Monday, 27 June 2016

Our milk farm

So these days you frequently read all these horror stories about how farmers treat the calves and the cows and how they are never together and all that type of stuff. I know that for quite some farms this is fully true. But not for all. 







I want to show you how things work at the farm where we buy our milk. How they treat the cows and their calves. And this is quite different than what the horror stories are all about.

The calves at the farm where we go spend their time in the stables. We always have a look at them when we get milk. They love being stroked and love the attention. They are lovely and very social. The calves are always with others in one of the stables, as they really do love the company. It is fascinating to see how curious they are. They are also careful, but really do come to us, be it is slowly and carefully. They are so friendly!

Several times a day the mothers come to the calves. They then feed the babies. From what I have seen happening it means that the calves drink directly from the udder. Once the calves have had their fill the mothers go on to the milking area if that is still necessary. 

From what I have understood from the farmer is that not all cows want to feed calves. So when it happens that a mother cow doesn't want to feed a calf, they find another cow who is the type that will feed two calves.



The farmers also explained to us that they find that calves are much healthier when they are udder-fed. They have found that calves that are bottle fed are much more frequently ill. Even if it is the milk from their own mother. Sometimes they have had to do this when there was no mother cow available to feed two calves. So they do know what they are talking about.

This post will have so many more photos than text I'm afraid, simply as the photos really do speak for themselves. It is always really interesting to be there and watch was is all happening on the farm.
 Above, to the right and below you see a series of photos that I made from a calf feeding from the mother cow. It shows very clearly what the calf is doing, so you can really see that this is actually really happening at the farm where we get our milk.




I really enjoy watching the cows and the calves together. When feeding time is eminent both cows and calves are making noises, plus the cows want to go to the calves and the make an effort to get there. The farmer doesn't have to do much about it, other than open the doors of the stables in which the calves are. Once they are bigger they go to the field as well, but in the time they are young they keep them warm in the stables. The calves are very calm in the stables, they just lay and sleep until the cows arrive, unless we are there to get their attention, then they get up and come to us for a cuddle.

I remember learning in school that most herbivores, such as deer, always had their young laying in safe places, away from the world, while their mothers were eating in other areas. I expect this to be similar with the cows and calves as it looks very similar. The calves being so calm and nicely tucked way in the straw while the cows are out on the pasture and coming to the calves to feed them. 






See these lovely pictures on the left and right. There are 2 calves with this cow.







One of these calves has a mum who doesn't want to feed a calf, so the farmer got this cow to adopt the calf to substitute for its mum. It has worked out very well as you can see in the pictures. 





To the left you see a series of picture of the path the cows are taking to get back to the stables and go in for milking.

The pasture you see in the back, they have a lot of pasture room, as it is also behind the trees. The cows change pasture regularly so they get fresh grass very frequently. The stables that you saw earlier in the pictures with the calves are to the left of my pictures of the path the cows take. So the pastures are right next to the stables. These cows are very often outside. Unless the weather is really really bad they go outside, also in winter, simply as the cows need it. It keeps them healthier.

At the bottom picture you see the big chickens that are always walking around on the farm. You can find them everywhere.

This farm is actually Meadow Cottage Farm (Blackburn & Hayes) in Headly, Bordon (GU35 8SS) in Hampshire, UK. They are easy to reach. If you would like to order milk from this farm, you'll have to order by phone on 01428-712 155


I hope you have enjoyed my ramblings. Feel free to comment or ask a question. I'd love to hear from you.



Have a great day!