Sunday, July 17, 2011

Interview with Emily from Zweber Farms

So the other evening I tweeted about drinking milk as my bedtime drink and @zweberfarms replied MILK :-), I couldn't resist asking him if I could interview them on dairy farming for chow and chatter. His lovely wife    kindly answered my questions, by all accounts they seem like an amazing farming family, and I am thankful for farmers like this who work so hard so we can enjoy milk and meat raised in a natural and humane way.

How long have you been dairy farming?

 Our farm has been in the Zweber family since 1906. My husband’s great-grandfather bought the land and homestead. The Zwebers are German immigrants and had settled in the area around the 1850’s. Tim and I joined the farm full time after Tim graduated from college in 2006. We farm along with Tim’s parents, Jon and Lisa Zweber.

 Tell us about the way you farm and why being organic is so important, can the cows graze freely I heard that a lot of dairy cows are kept indoors 

During the pasture growing months our cows and youngstock (calves and heifers) are out on pasture. They are moved every twelve hours to ensure that they have plenty of nutritious grasses and hay to eat. Our grazing method is called rotational grazing. Each day we make decisions on where our cows will graze based on pasture quality and feed value. Our method is known as intensive, which means we give them just the amount of feed they will need in 12 hours. This is important because it forces the cows to eat all the grasses, instead of picking and choosing only their favorites. This gives the cows a well balanced diet and allows their manure to effectively fertilize each area they graze. As organic farmers it is important to think of cow nutrition from the soil up. We need healthy soils to make healthy grasses. Healthy grasses are fed to make healthy cows who produce healthy milk. Waste from healthy cows then is applied back to the land to replenish the soil nutrients. Each segment in the cycle is important. In the winter months our cows have free access to both a sand bedded building and pasture area. Winter feed consists of the organic hay, forages and grains we harvest on our farm and neighboring areas. We milk about 120 cows and have about 150 youngstock on our farm.

Being organic is important to us because doing what is best for our land, animals and family is important. Our land is healthy, our animals are healthy and our farm provides nutritious milk to our family and hundreds of families around our region. We can be proud of our product.

Do you as a family love milk?

 Of course we are huge milk drinkers and lovers of all dairy products. Thank goodness we have a nearly endless supply of milk on the farm. We drink through several gallons each week. Milk and homemade cookies is a favorite snack of our children (and Tim and I).

  Is there anything that you find will surprise folks about dairy farming?

 I think people would be surprised to learn that there are lots of opportunities for rewarding careers in the dairy industry. Whether you like working with animals, have an interest in developing new dairy products or find excitement in global marketing, the dairy industry is just not for farmers any more. Dairy farming no longer looks like an old farmer in bib overalls on a rusty tractor. It is a complex industry. We are always looking for good help on our farm too. Often people associate dairy farming with manual labor. While there is plenty of that, it takes a special caring person to be able to work with animals each day. Our longest part time employee had no farming background when she starting working on a dairy farm. Her easy manner and love for animals makes her a valuable asset to our farm.

Heres a lovely clip of the family about their farm :-)

for more information here's their website -

Have a great start to the week folks :-)

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