Q: Do you raise the cows on pasture? Where are the cows raised?
A: Our cows are on pasture year round with the option to go inside for shelter from extreme weather conditions. Calves are small, which makes them an easy target for predators; therefore, they are raised inside a barn during the winter months and in outside pens with hutches for shelter, which are close to the barn during the warmer months.
Q: What do you feed the cows?
A: Our cows are fed a pure vegetarian diet. They are fed a mixture of haylage (fermented grass) and Corn silage (fermented corn). During the warmer months they also have access to fresh grass, and leaves from trees. During the winter months we have seen them eating or chewing on branches from Birch trees. They are also fed grain and have access to minerals blocks.
Calves are fed milk that comes from the cows not a bag, and after eight weeks they are weaned from milk are given water. They also receive hay and grain. Cows are like any animal, they need to have a balanced diet for complete nutrition and health, and therefore you can’t feed dairy cows only grass and hay without taking a health risk; especially when they are working very hard making milk and/or growing.
Q: Do you give the cows any hormones?
A: We do not use rBST (recombinant Bovine Somatotropin) rBGH (recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone), a hormone used to make the animals grow and/or make more milk than they naturally would. Every now and then we have a cow come in to be milked and she is not able to let her milk down and we will give her Oxytocin (the milk let down hormone). If a cow is left un-milked it can cause many different problems which may cause the animal to become sick and possible die. We use this hormone less than once a year. Hormones are naturally in milk and that is why it is impossible to test for the artificial hormones.
Q: Do you give the animals antibiotics?
A: It is illegal to sell milk that contains antibiotics therefore any milk that you purchase wherever you purchase it, is antibiotic free. We never feed and/or give them antibiotics as a preventative or when not needed, they only receive antibiotics when needed. If an animal gets sick or injured we may give antibiotics if other options have failed. If an animal requires surgery post-op antibiotics are usually required. We are a small family farm and our animals are hand raised. We become very attached to them and treat them the way dog owners treat their pets. We do the best that we can for them for as long as possible. We will not let a cow suffer and die or be sent to slaughter when a simple course of drug therapy will allow her to be cured. Yes, it may be economically better for us to just get rid of the cow than to take care of her and “dump” her milk until the drug residue is no longer present, but we just can’t be that kind of farm.
Q: How long do the cows stay in your herd? A: Our cows live to be between the ages of 10-15 years. This is for two reasons one is their breed and the other is we do not over work the cows. Our cows are Ayrshire dairy cattle, known for hardiness and longevity. We don’t give them artificial hormones to make them make more milk therefore stressing them out more and wearing their bodies down. They are able to go outside on soft ground and don’t live on cement their entire lives which can cause stress on their legs weakening them. We work very hard to balance their diets and employ good, sound veterinary practices so that they will have not only long lives, but comfortable healthy ones as well.