Our Happy Cows

Animals, Blog

Crumpet, one of the Jersey cows whose rich milk will be used to make your cheddar cheese is a beauty, as are all our Jerseys. Crumpet has a warm brown ‘complexion’. She has large, soft eyes and flirty, long eyelashes. Her personality could best be described as placid. She does not seem to be in the least excited about her approaching ninth birthday.

When Crumpet is ready to be milked she is taken to the “parlor” that connects directly to the white-tiled creamery where the hand-crafted (artisanal) cheeses are made. As required by the USDA, the milk will be pasteurized. The cheese from these small, carefully tended batches is made from fresh Grade A milk–not from the lower grades that are often thought suitable for cheese. No preservatives, stabilizers, artificial ingredients, BSTs, or additives of any kind are used. The cultures, enzymes and rennet we use are not genetically modified.

Cows with names like Snookums, Tallulah or Crumpet produce more milk (up to 500 pints of milk more a year) than their no-name sisters, according to a recent study.

Our dairy farmer confirmed this by saying: “By placing more importance on the individual, such as calling a cow by her name or interacting with the animal more as it grows up, we not only improve the animal’s welfare and her perception of humans, but also increase milk production.”

He went on to say: “Just as people respond better to the personal touch, cows also feel happier and more relaxed if they are given a bit more one-to-one attention. It is vitally important to treat cows individually. They aren’t just our livelihood — they’re part of the family. We love our cows and every one of them has a name. Collectively we refer to them as ‘our ladies’ but we know every one of them and each one has her own personality.”

The first registered Jerseys were brought to the United States in the 1850s. Because of their small size, they were chosen for voyages in the old sailing ships. We don’t know whether they suffered seasickness, or what happened to all that rich milk when churned by the rough seas. It may have turned into whipped cream–more likely buttermilk!

A natural enzyme in milk makes cheese-making difficult when the cows have been milked for more than 250 days…. it prohibits rheology (expulsion of whey). That’s when Crumpet is sent on “vacation.” Everyone has to have a break sooner or later–to get “freshened up.” Everyone, that is, except our dairy farmers who toil 365 days a year. Put aside any romantic notions you may have about dairy farming; it’s hard, hard work. First comes the milking, then making the cheese (an exacting and time-consuming operation), cleaning the barn (and clean and clean and clean!), pitching the hay, rotating the herd through several pastures when the warm weather comes, then comes the milking, making the cheese, feeding the herd—-you get the idea. The cows are fed fresh hay & spend time outside every day, even in the winter.

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