Favorite California Dairy

Pumped about my new shirt from Maddox Dairy!! A shout out to my favorite California dairy with the happiest cows!! @sdmaddox


Yesterday I diversified my agriculture perspective touring the Sun Pacific Packing Facility where I learned how oranges and kiwis are processed as whole fruit. The facility on average exports 30 loads of oranges a day, 1,000 boxes per load which sell for $15-16 a box mostly to Korea & Japan! The oranges that don’t make the cut for human consumption get fed to livestock and this particular facility on average sends out 100,000 oranges a day for that purpose.

The kiwis are marketed domestically for the most part and they ship about 1,000 boxes of kiwis a day with each box selling anywhere from $16-20 a box. Kiwi can also be sold for livestock feed but not near as much since the kiwis can also be sent to a juicing facility not far from the packing plant.

The biggest difference about the orange and kiwi process is that kiwis are sorted by weight, and oranges by size. Beyond that both fruits go through a cleaning procedure on equipment that’s cleaned daily. The oranges are also measured for acid and sugar content with high tech equipment from Japan.

I recently moved back to South Dakota from California.  My dad and I drove over 1,948 miles.  The last time I reset my mileage was in Caruthers, CA!  This fall I am planning to work on my family’s dairy, and from there decide whether or not I want to head off to graduate school.  It will be an adventure, that’s for sure!  Soon I will finish blogging about the amazing experiences I had in California.  The last few weeks flew by faster than I could blog!  Now, adjusting back to SD life is busy already too!  So by the end of next week I hope to have a few more videos and posts about my time with Maddox Dairy.    

Dealing with Dairy Bulls!

 This topic has been near and dear to my leg since this last Tuesday when a ten to eleven month old bull kicked me!  Thankfully it was JUST my leg J.  To put your mind at ease, I assure you I am fine and the leg is hurting a bit, but healing well.  In fact, I am sort of ashamed to even write such a story because I grew up around cattle and know how they behave.  But that just goes to show that cattle are dangerous – especially bulls.  No matter how much experience you think you have, you must be careful.  So here’s my story.  As an intern on Maddox Dairy, I wanted (and still want) to get a lot of hands on experience and that is just what I was doing.  At ten forty in the morning I climbed back behind the headlocks to give four bulls their shots.  I went up to the first two bulls and jacked up their tails so they couldn’t kick and gave them their shots just fine. (If you are unfamiliar with tail jacking see the FYI below.) Then I did that same to the third bull, jacking his tail up in the air so he couldn’t kick me.  With his tail in one hand and the syringe in the other I gave him the first shot in his right flank.  Then I stepped back to reload the syringe for his left flank.  I jacked his tail one more time and started giving him the shot.  Then all of the sudden he started to dance around, my grip weakened, and before I could move – BAM!  It happened fast!  He got his shot and I guess you could say I got mine!  So now I have a nice big bruise on my left quad muscle.  Hence, I chose to write about safety around bulls.  As an animal handler on a daily basis at the dairy, I know the benefit of understanding cattle behavior patterns. (Even if I did get kicked this week. ;))  Behavioral patterns of cattle are heavily relied upon not only for safety of the animals, but also for safety of the handlers.  They are also indicators of the health and well-being of the cattle too.

            Bulls are considered one of the most dangerous domestic animals.  There are many breeds, sizes and dispositions, but none of them should be trusted.  Temple Grandin, a world-renowned animal behavior expert wrote a short article called Preventing Bull Accidents.  In it I found out that, “The most dangerous dairy bull is a bull that has not been properly socialized to his own kind. When a young bull calf becomes mature at age two, he needs to challenge the top bull in the herd. If the bull calf has been raised alone and has not had the opportunity to interact with other cattle, he thinks he is a person and he wants to exert his dominance over the “herd”. This can result in dangerous attacks on people.” I encourage you to read that whole article at the link below.  Her expertise makes a lot of sense and it goes to show how important it is that anyone handling bulls understands their behavioral patterns.

            I enlisted the help of Jack Albright’s Hoard’s Dairyman article, Why and How to Read a Cow or Bull, to help explain bull behavior.  Bull’s specific behavior patterns can be a display of threats, a challenge, or a territorial activity and who would have guessed these activities flow from one to the other! The display of a threat is the broadside display of a bull’s body; this means that something or someone has invaded his space (anywhere within twenty feet of him).  He will show his body broadside for his greatest profile, showing how powerful he is.  Then his head will go down and if the fight is what he decides to pursue he will start shaking his head, protruding his eyeballs and the hair on his back will stand erect.  A direct threat is a bit different; he will stand head-on to the opponent with his head lowered, shoulders hunched and neck curved to the side toward the opponent.  He may also paw with his front feet, making dirt fly or start rubbing the ground and horning it too.

If a bull does display any of these threatening signs to any opponent, another bull or person, and the bull or person slowly moves at least twenty feet away, the encounter may pass and the bull may turn away.  If not, the bull will circle the opponent, and basically charge.  At the first sign of any threatening behavior, humans should avoid the bull and obviously exit ASAP!  If you go into a pen with bulls make sure you have a quick, predetermined exit route.  Accidents are not always preventable but when you know behavior patterns and heed their warnings the incidence can be less.

Other important things to remember:

Proper bull handling facilities should be installed before bringing bulls on a farm.

Signs should be posted for visitors and employees where bulls are present.

Keep all inexperienced individuals away from and out of pens with bulls.

Bulls showing any sign of aggression should be sent away as soon as possible.

You should never turn your back to a bull. You can’t read his behavior when he is behind you.

A bull should never get a second chance no matter how good he might be.

Most importantly learn and know bull behavior patterns.  It could save your life, or someone else’s that you love.

Experienced, brave, fast, and daring people die in bull accidents; if you remember anything from this article remember that handling bulls is very serious business.  In 2010, a bull killed a woman in central Minnesota while she was just out moving cattle with her husband one evening.  She left behind several kids and her husband.

 FYI: Tail jacking is similar to the act of pressing your opponents head down in a fight so I they can’t throw a punch at you, or kick you!  All you do is push the bovines tail straight in the air; it doesn’t hurt them it just prevents them from kicking you; at least it is supposed to J.



Take a look into Maddox Dairy through my video blog. A great farm, great family, lots of great people. This is my second video, week two. Just shows you around the place a little more and a few other things too. Hope you enjoy! 🙂 Something not in the video, the calves are fed milk twice a day as well as grain three times a day.  Any questions email me at schweerana@gmail.com or use the ask me anything button.

Cleaning all over the farm happens everyday.  From the milking parlor, sand bedded freestalls to the bulk tank.  However earlier today I cleaned the calf barn floors, which is done everyday.  Then when I got home today I had to clean my kitchen, bathroom, vacuum the carpet and and sweep the patio outside!  Cleaning chores are sometimes things we all dread doing.  But farmers do them day in and day out to ensure the product leaving their farm is worthy of you and your family’s consumption.  Thank you Lord for creating a broom/dustpan, a hose, a pair of glove, rubber boots and two hands and feet to work with!  

Today the high temperature at Maddox Dairy was over 100!  But just because the weather gets hot doesn’t mean farmers take a break.  Even in smokin’ weather here’s a typical day of raising calves on the farm.  Everything gets rolling bright and early at 5:30 a.m.  First the calves are given fresh grain.  Then they are bedded with wood chips.  Next the calves get very exited because they know their milk (out of two feedings) is coming!  In preparation, the milk is brought over from the pasteurizer inside the machine you see above, the mooooving milk tank (not to be confused with a cow ;)) If more milk is needed than what’s been given from the cow hospital, a 20% fat and 20% protein milk replacer and hot water are added to make up the difference.  A 2X High Potency Vitamin Mixture and Bovamine are also mixed in the milk to give the calves an extra edge for health and growth purposes.  Beyond those two mixtures calves under 21 days of age are given an antibacterial, called NeoMed 325, in the milk to support good health.  Next a refractometer measures the milk for consistent and adequate solids (milkfat and protein).  Then when the milk is between 105 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit, we can start feeding!  The calves are fed certain quantities of milk according to their age.  So as they get older, they receive more.  Following the milk, calves are also given Dairy Lyte Electrolytes every morning in the summer.  Regardless of how many calves, they are all fed in the same order every day.  Calves only receive a bottle for three days, and on day four are trained to a bucket.  As the calves are being fed, Nato, the calf manager checks each calf (yes, all now 900 of them).  If he finds a sick calf, he will leave a sign for it to be checked and then it will be treated as soon as possible.  Jesus and Nato treat the sick calves.  After feeding, Jesus and Nato walk through the barns and by all of the hutches looking for signs of sickness such as heavy breathing, which could be pneumonia, and treat the calves accordingly.  They make a note of the date and what they treated the calf with on each calf’s paper (as you see above to the right in the ‘Hey baby!’ photo).  They also write down the date, the treatment and the calf’s herd number in a notebook.  Later Nato and Jesus fill out a daily calf report that will be put into the herd DHI plus computer records system.  Calves are also on a strict vaccination schedule, allowing them to build their immune system for a healthy and strong future.  Beyond all of that, calves ready for weaning are moved into new pens together.  During down times of the day cleaning as well as daily maintenance of the equipment, barns and hutches takes place.  Lastly, with the hot weather, water is given as many times as needed by the reliable, Gustavo, pictured above.