For its third year, Red Gate Farm will be inviting the public to enjoy the beginning of their milking season at Calving Day Saturday, April 27th, 2019.
Red Gate Farm is a little different from your typical dairy herd across this county; they are a seasonal dairy. What is a seasonal dairy you might ask? Well, it is exactly how it sounds: the cows are only milked during some seasons and not the rest. Typically, dairies in this area rotationally breed and calve so they are breeding their cows to calve throughout the year. Consequently, they produce milk year round. Seasonal dairy farms will breed all their cows to calve at one specific time in the year. This means their whole herd is producing milk at the same time. A seasonal dairy is generally a pasture based farm which cows forage and produce milk until the natural end of the grass season.
Red Gate Farm is our sole milk supplier for our seasonal Meadow Butter. It is owned and run by the Rivington family, who practice holistic grazing management for over 1,500 acres of land and milk 350 head of cattle. They own the second-largest grazing dairy herd in New York State. At Red Gate Farm, the cows are all bred within the months of June and July. This means about 350 calves are born within the few short weeks in March and April. (Hey, I never said farmers weren’t crazy.) Red Gate does this practice for a couple reasons.
During the short time all those babies are born, Red Gate farm turns into a maternity ward. But, lucky for us, once the cows give birth, or "freshens", she starts her lactation; her period of time she produces milk. This means her peak milk production will line up perfectly with the time to graze cattle (think warm summer thoughts!). Her lactation will continue into December when she will go into her “dry” period or her time where she does not produce milk. This dry period is akin to her vacation from production as she gets her body ready for having her next calf.
Calving Day is a free, family friendly event sure to entertain and educate visitors of all ages. Calving Day will be filled with farm tours, up-close calf interactions, door prizes, a barrel cow train and so much more! At 3pm, visitors can watch the daily milking of the herd in Red Gate Farm's unique open air milking parlor. Whether or not you have visited the farm before, Calving Day will be a great time to make a trip. It will be a special event highlighting the natural cycle and processes that surround seasonal grass-fed dairy farming. We encourage anyone who wants to know more about where their food comes from to join us at the farm to celebrate the start of the season.
As the Butter Churns
Author: Ellen Fagan
Farm and Outreach Coordinator