At Woodbourne Creamery at Rock Hill Orchard, we have a small herd of Guernsey cows. Checkout this video for a great overview of our farm. We use the American Guernsey Association trademarked "Golden Guernsey" logo as we are proud to be carrying on the tradition of supplying golden creamline milk. The Guernsey cow is descended from cows on the isle of Guernsey in the English channel. She is one of the most efficient breeds at converting grass into milk. She is a medium-sized and very docile cow (ours especially due to their handling as calves). Guernsey milk contains 12% more protein, 30% more cream, 33% more vitamin D, 25% more vitamin A and 15% more calcium than average milk. The golden color of the milk is due to the beta carotene not being broken down (as it is in other breeds). Guernseys have a higher level of Omega-3 than other cows.
Our calves are raised in individual hutches for about 30 days before they move into group housing. We have found this produces a healthier calf as if one calf gets sick, it won't pass it along to another. We have tried raising calves in groups from birth and found that if one calf got sick, within less than a day, we had seven calves all sick. All of our calves are fed real milk (the same milk that we bottle) from the cows for at least three months. We know there are many ways to raise calves and we can tell you that we have tried just about every one and found this system appears to produce the healthiest calves with the fewest issues for either the mother cow or the calf.
In 2016, we setup a rotational grazing setup for the calves/heifers in the field behind the dairy which allows us to group them into appropriately sized groups. In order to ensure that everyone gets a fair share of the food, the animals are grouped based upon size, not age. At 15 months, they are moved to the main cow fields and are assimilated into the large cow group so they can be bred and learn about the Delaval robotic milking system.
Ideally, a dairy cow will have its first calf at 24 months old and will have one calf each year. A cow needs to have a calf in order to produce the wonderful Golden Guernsey milk. We try to breed our cows so they will have calves in the spring and summer, so that there is the most grass when they need it the most. Our cows typically calve in the field which is the cleanest environment.
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