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Dairy owner responds to letter

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POSTED July 25, 2013 12:22 a.m.

Editor, Manteca Bulletin,

I would like to bring to your attention the letter that Mr. Du Clair wrote in response to the letter published on July 22, 2013, headlined “Manteca dairy compared to concentration camps.”

What was an innocent picture, published for the sake of cuteness and to fill space in your paper, has been tainted by an ignorant reader, who has made an egregious mistake by comparing our family farm to the concentration camps in Germany, and you, as the editor, should have known better than to publish such an offensive letter, that is an offense to the victims of the Holocaust, to their family members, and to me, to my husband, to my son, and to our family business.

Had Mr. Du Clair come to my door and raised his concerns about the welfare of our animals, I would have gladly educated him on what goes on a farm. What was an innocent picture of our son helping his Dad on our family farm, something that he absolutely loves, has made him now feel that he has done something wrong. It makes my blood boil when Mr. Du Clair and the editor of the Manteca Bulletin, have no concept of what running a dairy farm is like.

We are a family dairy, a legitimate business entity. We treat our animals with care, for we depend on their well-being for our livelihood. The calves being raised in the calf pens are being raised to replace the older cows on the dairy, and not for veal consumption. They are kept in the pens for their protection and well being. A baby heifer needs to be kept clean, dry, and fed. They are born without an immune system. They need to be fed colostrums for about three days in order for their immune system to develop. Even though they are separated from the mother, they are still fed the antibiotic-rich milk that the mother produces, and they are kept dry, clean, and protected from the elements. They do have room to move around, and are not just on a “liquid diet.” As mammals, they are fed milk in one of those “liquid feed bowls’ and when they are three weeks old, they start to nibble on solids and milk, is fed until the calf is weaned off the milk, and then, when her rumen (her stomach) is able to digest the solids-such as grain and hay-then she is transferred to a pen, where she can withstand the heat and cold, and can run loose without being a hazard to herself and to the other animals.

The well-being of our calves is a time and money consuming investment. But one that is worth the time and money. Each baby heifer, upon reaching maturity, is worth $1,500 or more depending on the market, and in her lifetime, she will bring to the dairy farm $13,500 or more.

When Mr. Du Clair drove by and saw some old and broken calf pens, he immediately assumed that our animals were being mistreated. The opposite is the truth. In these difficult times, when many dairy businesses are going out of business, we are putting all of our resources into feed for our animals. The appearance of our dairy is a vanity that we cannot afford to bother with at the moment. Right now, we are focused on making a living for our family, and staying in business is how we make our living. We treat our animals as if they are our family members. We live our lives around their schedule. My husband works 12 hour days, everyday, and at the end of the month our check is not enough to cover all of our bills. We are a legitimate business entity. We pay our taxes. We are in compliance with the Regional Water Board and the San Joaquin Air Quality Pollution. We contribute to the economy by providing jobs and by providing goods to the consumers. We are a family dairy business. We are raising our children in this business, which we love, and we are teaching them the value of hard work, the respect for our animals, and hard earned value of a dollar.

And so, when I saw that my son was in the paper, I was proud of him, and so was he when I showed him the picture of him doing what he enjoys doing. I find that it is better to have my son out in the dairy, helping to feed the baby animals and bonding with his Dad, instead of having him parked in front of the television playing video games all day long.

I hope that Mr. Du Clair’s opinion does not reflect the opinions of your readers.

Sarah Brasil
July 23, 2013

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