by Rod Kebble
Our thanks to Zoë Clear for providing these photographs of the Pierrepont milking herd of pedigree Jersey cows as they were released back into the fields last Saturday (March 21st), after their winter incarceration.
Three members of the herd race down the concrete slope leading to the fields. Never let anyone kid you that cows want to be locked up year-round in factory-farm sheds.
The cows have to be kept indoors during the winter months, as (a) there is very little grass in the fields for them to eat and it is of poor quality, and (b) if they were left in the fields in wet winter weather, their hooves would churn up (“poach”) the ground and any grass trying to grow in it.
A chance to stretch their legs after spending the winter months inside…
As anyone who has seen the cows race indoors when it rains — as they can now do since the robotic milking machines were installed in 2011 — can testify, they do not like getting wet any more than do humans. Although the dairy has open sides, there is a roof to keep off the rain and retain the heat generated by the herd itself.
Only one foot touches the ground as this cow runs into the field.
The animals also enjoy waiter service throughout the winter, as herdsman Tony Timmis delivers freshly-prepared meals directly to their stalls. The food is based on the silage made from maize grown on the farm and mixed with other goodies, such as fodder beet, just before serving. That said, one can’t help wondering if the joy shown by these cows, as they see a field of grass once more, reflects in some way on Tony’s cooking…
All four hooves in the air as this cow reaches the pasture again.
Visitors to the Easter Egg Hunt next Wednesday (1st April) and the Festival of Food, Farming and Wildlife on Sunday 7th June will be able to see the cows milking themselves in the robotic milking parlour and visit the recently-arrived calves. Entry and parking for both events are free and further details appear just above this post — scroll up to see them. (If you have followed an external link to this page, navigate to the Home page instead, where the event details are at the head of the posts column.) Follow this link for directions to Pierrepont Farm.
Correction, 25th March at 1533 hours: this post originally described 1st April as being on a Tuesday. It is in fact a Wednesday. Apologies for our confusion.