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Update from the Hook & Son Farm

It’s exciting times down on the farm at Hook & Son, with its herd of organic cows developing rapidly and the sale of raw milk going from strength to strength.

Steve Hook guides us through what’s been happening during lockdown….

We managed to cut another forty acres of grass for silage at the start of July. This will help enormously… our silage clamp now looks a bit fuller than it did a month ago after our first cut in May which after a very dry April was half the yield it should have been! 

Still not enough in there to feed the cows next winter, but hopefully we’ll take another cut of grass in September and really fill the silage pit up. 

We need around 800 tonnes of grass silage to feed the cows from mid October to mid April. Currently we have around 500 tonnes so far all well sealed in the silage pit and fermenting nicely.

We are all very excited on the farm because of Kitty. She is now two years old. She is now a maiden heifer and will soon be served for her first time. We have just put her in with the milking herd so we can see her twice a day. She is very special, as she is our first red and white Friesian since Primrose, fifty years ago. The red, or Roan, gene is a recessive gene, with the black gene being dominant resulting in black and white cows. We’ll be keeping you up to date about Red Kitty. Hopefully she’ll be having her first calf in ten months’ time!

What is a Heifer?

Female calves are called heifer calves and are called heifers until they have their second calf around four years later. At a year old, a heifer calf becomes a heifer yearling. At around 21 months old, a heifer becomes a bulling heifer, which is when we start to serve the heifer. She is also called a maiden heifer up to the point she is first served, either by a bull, or by artificial insemination. Once she has conceived, she then becomes an in-calf heifer. The heifer’s pregnancy lasts for nine months. At calving, she
becomes a down calving heifer. She then starts her first lactation and becomes a milking heifer. It is not until she has her second calf a year later, and starts her second lactation, that she at last becomes a cow!

Glamping may be happening on the farm!

Our planning application is currently with Wealden District Council. We are seeking planning permission for five mobile glamping units on part of our farmland that runs onto the marsh. They will be ‘off grid’ in a wooded shaw that looks out onto the beautiful Pevensey Levels. Great for walks out onto the Levels, birdwatching, and somewhere where you can completely get away from any sign of civilisation….just the cows walking past at 6am for milking!

The difference between raw milk and pasteurised milk when it’s hot:

Raw milk is full of good bacteria. If the milk is warmed, these bacteria become active, and start to eat the lactose milk sugar to reproduce and they convert the lactose to lactic acid. The build up of lactic acid makes the raw milk taste sour. However, raw soured milk is still nutritionally very good as the build up of lactic acid effectively preserves the milk in acid, just as you would pickle onions in acid. 

Indeed historically without refridgeration, people knew that once raw milk had soured it was safe, as the acidity below 4.7ph kills any pathogens. 

You can use soured raw milk in cooking, just as you would use soured cream. However, it is a different story with pasteurised milk where all the good bacteria have been killed. 

Pasteurised milk has no life in it, until the bottle is opened. Once opened, any bacteria in the atmosphere that land in pasteurised milk have a food source (lactose) and no competition, so they can exponentially grow in the milk. 

Depending on what type of bacteria land in pasteurised milk will determine how it goes off. Pasteurised milk will not go sour, it will only turn bad, depending on what lands in it!

I hope that helps with understanding what happens to milk once it is not kept cold at between 0-4 Celcius. The back of the fridge is the coldest part of the fridge, whereas the inside of the fridge door is the least cold part of the fridge. You can’t beat our milk when it is lovely and ice cold on these hot days!

For fresh produce, delivered and for collection, please call us on
01323 449494.

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