From the day a calf is born at Oakwood Dairy to the day it leaves the Aurelius farm, it is tracked.
Each Holstein cow is identifiable with earring-like tags that are cross-referenced to a database with information about its breeding pedigree, every time it has been given vaccinations, every time it has had a calf and every time it has been ill.
Each milk-producing cow has a transponder on one of her front legs that a sensor in the milking parlor tracks to document how much milk the cow gives and how many steps it takes for her to walk through the milking parlor.
That information is linked to Oakwood’s computer system. Any cows that have a significant drop in their steps or their milk production are highlighted for a checkup with a herdsman’s stethoscope, thermometer or rectum examination. Most of the time, the cows have simply kicked the transponders off.
The dairy also has an extensive vaccination program in place, which is instituted, in part, with the movement of cows between different barns as they get older.
Oakwood’s adult cows are vaccinated to prevent diarrhea in still unborn calves, the prevention of a disease that cause miscarriages in cows, toxic mastitis caused by E. coli bacteria, against Salmonella bacteria, against Clostridium bacteria and against bovine viral diarrhea, which affects the cows’ reproductive and immune health. Calves are vaccinated against a few more.