ABOUT OUR DAIRY
The dairy at Long Dream Farm aspires to the highest possible standards of animals rights, fulfillment and happiness for our cows, bulls and calves. This means not only providing a healthy life outdoors, but also natural social interactions and the love of humans.
Long Dream Farm is certified by the California Department of Food and Agriculture as a Grade A Dairy and licensed Milk Products Plant. We sell Greek Yogurt, Ice Cream, butter and several cheeses, all produced on site within one or two days of milking . We use only our own fresh milk from our beloved cows, so it is never transported or co-mingled with milk from other dairies. Please contact us for more information about our products and availability or visit our online store.
We recognize that there are many people who aspire to consume dairy products from cows living in a peaceful, friendly outdoor environment eating a nutritious diet that suits their unique digestive systems. We are proud of our ability to arrange the farm infrastructure and logistics around the natural herds and cattle social bonds between mother and calf, sister and sister cows, bulls with their own companions, grandmothers and calves, etc. All of our calves are raised in the herd, receiving human and bovine socialization and friendship. All of our animals, cows, bulls, the elderly and the infirmed are provided sanctuary (i.e. they live out their full natural lives here on the farm).
Animal Rights and Animal Welfare in Focus
Our farm philosophy is predicated on the idea that the cows are our partners and should have rights to a full life, unstressed and living in natural social groups with a rich emotional experience. Interactions with humans are designed to enhance the lives of the cows, calves and bulls.
As these rights are not currently recognized in broader society, we also follow the highest standards of care that we can glean from current research. In general our standards of animal care are aligned with those of the Animal Welfare Approved organization which may be the most rigorous and scientifically based available. We recently (June 2017) decided to no longer be certified/audited by AWA because of their increasing emphasis on meat production and new auxiliary certifications that we feel dilute the focus on the ethics of livestock based food production and animal rights. In any case, we feel that no third party certification has an audit process that should be entirely satisfying for consumers; there is no substitute for directly knowing your farmers, their farms and practices.
Some essential elements of our practices:
Our cattle live outdoors year round, never in barns, with access to pasture in synergy with our other farm animals, especially chickens
We raise heritage cattle breeds and crosses which are well suited to outdoor life and are naturally robust with long reproductive lives. They eat grass and other mixed forage, and are supplemented with hay, alfalfa and small amounts of grain. We feed no nontherapeutic antibiotics or hormones.
Calves are raised with their mothers and live with them nonstop - at least until they start their own families.
Calves spend all day with their mothers and are in a communal pen at night within their sight and smell (along with a rotating set of babysitter cows.)
Our cows are not pushed for high production: they are milked only once a day and are often given days off. Moreover, the mothers save their most nutritious milk and the bulk of the butterfat for their calves.
Heifer (female) calves are not bred until they are at least 18 months old and usually longer. We typically will breed cows at most every 2-3 years so they have plenty of time to raise their calves.
Lactation extension is an essential aspect of our practices. By keeping cows with their calves, milking once daily and breeding infrequently, we find that cows will keep steady milk production for much longer than in a typical dairy.
Bull calves and steers are kept as part of family groups and we do everything possible to keep cows with their best friends most if not all the year. Multi-generational cow families are common on the farm.
Our animals are not dehorned -- a painful procedure that can disrupt their natural heat regulation. We also, of course, do not dock tails, an especially cruel practice as the tail, among other purposes, is the cow's fly swatter.
Slaughter Free Dairy
Commercial dairies are highly dependent on the meat industry for their financial viability. To lactate- produce milk - cows must breed and produce calves, almost always on a yearly basis. Apart from the female calves some of which are raised as replacement milk cows, the vast majority of calves are separated immediately after birth and raised for beef. (As anyone who has seen the deep bond -- starting at birth and continuing through adult life -- between cows and their calves knows, this separation is agony -- cows lack nothing in emotional understanding). Commercial dairies also cull their milk cows as their production declines (generally after 2 or 3 lactations) and sell them for meat.
Long Dream Farm feels it should be possible for people to have the choice to consume dairy products without coupling to the meat industry. We hope that many people who consider themselves vegan will consider our products. (For more about how we perceive the dairy industry, its likely disruption and a possible future, please read this.)
Our motivations are not rooted in particular religious beliefs; rather we are compelled by our love for the cows as individuals to produce the most ethically unchallenged milk products possible in a mode that is sustainable and provides a template for scaling the model --assuming there is support from our customers.
Currently our herd consists of about 125 adults and 60 calves and yearlings and we are milking around 30 cows. Our analysis shows that we can produce dairy products economically while providing a home for all our milk cows, bulls and their offspring for their natural lives.
The key factor is to carefully control breeding/calving. As necessary, we can reduce our calf -- and milk production-- to guarantee sanctuary for all and maintain the environmental health of the land.
The standard commercial practice of raising a calf to breeding age, only to discard it after a few lactations clearly makes no sense from a longterm economic perspective; to offset these costs and to avoid exponential population growth, it is necessary to make meat the outcome for most dairy animals.
Interestingly, our practices which are virtually unknown in modern commercial dairies, work together to improve the economics of our dairy.
Breeding infrequently improves the health and extends the life and productivity of the cows while controlling population problems
Keeping cows with with their calves and milking once daily greatly reduces stress and helps extends their lactaction length
Please contact us to learn more about the economics of the slaughter free dairy, its asymptotic growth and the development of our permanent sanctuary will be forthcoming.
We are also now offering sponsorships allowing people to adopt a cow, bull or calf; these arrangements entitle people to make their adopted friend part of their lives including regular updates and visits.
To summarize our practices as a cruelty-free and slaughter-free dairy: all of our animals live on our farm for their entire lives, in their own family groups as much as possible; calves live with and are nurtured by their mothers; our bovine partners are never pushed for production; our population is controlled naturally through birth control to allow for the healthiest life for the animals with the most positive possible impact on the environment.