The philosophy that drives Jon and Juli Bansen's farm is healthy land and cows. Proper care of one of those elements makes it easier to care for the other, Jon Bansen said.
Jerseys are a sentimental choice for a breed -- Bansen's family has used the cows for three generations. They're also practical. At 900 pounds, they're lighter than Holsteins and do less damage to the ground.
The Bansen's cattle feed whenever
the grass is mature and the weather dry. His fields are broken into 9-acre blocks. Employees will lead the cows to parcels via concrete paths surrounding the perimeters of the pasture.
When they're finished with one block, they move onto the next. Besides eating, they're also evenly distributing manure for fertilization. Within a month, they'll reach the first piece in the rotation.
Jon grows perennial ryegrass, clover, chicory and other plants for a balanced diet -- "You wouldn't want to eat green beans for every meal, would you?" he said.
Avoiding pesticides keeps more healthy bacteria in the soil, which feeds the grass. The grass nourishes the bacteria in a cow's rumen, which aids with cellulose digestion.
Cows are milked twice a day, and average about 46 pounds of milk -- or 5 to 6 gallons -- a day. Once they've visited the milk parlor, they're immediately whisked back out to pasture.
The Bansens have a routine for their calves as well to improve health. They're fed milk for five months -- instead of the industry standard eight weeks -- after birth before they graduate to grass.