Thorny Croft – In the Milking Shed
Our main reason for establishing milk production is for raising pigs and chooks. In an effort to purchase as little feed as possible, we can use the milk to provide them with a considerable amount of their protein needs. Our cows are Dexters, which as a breed, do have a higher-fat content in the milk. The other plus side of Dexters is their ability to graze on rougher pasture and maintain a hearty constitution. The cows are calving now, and we’ve been selecting the more docile, quieter cows to milk for ourselves and mothering up two calves on the less docile cows. We’re now getting up to 14 liters a day from Scarlet, our 11 year old red Dexter. Our three Large Black piglets are enjoying some of this milk each day.
Our East Friesian milking sheep have just finished lambing on the weekend and are much healthier this year as we’ve moved them to a lusher paddock. East Friesians have an even higher fat content than cow’s milk. We’re currently trying to breed some hardiness into the East Friesians. Slowly breeding the white flock into a black flock through genetic throw backs in colour. For two years, we’ve put black Rams over the white ewes. The reason for breeding black is to stop sunburn, which keeps milk production steady.
We’re now starting to set up fencing for mob grazing; a method by which you allow the grass to grow taller and absorb more nutrients from the sun. The roots also grow deeper, which sequesters carbon; reducing or possibly eliminating carbon emissions and overall, protecting the soil from sun damage – essentially allowing us to grow higher quality food.