July 1, 2019

Mouth Watering Goodness

By John & Joan Maxwell
Cinnamon Ridge Farms

Fresh squeaky cheese curds, cheesy lasagna, an ice cream cone—what makes your mouth water? Every day, twice a day, our high-producing milk cows at Cinnamon Ridge Dairy look forward to a delicious banquet of TMR (total mix ration) designed just for their taste buds and complete nutritional needs. They eagerly line up to munch on the freshly mixed TMR, which is mixed in large batches according to a precise recipe formulated by our herd nutritionist. Some ingredients may be what you’d expect cows to love: grain, soybean meal, hay, and corn silage. You might be surprised, however, by others, such as coffee creamer and cottonseed.

Coffee creamer delights a cow’s sweet tooth but is also a great source of energy. We purchase expired dry coffee creamer from a manufacturer in southern Illinois. The coffee creamer is put into large bags and placed on a pallet, each weighing one ton. A semi full of pallets is delivered to us. Each milking cow gets about 1.5 pounds per “meal,” so we add about 350 pounds of dry coffee creamer to the mix.

While we’ve only been including coffee creamer in the cows’ ration for a few years, we have been feeding cottonseed for its nutritional benefits to our milking cows for over 20 years. After harvesting, the cotton is ginned, which separates the seeds from the cotton. We purchase these seeds by the semi load and store it in a three-sided building, aptly named the cottonseed building. When they were younger, my daughters found this to be a great place to play. They’d climb all the way to the top of the pile and pack down areas under the rafters. Sometimes a barn cat or two would be requisitioned to play with them, a few loved the attention, while most made a quick escape as soon as possible. The cottonseed pile was very comfortable, almost spongy. One daughter made a pet pillow stuffed with cottonseed for her Invent Iowa project. My girls also discovered they could sled down the large pile, although the ride was very brief, it was fast and fun.

One day my daughters decided they wanted to try to ski down the cottonseed pile, despite not yet knowing how to ski or owning any skis and ski boots. Undeterred, they set about making a pair. For hours they labored with a hand saw cutting points onto two 1x6s. They hammered in a few small nails and added twine for bindings. Finally, the big moment came, with the younger daughter taking the first ski run down the cottonseed pile. As the skis began to slide down, my daughter lost her balance and rolled down with two boards flailing. As she tried to stand at the bottom, the left “ski” broke in half. The girls decided they’d save skiing for snow with proper equipment. Years later the right “ski” was used to repair part of the barn. I frequently see it and smile with the fun my daughters had in that endeavor.

While cows love our TMR, you can find lots of mouth-watering goodness—prize-winning beef, cheese, and baked goods—available in our self-service store, the Cinnamon Ridge Country Cupboard. You can also find our products at the I-80 truckstop, Gramma’s Kitchen restaurant, Machine Shed restaurant, and North Scott Foods.

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