We know that the quality of our cheese is only as good as the milk, and we are reminded daily that this is dependent upon healthy animals.
Lindsey Landis/ Love & Olive OilOur land was a dairy farm for several years before we began making cheese, so you could say that even before the origins of Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese, our focus has been on milk. This started with Kenny Senior, who from what many in the area will tell you, sought to set a new standard for dairy farming in the region. With great speed, the size of the herd was doubled, as was each animal’s milk production due to greater care, superior cow comfort, and better nutrition.
Today our herd is made up of a crossbreed of several different types of cow. Some of these are American Holstein, European Holstein (smaller), Australian Red, Brown Swiss, and Jersey. It is a closed herd and has been for several years. That means we have total control over the breeding process and raise our own calves from birth. The milk is specific and consistent. We seek to breed and raise cows that are efficient in converting their feed into milk, are active, and live long. Generally speaking our cows live twice as long as the average for their breeds. We are constantly watching several metrics to learn what kind of quality of life our animals have.
Kenny oversees the dairy operation and maintains the creamery and the aging caves. There is careful monitoring between the dairy and creamery about what qualities are needed in the milk to create the cheeses we are looking for. The operations are balanced with a sustainable approach that allows us to run a successful dairy farm and cheese operation side-by-side.
In 2015, Kenny started looking into one of the latest trends in dairy farming, robotic milking, in which cows allow a machine to milk them whenever they want, rather than twice daily. In July 2016, the existing dairy barn collapsed due to storms that moved through the area. Visioning the future for Mattingly Farm, Kenny decided that with the rebuild, he would incorporate a robotic milking center. Above the barn, there is an observation deck that overlooks the cows and the beautiful countyside.
We are committed to becoming GMO free. It is of course easier said than done and we have to balance our ambitions with the realities of running a family business. We have successfully transitioned our feed crops away from GMO and can say that we are not growing any GMO’s on our land. We are presently working to source non-GMO grains that we use to supplement our cow’s diet.
It is our goal to make this transition in the next 5 years.
Are our cows grass fed? Yes, but not 100% of the time. We believe that a completely grass-fed diet would be prohibitive to the nutrition of our cows, based on their genetics. In other words, it would not be the healthiest choice for them. Our cows have access to pasture the majority of the time. We will keep them in the barn if it is too hot, too muddy or too cold. We feel putting them out to pasture is not only good for the grass eating aspect of it, but for the exercise and sunshine they receive.
They are fed a daily ration of high quality alfalfa hay. Fermented alfalfa hay, corn silage and a grain/mineral supplement. “Grass Fed” is a term that gets thrown around quite a bit, but has many different meanings.
We occasionally use steroids to aid in reproductive health.
We only use antibiotics if the life of the animal is at risk.
There is no use of rBST.