Dairy Farming: Donald Mackinson - Pontiac, Illinois

Published: Nov. 30, 2021 at 11:21 AM CST
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(25 NEWS) - What I love about living on a farm is raising livestock.

I had a chance to talk to dairy farmer Don Makinson from Pontiac, Illinois. His family farm has been around since 1895.

“My great-grandpa came to Illinois in 1865. We’ve been on this farm here since 1895.

We farm all of our grand - my great-grandparent’s farmland. We were milking cows at this facility since August 29th of 1975, and my brother, Roy and I have been here since we got out of high school. We’re full partnership with Roy, myself and my son, Matthew, who has been here since he graduated from college.

The love of the cows and the land, I wanted to be kind of be my own boss and on the dairy farm, there’s always something different going on, like today, the different things we’ve done today with the cows, with the land being muddy, we can’t do corn or beans.

So right now we’re standing in the barn cover all where the cows are free to roam and walk around the barn anytime they want and never tied up.

They sleep in the sand, which is like laying on the beach. We put new sand in the stalls and we break the stalls twice a day after we scrape the manure down, and the cows are pretty much content.

In winter time we close the curtains, cows love cold weather. The ideal temperature for a cow is about 50 degrees. The hot weather, you’re 190 degree humid days are not good for cows, so just the production is down and they don’t do as good there.

So you can see they’re just roaming around behind me. Cows are very curious. they love to get their ears scratched, and that’s what you want to see -- is a happy cow.

We have a farm program. Farmers are sharing proper management, responsible management of their animals. We don’t hit them. We treat them right. We have a sick cow. Yes, we treat them with antibiotics to make a healthy cow.

Our milk has no antibiotics in it. Our milk is tested before it is put into the food chain.

And as everybody knows, milk is the most tested product there is. Not because we have to, because we want to, and we want to assure that our milk itself is healthy as it can be and safest.

And when we treat or when we have to treat a cow for antibiotics with antibiotics, we put red duct tape around their legs and there are milk separate. Their milk is discarded and done away with. We are very careful. And if we even think one of these cows has gone into the milk tank, we stop milking immediately and run a test on our own tank to see whether it’s OK.

Each and every one of our ingredients the cows eat -- we start with and we mix and we use our baled hay and we put corn gluten -- a corn byproduct from corn after they take the sweeteners and things out of it -- then we go with a vitamin and mineral path -- it’s got vitamins, minerals and soybeans. It makes their diet a little bit richer and we go with corn silage, which is corn ground up in little pieces. And then we also put a little bit more hay in it. Chop wet hay. It’s mixed up. And just like your mixmaster are, all our feed goes like a mixed mass. There’s just a huge mix master with cows. We put it all blended together. And that’s the way they like it.

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