One of my New Years Resolutions was to milk a cow. A bit of an odd one I know, but I love cows, I think they such serene and peaceful creatures. Vincent and his family from Viewmount Farm in Sligo were kind enough to invite me over to fulfill my resolution.
It was a fascinating visit, I really didn’t have any idea what went into farming or the production of milk. Today I got a tour of the farm, I saw where the feed was stored, the ‘nursery’ where the newborn calves are, the ‘maternity’ unit where the cows are resting for 8 weeks before they give birth. I didn’t know cows are pregnant for 9 months either.
The McGee family are passionate about farming and this really shows in how well run the farm is. It really is a full-time job. There are no days off from milking, it’s twice a day 365 days a year. The milk goes to Connacht Gold who have a factory located just down the road from the farm so it’s all very local.
All cows at Viewmount Farm are registered with the Irish Holstein Friesian Association and have an official name and pedigree (family tree), similar to purebred horses or dogs. The first ‘Viewmount’ cows were registered in 1961 with the British Friesian Association and many of the present cow families in the herd are descended from these.
Each cow has a little chip in her ear. As they walk into the milking parlour there is a little screen above each stall and this tells the machines which cow is which and how much food they need to produce the amount of milk they produce….that sounds very complicated now that I type it!! Anyway as the cows are being milked, they are eating at the same time. The milking doesn’t take long at all, another thing which surprised me. The farm runs like clockwork with the family knowing exactly what needs to be done.
I could bombard you with a load more photos but you can see them all on my Flickr page.
I just have to share this great video with you. The farm has a cow brush which really reminds me of a car wash!
My big thanks to Agatha, Vincent, David, the cows and the cats on the farm for their hospitality and making a New Years Resolution come true for me. I’ll always remember them when I pick up a bottle of milk.