COW — Helena De Paep

Autonomous Context  2021—2022

What do you know about the cow?

There is much criticism of dairy farming. And all that criticism is not always true.

In this book, I focus on the cow, more specifically on the cows in the farm of my parents Korenheie-Holsteins who own 120 dairy cows and 300 clubs. Where I have made a selection of all animals. The photos are all in black and white because the life of a cow is not always colourful. You can look at the book from two sides. On the one hand, you see the beautiful images of the animals in their living environment; on the other hand, you see the hard data about the animal, which confirms that they are only animals that give milk and give offspring to the farmer.

In my opinion, the cow, just like the human being, is unique and has characteristics. In my parents’ farm, each animal is treated with the greatest care. They know each animal by name and its offspring. But we must not forget that these animals have to produce milk every day, just like small factories, and if they no longer do so, the farmer cannot do his job. To avoid this, the dairy farmer needs a lot of information about his animals and predecessors. In the past, the dairy farmer was less concerned with such matters and it was just milking cows with smaller quantities.   These animals also lived much shorter lives than today’s animals. Nowadays, one goes for the perfect match between the cows and looks for the perfect bull. They look at DNA to develop a calf that is strong, gives a lot of milk, is healthy and lives longer than the previous generation. Cows that are ready to bear a calf are incubated by the farmer or a veterinarian. Artificial insemination in animals (AI) is a livestock technique to achieve fertilisation by inserting sperm with a syringe into the uterus or cervix of a mammal. The word insemination refers to the word semen, which means seed. A bull does not come along to cover the cow. A cow is pregnant for approximately 283 days (nine months and ten days) until calving. And so a new life is born on the farm, which in turn continues the future for the farmer.