For all good farmers their animals are the most important thing in their loves. Our cows are no exception.
It is our job to ensure that they are as happy and healthy as they possibly can be. Happy cows produce the best milk and they do it sustainably. Nearly all of our cows are Holsteins and we can trace the parents back on some of the cows all the way to 1964!
Holstein cows originated in Holland and are renowned for their ability to efficiently produce large volumes of milk. This makes them a very sustainable breed to choose especially to produce drinking milk as they produce more milk by feeding less! Holsteins do need a little more looking after but we are more than happy to provide the extra care! They are a little larger than other breeds, black & white and often pretty spotty.
The cows are all housed during the cold winter months; not even cows like standing in the rain or walking through muddy gateways although they like the heat and humidity less! Throughout the year cows are separated into groups based on their dietary requirements, just like humans different cows need different food.
We aim to produce milk as sustainably a possible and this means making the most of the land you have available to feed the cows. The reality of this is that we try to grow crops in all the fields that we can and utilise the grass grown in other fields. A good example of these grasslands is the the river land that we farm, Due to it’s natural flooding every year it is impossible to grow crops but is a fantastic location for wildlife to flourish and cows to graze when it isn’t flooded!
The cows are milked through a 32 point rotary parlour by a team of 5 dedicated stockmen who take care of the cows. Milking takes around 3 to 4 hours and occurs three times a day! We sell approximately 11,000 litres per day is collected by a tanker in the early hours of the morning and following pasteurisation by Arla Foods it hits Tesco shelves the following day.
We are part of the Tesco Sustainable Dairy Group which means that we work collaboratively with Tesco to ensure that our cows and calves have the highest welfare possible and that we are constantly driving increased efficiency and sustainability. We are proud of our relationship with Tesco and to be one of the ~750 dedicated Tesco dairy farms.
Look out for the TSDG label on your milk!
Cows will spend over two thirds of their day either resting or eating. The rest of the time is spent sleeping, in and around the milking parlour and socialising!
Cows are herd animals and hang around in groups. If you see a cow that has isolated herself it is a sure sign she is a little under the weather and feeling sorry for herself! They feel safe and content when they are around other cows. They socialize throughout the day by eating in groups, standing around the water trough together and licking each other.
They are very hierarchical and establish a pecking order within the herd pretty quickly. This impacts all sorts of things such as the order they come onto the milking parlour, where they stand to eat and where they sit down to rest!
They really enjoy cool temperatures 0°C – 15°C, high temperatures cause cows to be uncomfortable, irritable and their milk production to drop! To try and keep them comfortable we have fans running from late spring through to early autumn.
Cows have to give birth to a calf to produce milk. They will have a calf for the first time at about 2 years of age and will then hopefully give birth every year. 2 months before cows calve they leave the milking herd to go for a break, recharge their batteries and have some fun in the sun (if there is any!).
Cows are ruminants just like sheep! This means that they have four digestive areas in their stomachs. The cows digest plant-based food by initially softening it within her first, known as the rumen, then regurgitating the food, now known as cud, and chewing it again. The process of re-chewing the cud to further break down plant matter and stimulate digestion is called “ruminating.”
What a cow eats is very important for her digestion, milk production and milk quality. At Huddlestone Marion is a trained animal nutritionist and we have been serving the cows basically the same diet for over 15 years! It has formulated a special blend of plant products to meet all the needs associated with the health and well being of our cows, as well as to drive quality milk production!
Their feed consists of a mixture of:
- Maize silage
- Grass silage
- Soy Hulls