Our cows are all sorts of shades of red, brown, fawn and black and some even look spotty or splodgy. That’s because we farm with what’s called a Mixed Breed Herd made up of British Friesians, Shorthorn Ayrshires, Normande, Montbeliarde, Swiss Brown and Swedish Reds. It’s a gentle, ethical and traditional approach to dairying and it suits organic farming well. Our mix of cows results in a herd with a mellow nature. Our cows calve easily and enjoys a long life span. And most importantly to us the female and male calves are both of value on the farm. Many dairies achieve a high milk yield by using a Holstein herd but we know our way has the animal’s welfare as #1 priority so we’re quite happy to swap lower milk yields for the wellbeing of our cows.
Life is pretty simple and has a steady routine. For most of the year our cows are outside day and night. First milking takes place early morning and then it’s out to graze again. Given that many of our meadows are on steep hills, there’s usually a picturesque view of the countryside to be enjoyed between mouthfuls. Second milking is early afternoon before a relaxing evening out on the land. In wintertime, if it’s cold and wet our cows hang out in a purpose-built, open side barn with plenty of fresh air and comfy stalls for eating or resting. On winter nights they are always kept inside for warmth and comfort.
A typical day in Devon starts with heavy dew on the grass and a light early morning mist. This level of moisture in the air, combined with a generally mild climate means that our lush pastures grow abundantly for most of the year. During the winter months, rainfall can be high and the days chilly, so on the worst day between November and March our cows stay in a modern, open-sided barn eating organic silage made from our grass and munching on organic veg. It’s a good life!
It’s a bit like coleslaw for cows. Made from grass that’s cut green and then fermented, it’s both nutritious and delicious. Our cows only eat organic silage grown on our own land.
Gourmet dining down on the farm 😉