Right from its foundation in 1794 Westmalle abbey has been a farm. In the beginning the monks carried out arable farming and dairy farming. But since 1932 all the attention has been on dairy farming. Currently the herd mainly consists of Groningse Blaarkop, a species originating from Groningen in the Netherlands. During the summer, these cows can be seen in the fields around the monestary.
The stable has room for about 300 animals: 100 dairy cows as well as young stock and bulls. The Groningse Blaarkop gives birth easily so that the peace of the abbey is hardly disturbed.
For more than 15 years the animals have been accommodated in a modern tether barn that has many advantages over the loose barn, used for 20 years. The cows are less scared, and less stressed. In such a barn old cows remain productive for longer. And what is very important for the abbey: better contact with the animals is possible in a tether barn. Animal welfare is central here.
Dhe cows are milked twice a day in a nine-unit tandem milking shed. The monks add a further animal-friendly touch here: during milking the animals are given pleasant music to listen to. The bulk of the milk goes to the abbey’s cheese making, operation while the rest is sold to the dairy trade.