Why Ayrshires? A partial answer is it’s a family tradition. Audrey Gay Rodgers is the 3rd generation in this family of Ayrshire breeders. She and her father moved the entire Plum Bottom (the registered animal’s first name) milking herd to the Hameau Farm in the late ‘80s then hosted two dispersals in 2001 and 2002. Cows and bulls from that herd still finish well in the Show Ring. Plum Bottom Trident’s Paris is now 4E and has All-American status. Bulls from our herd are still used in American breeding (and around the world). They include: Plum Bottom Trident’s Lot, Plum Bottom Reward Lennon, Plum Bottom Nampa B.B. and Plum Bottom Taurus S Petey. Calves kept and raised from that original herd are now calving and being used as the basis for the next generation of Plum Bottom milkers. These girls keep will keep up the traditions!
For another part of the answer one must consider the history of the Ayrshire cow to glean insight as to why Gay finds this breed so intriguing. The philosophy of farming at Hameau Farm is grass-based. And it has been said of the Ayrshire cow that she is “an indefatigable searcher for the last bite in a pasture.” (New York Times article dated 1883!) This breed was developed prior to the 1800s in county Ayr, near Glasgow, in Scotland. Thrifty, read Scottish, farmers at the time, also grass farmers, “wanted a dairy cow with a healthy constitution to withstand the rugged highland weather and an ability to make an economic return on scanty rations". These girls are hearty and tenacious!
And yet another part of the answer lies in the beauty of the Ayrshire cow. From the United Kingdom Herd Book, here is the description of an Ayrshire, “a medium-sized, red-and-white breed with high milk production capacity. Of special note are the superior shape and quality of the cow’s remarkably formed udders and the fact that their milk is excellent for making butter and cheese". Red-and-white on lush green pastures is breathtaking no matter the season (Just ask any artist who attends our workshops). And high butterfat and protein for a quality cheese product, a yet-to-be realized goal of Gay and her bovines. Beauty and quality components all in one package, these girls are keepers at Hameau Farm!