Hello, and welcome to Enchanted Meadows.
We are Art and Jean Thicke and Chad and Melissa Crowley, the proud owners and operators of Enchanted Meadows Organic Dairy Farm.
This is an Ayrshire dairy farm, milking about 95-100 cows in the beautiful countryside near La Crescent, Minn., along the bluffs of the Mississippi River. The farm was originally purchased by Art’s parents, Bill and Irma Thicke, in 1928; so, our family has been here for quite some time.
Enchanted Meadows consists of 523 acres, with plenty of pasture-land needed to feed our cows in what’s called a rotational-grazing or paddock-grazing system. Since 1985 we have utilized this grazing system to supply the majority of our forage for the animals on our farm. Our cows are on pasture feeding for over seven months of the year, which helps to reduce overall feed inputs, lessens labor chores, and leads to healthier cows that feed in a more natural environment.
Cow feeding costs are the highest cost on a dairy farm, which means these costs need to be carefully planned and managed. Our profitability hinges on the quality and quantity of the pasture grasses we grow, which our cows consume to produce milk. Our pasture grasses include a mixture of timothy, fescue, red and while clovers, blue grass, brome, and orchard grass. Our cows love these fresh pasture grasses as part of their feed ration.
In order to produce milk, a cow needs to become pregnant and birth a calf. The calves are then raised in their own barn where they are taken care of by the family. We have special feeding barrels for the calves that closely resembles feeding from the mothers utters. This is essential for the calves’ growth and well-being.
Our cow breeding schedule is set up so that most of our cows give birth to a calf in March and April; the same time that pasture grasses are growing in the Spring season. During the next 30 to 60 days after birth, the cows are in their prime stage of milk lactation, and in-sync with the types of grasses growing in our pastures that are naturally higher in protein and total digestible nutrients (TDN).
We then rotate cows from pasture to pasture (paddock to paddock), allowing time for the grasses to re-grow, which can take from 25-to-50 days, depending on rainfall and sunshine.
The well-being of our environment is very important to us, especially as farmers. In order to continue producing quality milk, we do our best to provide our cows with a healthy and clean environment. We have started implementing more solar-powered energy throughout the farm to reduce our carbon footprint. With a 120-kilowatt solar power system, Enchanted Meadows is able to run entirely on sustainable energy.
Westby Cooperative Creamery is unique in many ways, with one distinction being the milk that we, as farmer-owners, produce on our family dairy farms is all r-BST-free milk. This means there are no hormones given to the cows to increase lactation. Many of our farms are Certified-Organic; like the milk that comes from our cows at Enchanted Meadows. This means our milk complies with the U.S. Department of Agriculture standards for organic milk, and is further certified as such by Nature’s International Certification Services.
We are proud and thankful to live and work on a self-sustaining family dairy farm operation, and in a healthy and productive lifestyle that reaches beyond our farm and into your homes with the quality dairy foods that our cooperative manufactures.
We would enjoy showing you more of Enchanted Meadows; so, please stop by if you’re in the area. In the meantime, please visit www.DairyDoingMore.org and www.DairyFarmingToday.org to learn more about America’s family dairy farms.
Art & Jean Thicke and Chad & Melissa Crowley