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It's All About The Cows

Our seasonal grazing herd makes milk while the grass grows; the trick is getting those two to match up!


All dairy cows have to have a calf to produce milk. In our herd, all the cows are bred together in the summer so that they'll calve together in the spring, when the grass is breaking dormancy and growing like mad. As the grass slows down in the fall, our cows are slowing down too, their milk production waning, until we stop milking in early winter. They, like the grass, can then focus their winter energies on growing new life until the spring and the new calves arrive.

Photo May 22 2023, 7 00 12 PM.jpg

A seasonal grass dairy making farmstead cheese needs a very different cow than a conventional dairy farmer. When we first started the dairy in 1988, it was with purebred Jerseys. Jerseys are aggressive grazers and not as highly bred for production as the typical Holstein. To get more strength into the pretty but fragile Jerseys, we began crossbreeding to New Zealand Friesians. This gave us a sturdy grazer, one that could handle the long walks to steep mountain pastures and let us double our herd size in under 5 years because of their longevity.

But what about the cheese? Rich Jersey milk is great for butter and ice cream, but for cheese, the ratio of fat to protein is just too high. In search of the perfect cheese milk, we started crossing our herd with breeds from France whose milk had been used in cheese for centuries. Primarily we've used Montbeliarde,  one of the breeds traditionally used for making Gruyere and Comte, but we've experimented with other breeds like Tarentaise and Normande. 

The result is a unique blend of cattle, our "Meadow Creek" breed, ideally adapted to our land, our management style, and our cheese milk needs.

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