195 Isaac Frye Hwy. Wilton, NH 03086 Google Map 603-654-6082/ 603-721-6426

Beef & Veal

The best beef and veal is grass-fed.  Unlike a lot of milk and beef producers who rely on heavy grain supplements to maximize production, we rely on careful, consistent selection of the cows and bulls whose genetics and performance fit our farm and management practices.  Our cows and calves thrive on grass and hay because they've been selected for that characteristic.

Each farm is a unique organism with its own set of limitations.  One of the limitations of our farm is a lack of good grain growing land.  So our cows have to perform with what we have to offer: careful, management-intensive grazing of good pasture and high quality hay year-round

We have a mixed herd of purebred Ayrshires, Jerseys and Ayrshire-Jersey cross cows. And beginning in March 2014 we'll begin to see some of our first Ayrshire-Normandie and Jersy-Normandie calves born here at the farm. The Normandie breed should be a good addition to our herd, since it, too, has been selected to thrive on grass.  Additionally, the Normandies have some unique genetic characteristics that will dovetail with our cheese making operation, such as a slightly higher yield of cheese from their milk.  Bringing a young heifer from birth to her place in the dairy barn is a long investment.  We breed our replacement heifers between 14-16 months of age, which means they calve at roughly two years of age.  

One of the unique ways we manage our cows and calves starts with calving.  The majority of all dairy cows worldwide are separated from their newborn calf after 24-48 hours.  Under this management system the calf receives the essential colostrum from the mother and then is bottle-fed milk for anywhere from 2-4 months until weaning.  When our cows calve, whether in spring or winter, they are put together in a large pen for the first 24-72 hours (depending on the weather outside).  Here they get to know each other, we get to make sure the calf knows how to nurse (which the majority of our calves have no problem with accomplishing on their own) and we make sure everything (health-wise and udder-wise) is well.

After this initial bonding period, the cow and calf join the herd in the daily rotational grazing.  A well bonded cow-calf pair can easily find each another in the noise and commotion of the herd, which varies in number between 22-28 cows and calves at any one time. From then on our cow-calf management is pretty simple.  Calves stay with their mothers during the day and then are separated out before evening milking and kept in the large calf pen for the night.  This daily separation allows the cow's milk production to recover so that we get a full milking in the morning to meet our need for fluid milk in the dairy and cheese making operations.

The calves are "gently" weaned at three months of age.  We use a simple, plastic weaning ring in the calf's nose to begin the weaning process.  The weaning ring is easily and painlessly inserted (no part of the weaning ring penetrates the calf's nose).  The beauty of this system is that the unavoidable stress of weaning is cut in half.  The calf can't nurse, but it continues to be with its mother during the day, which greatly reduces any stress  After a week and half of this transition time, the weaning ring is removed and the calf is pulled out from the herd to join our other weaned calves. And because prior to being weaned the calves have developed their rumens through eating grass and/or hay, they easily take up their new life with their own cohort of calves

Our approach to cow-calf management highlights one of the key ways in which we view our role as stewards of the land and animals we are privileged to work with.  We aren't out to maximize and supersize our production, our animals or our vegetables; rather, we are always seeking to find the right balance between the different parts of our larger farm organism and to find the right balance between inputs and outputs, between labor and capital, and amongst all the things that we could do if we wanted to maximize production but that we shouldn't do because it would cause an imbalance in the larger picture of what we do on this farm as farmers and what we do in this community-growing farm as friends, neighbors and citizens.

So, the connection between goals and practices, between what we could do and what we should do manifests in what the people and animals on the land produce.  Not all calves should become milk cows or bulls, so the inevitable "surplus" is returned to us in the form of our grass-fed beef and veal.  It's a product we take great pride in offering to you.  

Photo(s) added: JacobOctober 23rd, 2016

New photo added:

New aerial photo of TWCF farmlands available for viewingMarch 9th, 2016

Now you can see the breadth of our various farmlands up here on Abbot Hill.  From Gage Field to Randi's Field, from the top of Frye Field down to the Hidden Meadow that once was a peach orchard a

New Showcase: Cheesemaking at Abbot Hill CreameryMarch 2nd, 2016

Click here to view the showcase.


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