By Laura Rodley
At Barstow’s Longview Farm in Hadley, MA they serve their own beef as hamburgers on their special Burger Night at Barstow’s Dairy Store and Bakery from May through September. The meat contains no antibiotics, steroids or hormones.
The farm store is the only place anyone can buy the beef that the Barstow family has been raising and selling since 2009, shortly after the store opened in 2008. Over 150 to 200 people attend the light-hearted Burger Night.
Denise Barstow, seventh-generation dairy farmer, said, “It’s fun. It’s a chance for people to eat burgers, something not usually on the menu.”
They have 550 Holsteins, the breed chosen as their dairy cows. They raise 20 of the Holsteins a year as steers. “They are born and raised on the farm, right alongside their sisters,” said Barstow. There are 10 to 15 calves born a month, and for beef, only the strongest bull calves are kept.
Bull calves are neutered by the vet at four or five months. “They think they’re girls. Because they are together, they are more sustainably raised, not taking up any extra space or land.” They are kept with the dry cows awaiting birth of new calves in a separate barn, away from the milking cows and five Lely Astronaut A4 Robotic Milkers. The steers have access to the outdoor pasture for foraging after the age of 12 months and come in and out of the barn at will for the next year and a half.
“They eat what the girls are eating, entirely from the land that we farm. [It’s] a mix of corn, hay, alfalfa, and clovers, with additional grain,” of a soy blend. Therefore, the beef contains a higher fat content than solely grassfed beef, allowing for superior taste and grilling capacity.