Friday was our big day. The official opening of our farm! We prepared everything very well and we invited the neighbourhood, our friends and our family. Today is Sunday and I’m sitting in my comfy chair reminiscing about the beautiful day and all the people who’d wished us good luck. It was great to feel so welcome in the picturesque village of Rotstergaast.
Meanwhile, I look to the kitchen where Jelte (my brother-in-law) and Ellis (his girlfriend) are baking pancakes using our very own eggs. I’m thinking about our cows that are blissfully ruminating on their straw bed. We’re facing an exciting time. A time where the heart of my vision will see the light.
The heifers are getting calves, and thus are becoming mothers for the first time. How will they manage? What do they think of me? How happy are they? But more importantly, what will they think of me after I take their calves away after just three days? Even though I let them be with their mother for three days, it’d be much nicer to just let them stay with their mother. Then she could feed her calves the milk they need and I could take what’s left of it. Unfortunately, the cow’s biological instinct tells her to keep all of the milk for her calves, which leaves nothing for the farmer. The production of milk is the most important aspect of our farm, and without it, we’d have no income.
We have bull calves (boys) as well as heifers (girls). Jersey cattle are known for their very healthy and rich milk, but not for their meat. Raising these bull calves for their meat isn’t a viable option, and normally they’d be nominated for the Lost Animals cause. But we have ideas, we’re constantly looking for an alternative. One of these ideas is to adopt rejected Holstein cows (the traditional black and white cows) that were going to the slaughterhouse because they’re not producing enough milk. We would let these rejected cows foster the Jersey bull calves in the fields of ‘It Fryske Gea’. This way, the bull calves can grow up in a natural environment to eventually produce prime quality meat.
Will there be an interest in the meat? Will the Jerseys grow well? Will the foster mothers and bull calves accept each other as their new families? It all sounds like a great idea, but at the same time, it raises a lot of questions…
What do you think? Have you heard of any examples or ideas from other farmers?
I’d love to hear from you!