The sign in the barn at Arethusa Farm says it all: “Every cow in this barn is a lady, please treat her as such.”
Manager Matt Senecal and his crew understand that to create award-winning dairy products, you have to have the best milk, and the best milk comes from the best cows. And his cows, he says, are the best and get the best, in terms of feed, bedding and all the rest.
Located in the rolling pastures of Litchfield Hills, Arethusa Farm believes in cow comfort, and maintains its purebred Jersey, Holstein and Brown Swiss cows following that mantra. Wide open barns, tunnel ventilation, stall mattresses, comfy bedding, and quality feed in front of all animals is evident. The local newspaper calls it “the Fifth Avenue of farms, the Barney’s of barns, the Saks of cow stalls.”
Arethusa Farm was established in 1999, when two executives from Manolo Blahnik (the stylish shoe brand made famous via the “Sex and the City” series) bought the property with the intent of restoring the farmland once owned by the Webster family. A few short years later in 2004, Arethusa made history at the World Dairy Expo where farm matriarchs Hillcroft Leader Melanie 3E 96 and Huronia Centurion Veronica EX97 were named supreme and reserve-supreme champion, respectively.
The pair are also proven winners at producing high-quality milk and those winning traits are being passed down through their many descendants. These traits, combined with deep pedigrees, keep their family members and genetics in high demand to this day. Offspring and genetics from these top quality cattle are sold throughout the world each year.
Senecal explains that the cow comfort philosophy is reflected in the high quality products sold as bottled milk, yogurt, ice cream, butter, and cheese at the dairy, local shops and restaurants. “We’ve taken an approach that promotes local agriculture, by producing quality products totally in-house. We have a processing plant to make our products locally and sell locally. We bottled our milk, we make our own ice cream.”
Arethusa Farm was named the 2013 Connecticut Dairy Farm of the Year and received a New England Green Pastures Award. The award is given every year to one outstanding dairy farm in each of the New England states, with winners evaluated on production records; herd, pasture, and crop management; environmental practices; contributions to agriculture and the local community; and overall excellence in dairying.
He sees the Green Pastures Award as testament to the success of the operation and its embrace of local agriculture. “To have won this is extremely special, considering we haven’t been in operation for very long, compared to others,” he said.
The company slogan may say it all: “Great milk comes from great cows, and great cows come from Arethusa.”
Ladies, take a cow – er, a bow…