Dairy culture is our essential asset
Jan Arie Koorevaar isn’t just a global marketing manager at Elanco ... each day he’s up at first light to put in the hours at his family farm. A regular contributor to this blog on his life as dairy producer, Jan Arie explains how he’s supported by a distinct dairy culture.

Farmers have to be a bit crazy. During harvesting times, there really aren’t any hours left in the week to relax, and it’s hard not to wonder why we do it from time-to-time. As a farmer, you know you have to put the work in and be prepared for setbacks. You won’t often see the reward for all your hard work at the end of a busy day. You need to be patient.

And you can’t allow the care of your animals to dip, even in the busy times. The legacy I am building as a dairy farmer was passed on to me from my father – from the herd he built and believed in, to the herd I am building and believe in today. Like every farmer, I know my herd depends on me, and that feeding, milking and taking care of them allows them to remain healthy and perform well.

A photographer friend of mine recently followed my dairy farmer neighbour during his last morning milking to document the occasion before his retirement. He saw that farmers are truly passionate about their animals – not many 65-year-olds would start their working day at 6am to ensure their cows eat breakfast before they eat their own.

The other thing my friend told me was that he believed that spending time with their cows probably makes dairy farmers quite philosophical, and even wise (it probably isn’t for me to say whether or not he’s right!). As a dairy farmer you do what’s best for your cows. You have the responsibility for their health and for the income of your family. And having to be responsive to health complications disturbs your routine and those of the animals in your care.

So staying in control of the health of the herd is something you strive for. You put in your best efforts to prevent any trouble – for the love of your cows, for the sake of a good herd and for the continuity of your family legacy.

This is what I like to describe as ‘the dairy culture’. You need to have that love for the cadence of the day, the demands of taking care of animals and be comfortable with an 80-hour week.  

It’s this attitude – and the day-to-day behavior that springs from it, 24/7 – that means dairy farmers love their lifestyle ... despite the workload.

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