It's been a while since we talked about the lovely ladies of East Hill Creamery-- our cows! And since we hope we have a lot of new readers to the blog, we want to fill everyone in on our cows. They, besides our family and crew, are the most important part of the Creamery, because without them, we would have no milk to make our cheese. All of the milk to make the cheese at East Hill Creamery will come from our very own cows milked at East Hill Farms in Warsaw, NY or Graceland Dairies in Dansville, NY (as winter supply). Graceland is our second family owned dairy and will supply milk for the Creamery when all of the cows in Warsaw are dry for the winter. We want to be very transparent and open about our cows with all of you. Besides, who said that happy cows come from California ? Happy cows are everywhere at East Hill.
Since it is summer, our cows are all out on pasture. Our cows go to a new pasture after every milking. They are eating a variety of annuals and perennials, consisting of perennial ryegrass, white clover, blue grass, plantains, chicories, dandelions, daisies, birdsfoot, red clover, and other plants too numerous to list. We are very fortunate that we have the resources to allow our cows to be on grass like they are. It is not very common in today's world to be able to have the contiguous pasture system like we do for 1300 milking cows (in two locations). We are very grateful and thankful for the opportunity to have been able to put these farms together to make two large grass based dairies. Also, the flavors of the grasses and herbs in our pastures will come out in our cheese, so you can be sure that our cheese will have it's very own, delicious, natural flavor!
Our cows are done calving, but breeding season is now underway. The cows started calving around the first of April and our calving season lasted until the end of May. We breed 35% of the cows artificially so that we can get some new and current genetics into our herd. It is common to breed cows, horses, hogs, chickens, and other farm animals using artificial insemination (AI). It is a very simple process to induce and synchronize and predict when the animals will have their offspring. We can pick out the semen from the Bulls and other male species that have superior genetics or qualities that are useful to improve the genetics of our herd. Genetic companies store semen in liquid nitrogen so that it stays frozen until time of use.
The other 65% of our cow herd gets bred naturally to one of about 50 bulls that we have raised oursevles from the cows who get bred using AI.
We use a ratio of 1 bull for every 15 cows, so that we know that we will get adequate coverage and a good conception rate in a short period of time.
We hope that you enjoyed learning more about our cows, or for some of you, getting a refresher. We welcome any and all questions about our cowherd, and we would love for you to give us ideas of things that you want to know more about for future blogs. Thank you so much for reading today!