How feeding calves reflects family mealtime

Naturally, as farmers, we need to feed the animals on the farm on a daily basis. One of the most enjoyable is feeding the babies, from chicks, calves and piglets. Every visitor enjoys watching them when they are here. Likewise, mealtime at your home should be a wonderful event that all look forward to.

bottle feeding bull calf at FamiMatt bonding with bull calf while he bottle feeds it at Family Friendly Farm.ly Friendly Farm

Matt bonding with bull calf while he bottle feeds it at Family Friendly Farm.

There is an older word for taking care of animals, animal husbandry. It encompasses all the aspects of feeding, watering, shelter, mating, birthing, emotional and social needs, etc.

When you’re running a business you think of things in terms of the bottom dollar. How much will it cost; do we have the money; how much will it earn us? A farmer needs to keep all the needs of animals in balance while staying in budget.

It is no different for you. You need to take care of your needs and your families physical needs but you also need to take care of emotional and social needs and stay in budget. 

One paradigm (or way of looking at things) that we are combating at mealtime is nutrition. For calves it is the idea that grain-fed cattle are better than grassfed. The vitamins, CLAs and Omega-3s are so much higher in grassfed beef and grassfed milk that we wouldn’t do it any other way. The cost to raise all Grassfed beef and milk is high. But the cost in lost vitamins, CLAs and Omega 3s is just too high of a trade off.

This is an idea that America needs to hear. For generations, it had been accepted that grain-fed was superior but if we are honest it is just cheaper. If you end up with heart disease, on medication for diabetes and random fibromyalgia pain would you say it was worth it?

As a farmer, if the nutrition isn’t present than the baby chicks, calves and piglets just won’t be healthy. Feeding higher quality meals to the babies provides for healthy long living adults. Now, that pays off!

How can mealtime apply to you?

As you sit down to eat your mealtime this week consider the needs at your table. A grade school childs brain is expanding rapidly, teens sprout up in inches, parents are burning serious calories during this busy season of their lives, elderly can’t absorb as well so every bite counts… Is there any time in a persons life they can skip good nutrition? No!

We must prioritize nutrition! In our busy lives, it is easy to put a sit down balanced, nutrient dense meal on the back burner. Yet without it you, your children, your grandchildren, your parents and your grandparents can not be performing optionally.

Eating time is bonding time. Let's bring back mealtime!

Eating time is bonding time. Let’s bring back mealtime!

Calves bond to their mothers in the first days. The nuzzle them in specific ways, call to them regularly. The mealtime nurturing forms a lifelong commitment of affection. You may find it strange we don’t have a photograph of a momma cow and baby calf. In this photo, we are bottle feeding the bull calf a bottle. We want him to grow up know Matt is a loving provider who he must listen to. This is vital to long, happy farm life in a dairy situation.

Bonding is essential for all of us! Taking time to eat together is vital for our relationships. Mealtime is when we reconnect and solidify who we are. Your family needs this just as much as you do!

So I challenge you to take it up a notch. If you currently eat balanced meals together three nights a week, start adding in a balanced breakfasts here mornings a week with a thirty minute sit down. 

Yes, you have to go to bed earlier if your going to get up, cook and have a sit down breakfast but you and your family are worth the investment! 

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