The thought of milking cows outside and keeping the herd outside for most or all of the year is not new. Reading about Arthur Hosier still resonates with us when we think about what we want for our cows. He was doing this method back in 1922. You can read more about his story here.
We are in a similar situation. Without many buildings at our disposal, we will be taking a mobile milking unit to the cows in the field where they graze rather than bringing them into a parlour to be milked before being taken back out again. This is not only more cost and time effective for us, it is also far better for the cows wellbeing. Their feet can become damaged from walking on uneven, rough terrain tracks.
By keeping the cows in the fields, the added bonus is they will spread their own manure onto the land rather than us bringing it back to the farm to be stored as slurry.
By keeping our cows in the field and not constantly moving them to be milked, will result in calm and happy cows. They won’t be stressed from being constantly walked up and down tracks and into barns.
We will also be taking the ‘calf at foot’ approach. This means we will be keeping calves with their mothers until they are ready to wean naturally in contrast to conventional dairying where the calf is separated from the cow within a few days of birth. This results in a healthier calf as well as better wellbeing for mum as she is benefits from the close bonding experience with her calf.
Disease & Infection
By milking outside the sanitary conditions are better, mean not only cleaner milk but less disease as well as less infections such as those which affect the udders like mastitis.
We also hope to suffer with less scour in our calves due to the natural conditions of life in the field and being kept with their mother.
Even Tuberculosis, known as the worst enemy of milk producers, can be reduced in this way. The unnatural conditions of keeping cows in warm housing, congregated together, the mud in wet weather and the dust in dry weather are all contributing factors resulting in TB. This can be devastating to a herd and the farmer who has raised them. By reducing these factors and keeping the cows in the field where they have plenty of space, we hope to help prevent TB outbreaks within our herd. (Wishful thinking as keeping TB a bay is a hard one but we are going to try our hardest!)
- Healthy Feet – We will be milking our cows in the field rather than walking them down tracks which damage their feet
- Less Stress – We are keeping ‘Calf at foot’ resulting in happy, calm cows and calves whilst being kept in natural conditions in the pastures
- Reduced Disease – Keeping cows outdoors providing cleaner and better sanitary conditions meaning less spread of infectious diseases
We aim to implement all of the above measures to not only keep happy and healthy cows but to also provide great and sustainable milk to our community!
Our cows will spend the majority of the year outside enjoying the grass in the fields and spend the harshest months in our barn but we are hoping to eventually acquire more land with areas of gorse scrubland which can provide shelter from the elements for the cows all year round!
We would love to hear of any Shropshire farmers with any suitable land to help us implement the ‘all year round’ approach then please do reach out to us!