The Farmer's Cow offers tours of Hytone Farm
By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Coventry - posted Tue., Jul. 16, 2013
Robin Chesmer, from Graywall Farm in Lebanon, introduced a tour at a July 13 open house at Coventry’s Hytone Farm by providing a brief history of the Farmer’s Cow collaborative. Founded in 2005 in a market increasingly hungry for local products, the collaborative has grown steadily, branching out from milk, to half-and-half, to eggs, ice cream, cider, summer beverages and coffee.
Last summer the collaborative - consisting of Graywall in Lebanon, Mapleleaf in Hebron, Cushman in Franklin, Fort Hill in Thompson, Fairvue in Woodstock and Hytone in Coventry - opened up its first Farmer’s Cow Calfé and Creamery in Mansfield. The café sells and serves Farmer’s Cow products, and offers a varied menu featuring local products such as Beltane Farm goat cheese.
Chesmer passed his group off to Ned Ellis from Mapleleaf, who began with a tour of Hytone’s large main barn. “It’s really important that we keep our cows just as comfortable as we can,” said Ellis. A hot cow is an uncomfortable cow, he said. “Hot cows don’t eat and they don’t give milk,” said Ellis. He bent to pick up a handful of the mixture on which the herd was placidly munching.
“Cows are just like a kid,” said Ellis. A cow’s diet is composed of carefully-chosen components that provide just the right amount of nutrients, including soybeans, hay, cotton seed and corn silage. Diets change according to the needs of the cow due to illness, pregnancy and other circumstances. The trick is to mix it up well, said Ellis. “You want every mouthful to contain just what that cow needs to stay healthy,” he said. Cows also consume between 40 and 50 gallons of water a day, according to Ellis. “They need to keep hydrated just like we do,” he said.
Cows are sensitive to heat. “They can take three days of heat,” said Ellis. “But after three days you watch your bulk tank go down, down, down.”
As he continued the Hytone tour, Ellis shared some of the new technology being implemented at his own farm. In 2011, Mapleleaf acquired a huge bank of solar panels that provides approximately 40 percent of the power required to run the farm. More recently, Ellis has begun utilizing a fertility monitoring system that assists with breeding. The system monitors the activity level of each individual cow. An increase in activity level usually means that the cow is about to go into heat. With a short window of fertility occurring on a monthly basis, the system helps to save time and money.
Hytone Farm originated in 1944 with the purchase of land by Giovani Perracchio. Currently the farm is run by Bill and Tom Peracchio, and Bill’s son, Greg. The Perracchios raise all their own Holstein cows. Crops grown for the animals consist of 220 areas of corn for silage and 130 acres of grass for silage.
On July 21, from 1 to 4 p.m., the Farmer’s Cow will host the Annual Ice Cream, Blueberry & Bluegrass Bash at Fort Hill Farms in Thompson. The event will feature complimentary samplings of the latest flavors of Farmer’s Cow ice cream topped with fresh blueberries from the farm and fresh Farmer’s Cow whipped cream. There will be live bluegrass music, farm tours and wagon rides. For other upcoming events and more information on The Farmer’s Cow, go to http://www.thefarmerscow.com.