From cowshed to milking

To make milk you need cows

Some children in the city believe that milk comes right from the bottle. Guess what, you need cows instead!

To get high quality milk - and high quality cheeses as consequence - feeding them with good hay and milking them is not enough. They need constant and demanding care.

The breeder has a long day ahead of him

The day starts early for the breeder: he has to go into the cowshed and to milk the cows at 4:30 in the morning. Sometimes cows are a bit sleepy themselves, therefore they are coaxed into getting up. This because the picker can’t wait: he has to take milk to the dairy within 2 hours of milking. You can’t improvise, you can’t say “I’ll do it later”!
The freshly drawn milk is immediately analyzed to make sure it complies with  the Consortium quality standards.
The second milking takes place at 16:30 in the afternoon. Again, milk is taken to the dairy in due time (which is carefully recorded). Here, milk will rest all night. The day after, it will be mixed with fresh milk to make Parmigiano Reggiano.

VitelliniMore than milking
The work doesn’t end with milking. On the contrary, you need to clean the cowshed,  the premises and tools and to feed the animals.
The breeder knows his every single animal and he immediately understands if something is wrong: just by observing its way of moving and how it holds its head, he can tell a cow mood and health. If a cow isn’t well, the milk quality will suffer. The healthier the animals are, the better the cheese will be.
The farrier trims the cow hooves and the vet does ordinary and extraordinary checks, just like family friends would.
You need to handle pregnant cows, from fecundation to every other pregnancy stage (the cow won’t start milking until the calf is born). Furthermore, you need to look after the newborns and to deal with all unexpected events. Thus working day grows longer and longer, from 12 hours to 15 hours!

CoccoleEach cow has a name and… a character!
To make Parmigiano Reggiano  you can use different breeds of cow. Once in our valleys was common a kind of Brown Cow (Bruna), curiously called “White”, that now is replaced by Italian Brown Cow (Bruna italiana). Then the Friesians (Frisona) followed, because they were easily reared and produced more. Other breeds produce good milk too, whose peculiarities are slightly different: fatter or richer in casein and other nutrients. These work well together to give Parmigiano a range of various and completed tastes.
Not only breeds are varied, but there are different cows in the same breeding too. Some are lazy, others shy, shadowy or friendly. Every cow has a character that the breeder must acknowledge and respect in order to make the most of it.

PaesaggioVarsiMountain milk: a quality choice
If you want to produce a great amount of milk… you can’t live in the mountains! 
Here, the making of Parmigiano Reggiano  is a challenge
; likewise, the breeders’ life - once ordinary - nowadays is a quality choice that allows them to personally supervise the whole production chain, from the field to the cheese.
The Battistero Dairy is a member of The Quality Milk Consortium, that is based on more controls and uses a points system to reward the breeders with the best milk.
Some breeders are members of The Breeders’ Association, that examines the characteristics of every single cow’s milk.

> What happens next? The tale goes on with "The milk voyage".

Thanks to Gabriella and Marino Marenghi from Segrati Farm for the precious informations.


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