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The Role Local Farmers Play in Cheese Production

Do you know where your milk and cheese come from?  Do you ever think about that?  

I grew up within walking distance of a dairy farm and was familiar from an early age of the role cows play in providing our milk and cheese.  

As time has gone by I've given little thought to the source of my milk and cheese.  As a result, I would answer the question, where does my milk and cheese come from with the rather short, but flip answer, the grocery store.

A Cow Farm in Rhode Island
Ocean Breeze Farm
Last weekend, the Ocean Breeze Farm, the same one very near to my childhood home, hosted an open house in partnership with Cabot Cheese.   It was one of 50 farms across the Northeast and Upstate New York to open its barns to the local community.  

Cabot Creamery hosts and open House at Ocean Breeze Farm

Ocean Breeze Farm is owned by the Pancieras, and Frank Panciera, who you can see pictured on the Cabot Cheese label below, was on hand to greet his guests.

Cabot Cheese pepper jack cheese celebrates a local farmer.
Cabot Pepper Jack Cheese Label Featuring Ocean Breeze Farm

Ocean Breeze Farm is a member of the Agri-Mark Cooperative,  a Northeast dairy farm cooperative that is owned by 1,200 dairy farm families located throughout New England and Upstate New York.  The cooperative owns Cabot, a well-known New England brand, famous for its Vermont Cheddar and fresh creamery butter.  It also owns McCadam Cheese, from Upstate New York, which manufactures New York Cheddar, Muenster, and European-type cheeses.  The farms in this cooperative share in the profits from these brands based on the volume of milk they produce.

Doug, a member of the Agri-Mark Cooperative who was helping the Pancieras out for the day, gave me a tour of the cow barn and shared the information about the farm and Cooperative.  

Ocean Breeze Farm is a small dairy farm, with 26 cows, primarily Holsteins and Jerseys.  The Holsteins produce a greater quantity of milk than the Jerseys, but the Jerseys' milk has a higher butterfat content.

Jersey and Holstein Cows in a barn
Jersey Cow (Brown) and Holstein Cow (Black and White)

The cows on the Ocean Breeze Farm spend a great deal of time in the pasture but return to the barn for feeding and milking.  They each have their own stanchion.  You can see their heads peeking through the bars in the picture below.  All the cows were indoors for the open house so the guests could meet them up close and personal. 
Each cow has her own spot for eating.
One of the Cows
I asked Doug whether that was uncomfortable for them and he said that it allows for them to have their own water and food and enhances their safety in the barn.  While I was there, the cows were eating hay and it was clear that some were eating faster than the others.  

There is no competing for food here as each cow has its own.  When finished eating the cows lay down to chew their cud.   That's why you can see some standing and some laying down in the pictures.

Cows eating hay in a barn

Cows generally begin producing milk when they are two years old.  They'll produce milk for 12-14 months and then will have to begin another cycle by being bred.  The cows are milked twice a day with milking machines.  The milk flows through pipes (seen at the top of the picture above) to a holding tank where it is picked up every other day by an Agri-Mark truck.  

The milk from Ocean Breeze Farms is taken to facilities in Connecticut for production.

A handmade sign at a farm open house.

A handmade poster hung in the barn shared other interesting facts:
  • Cows chew their cud for up to 8 hours
  • A cow's average body temperature is 101.5 degrees
  • Cows weigh between 1300-1500 pounds
  • Calves weigh 80-100 pounds
  • Calves are fed milk until 8-9 weeks old
  • Cows have 207 bones
Thanks to the Panciera family of Ocean Breeze Farm for inviting the community to visit today.  

From now on I'll be sure to answer the question of where my milk and cheese come from with the answer, Ocean Breeze Farm and the 1,200 farms in the Agri-Mark Cooperative.

This is NOT a sponsored post.


  1. So glad you enjoyed your visit and thanks for sharing your experience. We take great pride in the farm families who own Cabot. They are clearly the cornerstone of building the World's Best Cheddar!

  2. Thank you for sharing your trip at Ocean Breeze Farm!! I'm a bit bias but Illinois' cheese is rockin' towards being the World's Best Cheddar. ;)

    Have a moorvelous day!!
    Jenny ~ The Magic


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