With spring finally arriving, it’s time to let our cows out to pasture — and they can’t wait.
No-one likes to be out all day in the cold and wet, and our cows are no different. During the winter, we keep them in large barns and feed them indoors, as their hooves can ruin what little grass grows at this time. But now the weather is warming up, it’s time to let them out to enjoy roaming the fields. Chris Barber, who looks after the family’s herds, has no doubt that they relish the freedom and space: ‘I only had to look at our cows in the yard this morning. They could smell the grass growing, they know what’s happening soon,’ he says. ‘Before long, they’ll be able to munch on some grass, lie down and enjoy life in the sunshine.’
It can be a challenge, farming in this way. We’re always watching the weather forecast and checking to make sure our animals and pastures are in top condition. It’s a challenge for our cheese-makers too, as the milk changes every day, depending on what the cows are eating, or whether the grass is wet or dry. But we believe that grass-fed cows make the best cheddar, rich in the healthy fats, natural vitamins and minerals that pass from the grass to the cows to the milk.
For Chris, it’s about the happiness of his cows too: ‘It’s a bit like free-range eggs — we’re giving them the freedom to express themselves.’ He is counting down the days until the weather is right to let them out. ‘I’m passionate about seeing our cows in the fields. It’s our way of farming, how our forefathers did it, and very much part of the countryside calendar. It also happens to make the best milk for cheddar-making, without a doubt.