We get lots of questions here at Yeo Valley. So many, in fact, that we thought it might be handy to put the ones we hear most often, all in one place. And that place is here.
Our Cows FAQs
Health and Wellbeing
How do you care for your calves?
When a calf is born, we make sure it is with its mother for the first few days, having the colostrum (first milk – which contains nutrients and antibodies) from its mother. It’s then fed organic whole milk until it’s weaned, before moving on to grass/hay.
The calves born fall into three categories:
- British Friesian heifer calves, who will be the milkers of the future
- British Friesian bull calves, which will be reared for beef or as breeding bulls
- Beef-cross bull and heifer calves, which will be reared for beef
80% of the beef reared in Britain comes originally from the national dairy herd.
How often do your cows calve?
The maiden heifers will calve when they are around 30 months old and then give milk for about about 300 days. They then have a rest for 60 days before calving again.
Cows – like wild horses, deer, wildebeest etc. – have evolved to have one pregnancy a year. Traditionally, they would have their young in the spring when the grass is most abundant and they would be able to produce lots of milk to give the calves the best start in life.
I've heard cows are really sociable – do you allow them to socialise?
Yes! Our cows definitely have social groups, they are very inquisitive and always come and see what’s going on. By giving them plenty of space to roam around, they work out who is top cow.
How often do you milk your cows?
The cows are milked twice a day, at 4.30am and at 4pm.
What happens when your cows get old?
Pedigree British Friesians are a dual-use breed so when their milking days are over, they go for ‘cow beef’. This is equivalent to mutton in sheep and is slightly stronger in taste.
What do you do when a cow is ill?
If a cow is ill, the herd manager will assess the cow and treat it if they have a minor ailment. If in doubt, we’ll call in the vet. Each of our two herds has a weekly daytime vet visit.
British Friesians are a very hardy breed. This, coupled with the low-stress spacious environment we provide, means that generally we have a very healthy herd.
- How do you care for your calves?
Can I visit the farm and see the cows?
As the farms are working farms, we’re not able to welcome visitors every day, but we do have our popular ‘Farm to Fridge’ days, where you can come visit the cows and learn all about them. Find out more here.
How much milk does a cow generally produce in a year?
Around 12,200 pints over 305 days on average. That’s around 40 pints a day.
- Can I visit the farm and see the cows?
Our Cows and Organic Farming
Are your cows pasture fed/free range?
It is a condition of organic certification that 60% of a cow’s diet must come from forage (grass and silage) and the cows must graze naturally in fields, when the weather allows. This means that all organic cows are pasture fed/free range.
- Are your cows pasture fed/free range?
Keep up with everything happening in the valley...
...including upcoming events, recipes, competitions and more. Just pop your email address in below: