The Beemster Story
Our cows eat grass whenever possible. And that’s why Beemster tastes so unique!
Cows in the Meadow
In 2002, Beemster was the first cheese maker in Europe to encourage its farmers to put their cows out into the field. It does so by paying them a premium of €0.50 per 100 kilos of milk. For the average farmer, this adds up to €3000 each year. This encouragement has been very effective, as 96% of the Beemster farmers now allow their cows to graze outside during the day and also at night. The national average for this is 80%.
Looked After in Summer and Winter
Cows love being outside, but during the winter they stay in the shed. In winter the farmers ensure that the cows get everything they need: they have comfortable beds to lie on (some even have water beds!) and get plenty of water and food.
See the video ot hte cows leaving the barn after winter!
Measuring Animal Welfare
Cows that are happy and contented reach a greater age and get sick less often. To measure whether this is the case, Beemster has developed a special instrument that measures the state of affairs with regard to animal welfare on a farm. The sheds and feed are checked on the basis of a checklist. The cows are also scrupulously examined: does the cow have any minor injuries? Is her coat nice and glossy? This inspection results in a score for six separate subjects. The farmer can then use this score to further optimize the welfare of his animals.
Beemster farmers about happy cows:
• “By taking care of our cows properly, they will reach a greater age. We are really proud of our cows Paula and Emma, since Emma is twelve years old and Paula is a magnificent 13! Beemster is also proud of these cows and has given Paula and Emma an award because they have produced more than 100,000 liters of milk during their lifetime!” Welhuis family.
• “In our new shed, the cows lie on lovely soft rubber mats.” Hooch Antink family.
• “Cows should be able to lie down for more than half the day, preferably in the field on the grass or on a nice comfortable bed in the shed. Lying down as often as possible is better for the cows and the quality of the milk!” Veterinary Joost de Veer.