“What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, man would die from a great loneliness of spirit. For whatever happens to the beats also happens to the man. All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth also befalls the sons of the earth.”
The words were written by a North American Indian and posted on the gate of a large beef ranch. Dr. Gerald Stokka, veterinarian and North Dakota State University Extension livestock stewardship expert, used it as an example of why dairy farmers need to practice good stewardship during the regional Dairy Cow College.
About 20 area dairy farmers attended the event held at Ag Country Farm Credit Services and sponsored by the Barnes County office of the NDSU Extension Service.
Stokka engaged the crowd while speaking about how important caring for cattle, both dairy and beef as well as the land was important to raising healthy animals as well as making a profit.
Stokka placed an emphasis on animal husbandry as it applied to caring for calves in the first few hours after birth, particularly how to ensure calf health by providing enough colostrum immediately after birth. By providing sufficient colostrum, farmers and ranchers can ward off illnesses such as scours and pneumonia in the early years of life, according to Stokka.
While Stokka focused on stewardship, NDSU Extension dairy specialist J.W. Schroder discussed nutrition with farmers, explaining how to get the best in nutrition, particularly protein, to ensure maximum milk production. Schroder also taught farmers how to reduce feed waste and how to effectively manage employees.
The Dairy Cow College, a joint effort by NDSU Extension and the Midwest Dairy Association also gave MDA representatives an opportunity to update members on how their checkoff dollars were being used to promote dairy and how MDA programs were being used to promote dairy consumption.
The Dairy Checkoff is a dairy program in which producers put money into a fund, and the checkoff, in turn, pays for market research and promotional campaigns that focus on dairy products that include yogurt, cheese, and fluid milk.
Programs such as “Got Milk?,” “Play 360” and the “Got Milk? Breakfast Blitz” are just a few of the checkoff’s promotions.
The Breakfast Blitz is a program that encourages kids to have a milk rich breakfast and offers incentives, including money for schools, for buying milk. Currently the Valley City Public Schools is participating in the Breakfast Blitz. Until Feb. 17, when consumers buy milk, they can vote online to help the school win a $1,000 Fuel Up to Play 60 grant. Participants can log on to www.MilkMoustashe.com  for a chance to win prizes including a trip to the 2014 Super Bowl.
Midwest Dairy representatives also described how companies like McDonalds and Domino’s Pizza have helped keep milk sales high.
McDonalds is estimated to purchase an additional 1.7 billion pounds of milk in the next three years for their new chocolate milk, which can be included in Happy Meals, and for their coffee drinks, many of which are milk rich.
And, thanks to companies like Dominoes, cheese sales have increased almost 700 million pounds since 2009, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. About 25 percent of all cheese produced by U.S. dairy farmers ends up on cheese, according to one representative who pointed out that it takes 10 lbs. of fluid milk to make one pound of cheese.
Dairy Cow Colleges were held throughout the state last week, and included regional meetings of the Midwest Dairy Association and Milk Producers Association District meetings.