Most of our calves are born between September and Christmas or between March and late April and are a mix of Friesians and beef breeds, mostly Angus.
The female friesians (heifers) will be milking cows one day, and the males will be beef. All our calves are reared on older dairy cows, or on cows which have a temporary problem so that the less demanding task of looking after 3 calves (!) will allow them to recover. When a calf is born, it stays with it’s mum for a day or two to get the rich colostrum (sometimes known as first milk and rich in antibodies) which is vital for immunity. Then the cow moves into the milking herd, and her calf is paired with a foster mum. We have a lovely calf house where this bonding takes place, and where they all live during the winter.
Calves stay with their foster cows until they are 6 months old, benefiting from plenty of milk, as well as hay and some concentrate feed in the winter, and lush clover pastures in the summer.
Once weaned, the young cattle will graze clean pastures, often with an old cow or two to teach them the ropes outside. Some may spend winter outside on turnips, kale and grassland, though most will be housed to protect the soil. The Friesian heifers will be served when they are around 15 months old, so that they calve at 2 years, and the beef will go to slaughter at around 26 to 28 months. After a lifetime of grazing our rich pastures, they taste fantastic.