Tonya will never be a sprinter, but the purebred Jersey was ‘fast enough’ to be the first cow into the pasture at Meadow Lynn Farms Thursday night.
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‘Who Let the Cows Out?’ first started in 2016 at the dairy farm south of Simcoe on Decou Road.
“Tonya is an old veteran, but I don’t think she’s had a chance to be first out before,” said Meadow Lynn Farms’ Thomas Judd. “She’s always been in our milking barn – and these are, of course, our heifers and our dry cows.”
Friends, family and visitors from the community tried to guess which cow would be the first to reach the pasture, a tradition that goes back many years at the farm.
“My dad and I would guess who would be the first one out in the spring from the door of the barn, so it’s little bit of heritage in that sense,” said Thomas. “Now we offer that as a family experience and I think it’s great that everyone is partaking in it.”
Thursday’s event included live music by The Shrubberies, prizes, and a potluck dinner.
“It grows every year, it’s fantastic, and we could not be happier with it,” said Thomas. “This is our first year having live music, which is great.”
“It really just marks the passing of spring for me because it’s such an annual event that we celebrate as a family here on the farm,” said Sarah Judd. “It’s quite a humble event because we get to let the cows out and appreciate their beauty and spend time with them in the spring, but it’s nice to be able to share that with everyone else as well.”
“Letting the cows out for the first time onto fresh grass, it’s fantastic,” said Thomas. “We are the lucky ones, as farmers, that get to see it every year and we wanted to share it with some more people, so we thought putting it on social media was something we could do.”
It wasn’t long before they turned it into in-person event at Meadow Lynn Farms.
“We saw some YouTube videos online from small farms in Europe that do it, and so we thought why not do it here,” said Sarah. “We invited all of our farm families that come out for strawberries or for our vegetable box program, and it just kind of grew from there. So we started inviting members of the public. It was just a lovely event.”
“We have a community that supports us, that is family oriented, so it made a lot of sense to invite them out and see the cows on the pasture for the first time,” said Thomas.
“We are very thrilled that so many people came out today,” said Sarah.
Twenty-eight cows took part in this year’s Who Let the Cows Out, including 26 purebred Jerseys, one Holstein and one Guernsey. Meadow Lynn Farms also has 60 milking cows.
“We’ve had Jersey cows for over 75 years now here at Meadow Lynn Farms,” Thomas noted. “My grandfather and his father, started Meadow Lynn Farms back in 1946.”
The cows will be able to return to the barn ‘if they want to,’ said Thomas.
“They are allowed in if the want to. Usually if it’s nice and calm, if it’s a nice night, they will be up on top of the (pasture) hill.
“New space, new noise, anything that is new especially for an animal, will cause a burst of energy. And that’s essentially what you are seeing here – this is a new space for a lot of these cows. If they are in a herd setting, they will showcase it as such, you’ll see the playful jumping back and forth. Once they get a sense of the space, understanding how big it is, everybody’s calm, and they will start to graze.”