates when left on its own, milkfat particles rising as cream to the top. Homogenization is simply the process of breaking down the milkfat into smaller particles to create the smooth, consistent texture you expect with milk. You can find non-homogenized milk, or creamline milk, at some local farms.

🥛 Pasteurization is the partial sterilization of milk to make it safe for human consumption and improve its keeping quality. Raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurized. Despite the hundreds of tests and safety measures that take place from farm to production, pasteurization ensures that any bacteria, and therefore illness, is killed before you consume the product.

🥛 Lactose free milk is made by adding lactase to regular milk, which breaks down the lactose into simple sugars that are easier to digest. A2A2 is a naturally occurring protein found in milk that is also easier to digest. Farmers can genetic test their cattle to detect whether they have the A1 or A2 protein, then make breeding decisions to create a herd of cattle that produces just the easier to digest A2 protein. Both lactose free and A2A2 milk are great options for those that are sensitive to dairy products.

We know this was a lot of information all at once but hopefully this helps you understand what you see on milk product labeling!

If you ever have any further questions, ask the source… the farmer!

Our farm's milk goes into the Maola Milk brand, in case you ever want to look for it in stores!

#MaolaMilk #MDVAmilk #antibioticfree #rbstfree #organic #pasteurizedmilk #rawmilk #foodlabeling #A2A2 #lactosefree #gotmilk #dairyfarming #dairycows

Why We Separate Calves From Mothers

February 6, 2023

We separate mother cows from their babies soon after birth.

We know this is a common misunderstanding, so here’s why!

1️⃣ We want to give the calf a strong start to life and provide quality care to their mothers post-delivery. Dairy calves are born fragile and without a developed immune system, which makes it easy for them to get illnesses from the adult cows or their mother’s milk. 

The first milk out of a mother cow is called colostrum, which is full of nutrients necessary for their baby’s first feedings. Like humans, cows’ milk differs in quality and quantity. Some cows do not provide quality colostrum or enough of it to feed their calf, so we step in to assess both the quality of milk and need of the calf.

2️⃣ They are not typically separated from their calves the instant they are born. Under close monitoring, cows get time to hopefully lick their calf to clean and stimulate their baby. 

However, dairy cows aren’t as maternal as other animals and sometimes ignore their babies. 

Sadly, sometimes the mother or other adult cows in the herd get to moving around in their normal routines (because cows LOVE routines!) and not paying attention, step or lay on their babies.

We know that the media and activists like to appeal to emotions: most human moms could never imagine being separated from their newborns hours after birth. 

Cows are not humans; they are animals. They feel, but not in the same emotional capacity that we do. They like routine, and they strive to survive for themselves, not to tend after their children for years to come like humans do. 

As farmers, we treat our cows like our pets; we practice best management to keep our cows and their babies healthy & thriving.

Here at Linden Hall Farm we love our cows and do whatever it takes to keep them happy. ❤️

Questions? Ask a farmer!