Happy Cows vs. Picture-Perfect Cows

by kirstin on October 29, 2010

Jersey Cow

Jersey Cow

There was a bit of a backlash to a recent story I wrote for the LA Times, called “Artisan cheese-making brings them a new slice of life.” It wasn’t concerning the topic, the farmer’s stories, or inaccuracies in the article, the issue was about the cow in the photo. Some readers were convinced that she was on death’s door.

Because of  reader reaction, the Humane Society paid a visit to the Bianchi-Moreda’s Valley Ford farm.

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Lady The Cow

The Bianchi-Moredas thought nothing of taking a picture with Lady, the cow in the photo. They were proud of her. Cheesemaker Karen Bianchi-Moreda calls her “one of my girls, ” and boasts that she has won numerous awards in fairs across the state. And, although some say she has the spirit of a cow four years younger, she looks a little more frail than the average heifer wandering around a dairy farm. She is also a Jersey, a very angular breed that weighs 500 pounds less than the average female milking black and white cow (Holstein) featured on milk carton pictures.

Is this a case of reader’s expecting to see a plump cow that they see in pictures who’ve never visited a farm? I wasn’t certain. After responding to reader letters, I found that some of reader’s families grew up on farms with different cow breeds, so they had quite a bit of experience with farm animals, but they didn’t know what Jerseys looked like. Others were animal lovers concerned about jutting rib bones.

Want to get more of the back story about what the Humane Society found out when they visited the farm? Read about it here. LA Times Editor Russ Parsons blogs about reader reaction.

How many of us might make think the same about the photo? What does this mean to you?

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