In both Canada and the U.S., dairy farmers bring the best of the best from their herds to compete for top honors at The World Dairy in Madison, Wisconsin and The Winter Royal Dairy show in Canada. Karlie, a three year old Jersey cow who lives at Arethusa Farm in Litchfield, Connecticut, wears the Grand Champion crown in the United States and Canada. Teams of professionals in both countries have awarded Karlie the title of Grand Champion of her breed, and Supreme Grand Champion of all breeds in Canada. This is a great honor in the cow world. Judging cows is a science which is taught starting with 4-H clubs and continues through four-year dairy science universities. Characteristics of the cow’s anatomy are awarded points from head to toe by the judges. It is sort of a beauty contest, but there is definitely a purpose in their scoring. These dairy shows are attended by delegations from around the world looking for the genetics to improve their herds back home. A great cow will breed great calves and be in milk production for many years.
Karlie is given the royal treatment (as are all of 350 dairy cows) at the farm. Also living at the farm is former Supreme Grand Champion, Veronica, who was the 2005 winner. Showcasing why genetics play such a valuable role in a herd is a case-in-point: Veronica’s daughter, Vivid, was Grand Champion in 2012. The dairy team at Arethusa Farm focuses on giving the cows a great home. Nutrition, comfort, safety and plenty of exercise are part of the cow spa experience.
Here at Arethusa the focus is on breeding top genetics – they use what they call the “Five Generation Test.” First they look at the sire and their offspring for five generations (this is also done with the dam.) In the industry, most cows are classified by an independent classifier so we look at that score. Scores range from a rating of fair, good, very good, or excellent. At Arethusa, they are looking to match excellent sires with excellent dams.
Arethusa Farms has taken it even one step further. The milk that their cows produce goes directly into the creamery which produces cheese, butter, ice cream and yogurt. They also bottle their own milk, getting it to customers as fresh as possible. Arethusa Farms motto is “We make milk like it used to taste.” In short, their excellent care results in excellent products. Arethusa is truly a farmstead; meaning all of their products are made with milk from their own farm.
When you are in the Litchfield Connecticut area, stop by and visit the cows and take home some of their fresh milk. Arethusa Farms is located at 822 Bantam Road, Bantam, Connecticut.