Jared Kushner Meeting With Senate Intelligence Committee, Keeping Cows Happy, Democratic Messaging

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Back scratchers, misters, and other measures help keep cows happy and result in more milk production. We talk to a UW researcher about why this is and hear from an award winning cheesemaker about how she keeps her dairy cows feeling content. We also discuss senior White House advisor Jared Kushner’s closed-door meeting today on his contacts with Russian officials. Plus, a guest says that for success in next year’s elections, the Democratic party may not need the unified message they’re actively seeking.

Featured in this Show

  • What Happened In Jared Kushner's Closed Door Meeting With Senate Intelligence Committee In Closed Door Meeting

    On Monday Jared Kushner appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee in a closed-door meeting about his contacts with Russian officials. President Trump’s senior advisor and son-in-law released written marks before the meeting denying any improper contacts or collusion. We talk to a reporter about what happened during the meeting.

  • Investments In Happy Cows Yielding More Milk

    UW-Madison’s Dairyland Initiative is helping farmers around the state maximize milk production by keeping their animals stress-free. We talk with the head of the project about why a happy cow makes more milk. A Wisconsin farmstead cheesemaker is also with us to discuss the practices in her barn, which she calls the “Cow Spa.”

  • Experts: The Happier The Cow The Better The Milk

    There’s a reason visitors say Marieke Penterman runs a “cow spa.” Her barn in Thorp, Wisconsin is different from the rest.

    Sand bedding. Air ventilators. Large, rotating “cow brushes” give animals a nice back scratch.

    “The barn is completely designed for the comfort of the cow,” Penterman said.

    She calls it a “freestyle barn,” which means the cows can walk freely about. And the Wisconsin-based champion cheesemaker firmly believes the happier the cow, the better the milk — and therefore, the better the cheese.

    Local experts say a cow’s happiness really does make all the difference.

    “I think you have to remember that cows are metabolic athletes, so they need to be pampered if they’re gonna perform like Olympic champions,” said Nigel Cook, a professor in food animal production medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Veterinary Medicine.

    Cook is also head of the university’s Dairyland Initiative, a program that assists farmers in keeping dairy cows happy and maximizing milk production through barn design and herd management.

    He said research into what makes a cow happy is fairly new, over the last 10 years or so its evolved. These evolving standards have changed the way many farmers think about dairy farming.

    “We’ve asked the cow more about what she needs, and when she’s told us what she wants,” he said. “We’ve really got a great group of producers out there who have been really willing to take the information, put it into place and see the results.”

    But how does one talk to a cow? Through research.

    Cook and his colleagues have tracked dry matter intake, closely monitored health records and milk production, and used video cameras for behavior-based research.

    The result, he said, is a barn designed around the cow. Today, the Dairyland Initiative has developed online resources and a training program, and heard feedback through direct consultations with farmers.

    Every barn has a different situation, so a set up like Penterman’s may not work for everyone. But it tackles major areas that can make a difference in the cow’s comfort, she said.

    For example, cows can overheat much faster than humans, Cook said. The ventilators address this.

    “If the cow doesn’t feel good, you will taste it right away in the milk,” Penterman said. “So for us it’s very important to make sure our ladies are taken well care of… It’s not the cold weather, it’s the heat they are struggling the most with.”

    Cook said cows like predictability, so having the room to eat in a group of familiar faces can increase stability.

    “Ten years ago we made sure the roof didn’t collapse when the snow came down,” he said. “Now we’re smarter than that.”

  • Democrats May Not Need New Messaging To Win In 2018

    Critics within and outside of the Democratic party say Dems need to figure out what they’re for, not just what they’re against. But our guest today says midterm elections are usually a simple referendum on the party in power.

Episode Credits

  • Veronica Rueckert Host
  • Amanda Magnus Producer
  • Dean Knetter Producer
  • Veronica Rueckert Producer
  • Kyle Cheney Guest
  • Nigel Cook Guest
  • Marieke Penterman Guest
  • Graham Vyse Guest

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