At Ballymaloe Cookery School we have 12 cows - a mix of dairy cows and suckler cows - who graze contentedly on organic pastures with lots of clover. As we are a fully certified organic farm, we never use artificial fertilisers, which means that these animals are being fed the very best diet! This is immediately obvious in the quality of the produce they provide us with.
Our 5 dairy cows include 3 Jersey and 2 Friesian/Jersey cross. They are milked every morning at our own dairy and provide us with enough milk to supply the cookery school with milk and rich Jersey cream. We use the remainder for our own homemade butter, yoghurt buttermilk and cheese which are all on sale at The Farm Shop. Visitors on The Farm Walk will meet them beyond The Glasshouses. They are very friendly and love to suck your fingers! If they wish, students on our 12 Week Certificate may get involved with bringing the Jerseys in for their morning milking with Eileen O'Donovan.
The 3 breeds of suckler cows we keep on the farm include 3 Kerry (a traditional Irish breed), 1 Dexter (a minature animal) and 3 Aberdeen Angus.
The quality of grass that these cows eat is absolutely essential to the flavour of the beef. Farmers and craft butchers are of one mind that there is a considerable and distinct difference with the meat from well reared animals. Organic meat is not only firmer in texture, it also smells quite different when cooked!
Do you know these common beef terms?
Calf: the young offspring of a cow and a bull
Veal: the meat from a calf. More often these are the male animals of dairy breeds and will never give milk
Heifer: female animal who hasn’t had a calf yet
Cow: mature female animal of the family Bovidae. Raised for dairy, beef or both.
Bull Calf: young male animal
Bullock or Steer: a castrated bull
Bull: mature male adult of the family Bovidae. Raised for beef or dairy breeding.
Ox: a bovine animal used as a draught animal, often an adult, castrated male.
Q: What is one way to tell a Kerry from an Angus?
A: Kerrys have horns. Angus do not.