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The Cows

Of course, there would be no Hook & Son without our lovely cows! From the beginning, we have considered our Friesian cows’ welfare and health to be of paramount importance. Due to our cows being under as little stress and pressure as possible, our Hailsham herd produces less milk than the UK average, but the quality of the milk is high as it can be. It also means our cows are far less prone to stress-related cattle health problems such as mastitis and lameness. Indeed, our cows on average live to be eight or nine years old, compared to the national average of six years old.

three cows

Phil started the Hailsham Herd in 1959. Our Friesian Holstein herd has several cow families, some still going strong today such as the Kate, Ida, Teena, Biddy and Rowena families. We know the cows individually, who their mother was, at what stage the cow is in her lactation, how old she is and so on. We can even recognise each cow purely by its markings! The herd is a closed herd which means we rear all our own dairy cows from our own cow families, and do not buy in replacement heifers (young cows) or cows from other farms. 

Within the herd, the cows have their own social structure and pecking order – and because each cow knows her own place within the herd, this allows the different characters in the herd to shine through! Let’s meet a few of those characters ...


We consider the cows' welfare and health to be paramount. Cows in a conventional herd produce nearly 50% more milk than our cows. This means our Kates, Idas, Biddys and Rowenas and Rubys are not under so much pressure and stress. Our cows benefit from this lower yield and lower stress by not being prone to stress related cattle health problems, such as mastitis and lameness. Indeed, our cows on average live to be eight or nine years old, compared to the national average of six years old.


When a new female (heifer) Friesian calf is born, it is reared on the farm. When it is mature enough, the heifer is put into calf, and has her first calf at about two and a half years old. After calving, her new milk production begins with her first lactation. Our milkman/milkwoman milk her twice a day. The lactation lasts for ten months. She then has her holiday, two months on the ancient pastures of the Pevensey Levels and a rest from being milked. This is known as her dry period, before calving again and starting the next lactation. A dairy cow has one calving and one lactation each year.


Every spring, we host a Turn Out Day on the farm, where the public can see our cows being let into the field for the first time after spending all winter indoors. The cows stampede and leap like deer upon entering the field, they put on quite a show! The event also includes a range of market stalls, a BBQ with Hook & Son burgers and sausages, and tractor-and-trailer rides down to the marsh ... a great day out for the whole family! Get tickets for our next Turn Out Day soon.

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