Here on the farm, we’ve changed things up a bit this summer. Without getting into too much detail, we mainly milk Holstein Friesian cows. As anybody who has visited us for milk can see from our entrance, they’re big cows, so they need a lot of energy to keep them going. This is not problem in winter as we have far more control over their diet, however it can be tricky to ensure the cows physically eat enough fresh grass in summer to give them the energy levels they need, especially when cows are freshly calved (recently had a calf/baby cow!). This is when they are working their hardest, producing the most milk. More milk = more food needed. If the cows can’t eat enough, they start using up body fat for energy, a lot like humans would. The difference is, cows don’t need a summer body, and are healthier when at a consistent body condition all year ‘round by getting the right nutrition when they need it. This is not as easy as it seems and means changing their diet with our cow nutritionist Anwen. Yes, we have a nutritionist just for our cows!
Now, as the saying goes there is more than one way to crack an egg, and we've tried a few different methods over the years, but this year we have kept our 'high yielding' cows in full time and our 'low yielding' cows out on grass full time. This is why, if we’re lucky enough to have you calling for milk, you may have noticed some of the cows eating on the yard with us, as they use less energy and can eat more when kept in. So far, it seems to be working very well for us, with both sets of cows very happy to either be in or out, which has come as a bit of a shock to us all really, especially as when we first turned some of the herd out, the cows that were staying in, really couldn't care less! This system it gives us a lot more control through the summer months to keep the cows at their best, but don’t panic if you can’t see any cows on the yard when you call in as there are times where the whole herd will be out grazing our fresh grass.