Back in their pen, cows eat, drink, and rest at their leisure. Technology helps keep their barn as comfortable as possible, opening or closing the curtains and speeding up or slowing down the fans according to the temperature inside the barn. Cows have access to water and a professionally balanced feed ration 24/7. They rest in freestalls comprised of a thick rubber mat and covered in fluffy bedding.
The cows at Jones Family Dairy have a calf every one to two years. Different from their beef counterparts, who calve in the spring and raise their calves in a pasture for several months, dairy cows have calves year around and are working mothers. After calving, the cow takes care of her calf for 20 to 30 minutes. When she is ready to rest and eat, the calf is moved to a warm room where he or she is fed colostrum, and given a health check and an ear tag. The mother is milked and given a health check. She then spends two to five days in the special needs pen where she will eat, drink, rest, and be monitored closely before entering the fresh cow (new mothers) pen where she will be milked with the herd on the rotary parlor.
The calves are fed colostrum and sleep a lot in the warm room for the first 24 to 36 hours. As soon as they are running around well, they are moved to an individual pen in the calf barn where they will be monitored closely for 10 to 14 days before being cleared to join a group pen of eight to ten other calves their same age. Calves are fed milk two times a day for eight weeks while they grow and start to eat grain. Calves will be raised on the farm and have their first calf at two years old. At this time, they will join the milking herd.