Our herd of twenty-five Dutch Belted ladies are dual purpose cows and they supply us with both lovely milk and beef. They are friendly, intelligent and curious creatures with a beautiful white belt around their middle. Dutch Belted cows are a heritage breed of cattle and ours each produce about four and a half gallons of milk a day. Their genetics have not been altered to work in the modern, grain-fed confinement dairy model. Our lovely cows are able to produce delicious milk on grass alone and many of them continue producing into their teens.
Why Dutch Belts?
Much thought went into what breed of cattle we should keep. Currently, over ninety percent of the dairy cows in the United States are Holsteins. We were looking for a different breed that would thrive in our pasture based system; an animal that didn’t need grain, wouldn't have difficulty calving, and was dual-purpose. We found what we were looking for in the Dutch-Belted cow and we have traveled from Maine to Michigan to Pennsylvania putting our herd together. Since our first three cows arrived on our farm we knew we made the right choice.
It may sound simple just to feed grass to your cows but our pastures change with the seasons and presenting the right food at the right time of year becomes tricky. We strive for our cows to be healthy and well cared for. After doing quite a bit of research, we found a special greenhouse designed specifically for sprouting barley seed. The six days it takes for the sprouts to grow allows the seeds to be come more bio-available to the ruminant’s digestive track and provides an important source of energy, vitamins and nutrients enhancing the cows nutritional base. It also allows us to put out fresh green fodder for our ladies even in the dead of winter.
A Gentle Reminder
Some people view dairy cows gentle docile animals much like an old Labrador. They feel that they can run up to them and pet them and have braids in their hair all the while the soundtrack to The Sound of Music will be playing in the background. Just a gentle reminder that cows are large mammals. A quick flick of the head to get rid of an annoying fly can really injure a person. We love visitors to our farm and even encourage it. But please remember that our girls weigh a lot more than you do and we have taught them to not talk to strangers. Come and look but do not try and touch.