Author Topic: Help me choose a cow breed - grazed; hard, alpine cheese.  (Read 1147 times)

Offline ArnaudForestier

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Help me choose a cow breed - grazed; hard, alpine cheese.
« on: March 16, 2014, 10:35:55 AM »
I've no husbandry experience; I've only self-study.  For quite some time, I've thought on changing up life, and renting a small farm, and keeping a family cow.  Lots of intervening variables, but I've swept most away and am committed to trying.  Possibly, developing into a true farmstead creamery. 

But it starts with one animal, and one cheese, beaufort (abondance, more accurately).  Asking for some input from experienced folks, or those who want to be, which breed would you recommend, and why?

Presume:  2 acres, managed intensive grazing, as much as possible.  Among:

Ayrshire
Brown Swiss
Dutch Belted
Guernsey
Jersey
Milking Shorthorn
Normande
Tarentaise

-any thoughts?  I drew this list as these are the cows generally in our area, with the exception of the tarentaise, and so there is an existing support network for these breeds.  The tarentaise, as there is a North American tarentaise association, and there is some anecdotal research I've seen that suggests the breed's suitability for this type of cheese (which is convenient, as this is the cow one finds in the Savoie, to make the cheese).

Feel free to throw any breed in, however, along with your thoughts as to why.  Much appreciated, guys.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2014, 10:47:01 AM by ArnaudForestier »
- Paul


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Offline Spoons

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Re: Help me choose a cow breed - grazed; hard, alpine cheese.
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2014, 05:25:05 PM »
There are some days where I'd seriously consider giving up my city life and starting anew as a helping hand on a dairy farm and living a rural life. Whatever it is your planing, dreaming, I hope it works out for you.
- Eric

Offline ArnaudForestier

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Re: Help me choose a cow breed - grazed; hard, alpine cheese.
« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2014, 06:10:36 AM »
Thank you, Spoons.  It's a dream, and it is also twin to a desire to spend time in the Savoie and learn.  Have to sweep aside lingering doubts, and just try. 

On breeds, guys.  One thought, is the p/f ratio of Tarentaise (one source only), brings in a P of 3.36%, F of 3.57% for a p/f ratio of close to 1, .94.  So, my mind tries to either consider Tarentaise here (there is a North American association), or a breed that tends to the same, ideal p/f ratio. 

That would seem to knock Jersey out of the running; yet I know John Putnam of Thistle HIll makes an incredible Beaufort-style cheese (appropriately named, Tarentaise), with pure Jersey milk. 

Beaufort is a full-fat cheese; I just wonder on how full fat a milk would be useful.  The easy access to jersey, and many other characteristics makes them appealing, to me.  But the heavier fat gives me pause. 

Does anyone have any thoughts?
- Paul

Offline Spoons

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Re: Help me choose a cow breed - grazed; hard, alpine cheese.
« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2014, 12:36:37 PM »
If no one has an answer for you, maybe ask at the University of Guelph? Here's a link that you may find useful. I've found some great references on their website for cheese making knowledge.

https://www.uoguelph.ca/foodscience/content/dairy-education-series
- Eric

Offline ArnaudForestier

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Re: Help me choose a cow breed - grazed; hard, alpine cheese.
« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2014, 01:38:10 PM »
Thank you Spoons, great idea, particularly as Canada was the first to import the Tarentaise.  Merci, cheese to you!
- Paul


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Offline Sailor Con Queso

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Re: Help me choose a cow breed - grazed; hard, alpine cheese.
« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2014, 01:50:20 PM »
You can always just skim some cream/fat off Jersey milk. ;)
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Offline ArnaudForestier

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Re: Help me choose a cow breed - grazed; hard, alpine cheese.
« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2014, 01:53:35 PM »
Yep, thanks, Sailor, thought of that.  But your comment, Irather's as well, on "skimming a Porsche" or something like that, gives me great pause!  That, in addition to something Pav said about the difficulty of consistently getting the right protein content, when skimming. 

I wonder what John Putnam does, over at Thistle Hill (or Consider Bardwell, with their gruyere style, also with Jersey).  Do you happen to know?
- Paul

Offline Sailor Con Queso

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Re: Help me choose a cow breed - grazed; hard, alpine cheese.
« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2014, 03:35:31 PM »
Store bought milk is standardized and even bleached for color consistency. "Normal" milk changes color and composition constantly. The weather, the seasons, the ambient temperature, phase of the moon, lactation cycles, and certainly what the cows are feeding on has a huge effect on the protein and fat content. The differences between our Winter milk and Summer milk is amazing. So, unless you have an onsite testing lab, IMHO chasing a "consistent" P/F  is very difficult - with or without skimming.
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Offline ArnaudForestier

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Re: Help me choose a cow breed - grazed; hard, alpine cheese.
« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2014, 04:15:17 PM »
Thanks Sailor, makes great sense.  I just found out that indeed, Thistle Hill skims their Jersey.
- Paul

Offline Mike Richards

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Re: Help me choose a cow breed - grazed; hard, alpine cheese.
« Reply #9 on: March 18, 2014, 10:14:37 PM »
So this is probably silly, and I comment on how gullible my 9 year-old boy is all the time, but...

Does the phase of the moon really affect milk or was that just thrown in for good measure?
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Offline Sailor Con Queso

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Re: Help me choose a cow breed - grazed; hard, alpine cheese.
« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2014, 02:59:51 PM »
Depends on who you ask. Lots of old farmers still plant crops based on lunar cycles. When the moon is full, it has the most gravitational pull on the earth, the tides, and teats. So milk flow will be the highest. Cheeses also press better because of the increased lunar pressure. ;) :o ::)
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Offline Mike Richards

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Re: Help me choose a cow breed - grazed; hard, alpine cheese.
« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2014, 09:14:11 AM »
I'm teaching a lesson on Ocean Energy tomorrow, part of which involves explaining tides and the influence of the phase of the moon on the extent of the tide.  I'll explain the importance in dairy activities and ask the students to calculate the effect of the moon's phase on milking and cheese pressing.  I'm sure they'll enjoy doing that... ;)
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Offline elkato

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Re: Help me choose a cow breed - grazed; hard, alpine cheese.
« Reply #12 on: March 20, 2014, 10:52:12 PM »
When you have just a few cows and you milk by hand or with a single machine, the temperament of the animals becomes very important, 99% of all dairies in north America (including Canada and Mexico) have Holsteins because of a very important economic reason, they just give more milk than any other breed, a very few commercial farms have jerseys and even fewer have brown Swiss, the other exotic breeds exist in really small numbers and mostly in hobby farms.
 For some strange reason when city folks buy a small farm as their dream project they almost always want to raise the most rarest breed as they can possibly find, just to be different. Having said that I have Brown Swiss cows and just love their temperament, they are tame as pets, not like the Holsteins that I also have, that are very nervous all the time and hard to work with if you don't have all the corrals alleyways and doors needed to go from pastures into the parlour.
 I am crossbreeding the Holsteins to Brown Swiss bulls to raise halfblooded cows that will be tamer
If you can find a good Brown Swiss cow it will be hard to beat for homesteading and cheese making, it will give enough milk for your project and also will be tame to work with. a Normande, Duthch belted, Tarentise, or Shorthorn cow will only give you about 2gal total milk a day (In pasture/low input system)
a Brown Swiss, Guernsey, Ayrshire or Jersey about 3.5 gal, and a Holstein about 5.5 gal
but  it all depends on what type you like as your project is finally not a commercial enterprise 

Offline elkato

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Re: Help me choose a cow breed - grazed; hard, alpine cheese.
« Reply #13 on: March 21, 2014, 07:29:43 AM »
You can rule out Tarentise, I looked at the Association and they have been using the breed for many years as a beef breed in crossbreeding, so it means that nobody is actually milking them and have not included milk  production in their selection criteria. and also as they are very few pure breed they will probably be very expensive.
Another very good option if you want to keep things as true as possible is Montbeliarde, that is also allowed for the production of original Abondance cheese
 
 http://www.coopex.com/une-tradition-de-qualite-en.php

Montbeliarde crossbreeds are available in the US because it has become a trend to use this breed in a system of. 3 breed rotational crossbreeding with Holstein and Norwegian Red. Montbeliarde are very hardy, healthy, and if you keep breeding her to a pure breed Montbeliarde bull (With AI) you will eventually have pure breed Montbeliarde.

Offline ArnaudForestier

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Re: Help me choose a cow breed - grazed; hard, alpine cheese.
« Reply #14 on: March 21, 2014, 10:40:59 AM »
Elkato, I was given 10 Tarentaise cow purebreeders in the U.S., but your point about the preponderance of attention on the breed being for beef is well-taken, that was my first take as well.  Montbeliarde is also in the radar, just wasn't sure of any US breeders, thanks for the info.  Normande is also there for serious contention, and I know the Normande Genetics guy in the U.S.

In all honesty, I am most familiar with Ayrshire, have worked with the animals and the milk for a couple years, now.  Excellent grazers, excellent milk across many variables.  This breed is likely top of my list, but I throw the others out for some perspective, as I've not worked with more than a smattering of Jersey, and holstein is out.

Thanks again!
- Paul