Our four dairy cows are managed as holistically as possible. We move them everyday to fresh pasture rotating them round the land through small paddocks, this means they always have the freshest grass but is also hugely beneficial to the grass and soil. The method works well as it mimics the nature where a herd of grazing animals will continuously move across pasture grazing it intensively but perhaps not returning to the same spot for months or even years. Rotational grazing of this kind is increasingly being understood and linked to sequestration of carbon from the atmosphere. When a long piece of grass is eaten it loses a proportional amount of root. It is in this root that carbon has been taken from the atmosphere to be used to feed the plant. When the root is lost it degrades into the soil where the carbon is then locked. If grass is overgrazed this effect is lost and so we carefully monitor our grazing practices and try to improve them to maximise the benefit of this.
When in milk, the cows are allowed to keep their calves with them. This practice would never be seen in a commercial dairy. We share the milk with the calves by milking less often and splitting the calves out for short periods of time prior to milking to allow for there to be something to take. The calves are eventually fully weaned and at the appropriate time will either be kept, sold or used for meat.
We currently have two Jerseys (Biscuit and Button) and two Shetlands (Ivory and Geranium). These breeds have pros and cons on our system. The Jersey milk is spectacularly creamy and rich, the girls are also exceptionally docile and tolerant but they do not thrive outdoors in winter. The Sheltands by contrast are virtually bomb proof in any weather but are not as natural milkers (having been pushed by breeders in recent years more towards meat). These strengths and weaknesses balance each other out meaning that we hope to provide milk most of the year.
Our dairy is an ongoing project which we hope to get off the ground in 2021 but you can pre-order our beef now which will be available from February.