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COOKING COMPANION


Day in the Life OF AN ORGANIC COW


To celebrate Organic September, we stepped into the hooves of our four-legged dairy friends and talked to the farmhands at the Blagdon farm to see what it’s like to be an organic cow at Yeo Valley...


Our pedigree British Friesians are specialists in their fi eld and just like any professional they like to follow a routine.


Luckily for them, it doesn’t start with a queue for the bus or a long commute. Instead, these girls open their eyes to the rolling Mendip Hills, fresh pasture and Blagdon Lake at the bottom of the fi eld.


T e British Friesian breed is perfect


for these conditions – they are built strong and sturdy to cope with the sometimes heavy ground of our lakeside farm. T ey produce excellent milk from a simple grass-based diet. Up before the sun, they start their day at around 4am – long before your alarm clock goes off !


Cows are very sociable animals and like to stay together; they hang out with their friends and come in for milking in more or less the same order every day. Our herds are deliberately kept on the smaller side so that the herd manager will know each cow as an individual, this means if a cow comes in far from her friends in the morning then they need to take a look at her and make sure she is okay.


Milking begins at around 5am and it


takes about 10 minutes to milk a group of 20 cows. Whilst they’re being milked, they’ll tuck into a little ‘cow cake’, only this is cake with a twist. It’s organic feed that just tops up any traces of minerals that they may be light on, so


think of it more as a multi-vitamin.


90% of our cows’ diet comes from the farm that they live on, even in the winter. When they have added extras to make up for the fact their grass isn’t growing they still eat grass from the farm. T e grass is harvested in the summer, then pickled to create silage, sort of like cow sauerkraut. T ey have a wide selection of forages, specially selected to ensure that they have all the nutrients that they need all throughout the year.


Aſt er milking, the cows will wander


outside where they love to spend most of their day. Organic cows have a forage-based diet, meaning that they graze in the fi elds for most of the year.


Having munched through grass and


herbs all day, drunk about a bathtub of water and roamed the fi elds, at 4.30pm our ladies are ready for milking again.


Over the course of the year, our cows have a milking cycle of 305 days producing up to 7,500 litres of milk a year. During the summer months, they’ll spend their evenings outside under the stars; however, the herd like rain and cold about as much as we do, so as temperatures begin to drop, grass stops growing and fi elds become wet, we tend to bring them inside. Winter quarters have plenty of fresh air and protect cows from the winter elements.


It all starts


at grassroots… “Our soil is our pride and joy – we seed nitrogen fi xing plants like Lucerne and clover, they improve the soil, and our cow’s diets. The fi elds are planted with a mix of over 15 types of plant from the chunky leaves of the chicory to the sweet juicy clover, all of the plants work in harmony to give the cows the very best home- grown diet. All of the plants in our herbal leys are carefully considered to encourage diversity and health, in both our soils and our cows.”


52 | THE WEST COUNTRY FOODLOVER


6am 4am 4pm


5am


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