A heifer is a female bovine (as opposed to a bull or a steer, which are
the males), a young cow that has not yet given birth. First-calf heifers (heifers that have given birth to
once) can produce 2-3 gallons of milk a day. Eventually, after
subsequent births, they can produce over 4 gallons a day, which is
plenty for a family to use and still have enough left over to sell.
Garden Harvest places only first-calf or older heifers, so that the
families gain the benefit of fresh milk right away.
The value of milk in the growth of children and health of adults is
universally known. Milk is the most absorbable source of calcium,
which is essential for strong bones and teeth. A recent U.S. study
reported January 2004 by NBC news, shows that when the consumption of
soft drinks replaces milk as a beverage, childhood bone fractures
increase 62% for girls and 41% for boys. There is evidence as well
that lack of milk in a child's diet significantly increases the risk of
osteoporosis as an adult.
Calcium is just one of milk's many benefits. It contains all
the essential amino acids needed for protein, to build and maintain
healthy cells in the body. It is also a rich source of many vitamins.
Besides its use as a beverage, cows' milk is used to make yogurt,
many types of cheese, and ice cream. It is also universally used
as a nutritional additive to many different dishes. And since the
cow produces so much milk, the family can sell that which they don't
consume to have income to pay for medicine, clothing, fuel for heat, and
When placing a heifer with a family, we make sure to obtain the local
species, adapted to the region. For example, longhorn heifers are more
suitable for hot, dry climates like India than are Herefords.
Role in a sustainable farm: Cows mow pasture and produce ample fertilizer for
crops. Cow manure is the fertilizer most used the world over to
fertilize land. It has just the right proportion of the three
major nutrients - nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash - needed to raise