We were very lucky to be joined by Jenny Butcher and Wes Kuntz from Little Brown Cow on The Back 40 podcast. They spoke to our host, Mike Brine, about the history of their operation, their passion for agriculture and how a viral Tik-Tok has impacted their farm. They now use their following to educate the public about their herd, day-to-day activities on the farm, the industry, and their customers!
Below is a highlight of the full interview with Jenny & Wes. You can listen to the entire podcast episode on your favourite player or app including Spotify, Apple, Google, Amazon and Stitcher. Don’t forget to follow and/or subscribe to hear about all new episodes!
About Little Brown Cow Dairy
Little Brown Cow, established in 2015, started out as a renovated butcher shop that was converted into a cheese plant. The store consisted of a 12 x 12 office, which has now grown to be much larger. Everything in their store is from within 100km of the property and 100% of their milk is processed and sold directly from their property. They currently milk between 60 – 70 jersey cows in a sand bedded free stall and a swing seven parlor.
Wes – “They are the most beautiful cow. They’re the most efficient feed converters, which is cool. Especially when you’re starting [out] with limited resources. And most importantly, they make the highest quality milk of any bovine breed. When we go to make 2000 liters worth of cheese in our cheese plant, we end up with 80 more kilos of cheese every time for the exact same amount of work, the exact same amount of investment in the plant.”
Jenny – “We also wanted to, in our own way, change the way that people look at and interact with their food. We made it so that people could come to our store, buy our products, and then have the actual farm experience where they could come and see a real working farm. This is a farm that people can see, and it is just the way it is. It’s completely transparent. People can come and see the animals and ask any questions. For the customers, it just it is the way that it is. So, we really wanted people to have that connection with their food.”
Milk. Milk. Good Milk. Very Good Milk. Milk.
Those simple words over a video showing their products and store sign created an overwhelming amount of support for their family run dairy operation.
On a regular Friday at the end of March they were suddenly overwhelmed with numerous groups of people visiting their store. Jenny asked one of them what was going on and they chuckled, pulled out their phones and showed her the video. That Friday night they had around 150 phone calls asking where they were located and what they had available? Early Saturday morning their first customer bought 40 litres and they knew they were in for a different day.
Around 1000 people visited and another 400 calls were received to the farm that Saturday. Brampton, Woodstock, Downtown Toronto, Mississauga, Niagara, Windsor and a few calls asking about their franchise in Calgary (PS they don’t have one). Only two hours into the day they realized they were going to run out of milk and still had hundreds of people waiting hours in line at their store. Jenny had an idea.
Jenny – “Why don’t we go milk the cows? We milked the cows, while they all waited. We pasteurized, while they all waited. And it only gave us 350 liters more milk, [which] was all sold within half an hour. For the next week, we were on a cycle of having to milk at 1:00 in the morning [to] ensure that we would start the day with a full tank of milk. It looked like that for about 8 weeks until people realized we weren’t going to run out”
Outstanding Young Farmers Experience
The OYF is a unique program that has been designed to recognize farmers between the ages of 18 – 39 who exemplify excellence in their profession. There are a lot of farmers doing some exceptional work on their farms and to promote agriculture.
Jenny – “We always strive to do the best we can. The fact that somebody nominated us and noticed that we’re trying to do the best job and showcase how we do things maybe a little differently than other people was a pleasant experience.”
Wes Kuntz – “We legitimately wanted to change the food system. We had big dreams. We weren’t sure how we would get there. And, you know, we know of processors that virtually 100% of people in their community drink their milk. It’s almost an abomination to drink anything else. Right? We’re not to that point yet. Branford’s quite large, but. But maybe we could get there someday.”
Learn More/Any Updates
Jenny and Wes went on to win at the National level in 2021 (full press release here). You can learn more about nominating a farmer or the Outstanding Young Farmers Program here. They continue to manage and operate a full farm store that stocks a wide variety of Ontario products, eight full time staff and two chefs that prepare an array of frozen meals! You can visit Little Brown Cow Dairy at 234 Cockshutt Rd, Brantford, ON and make sure to follow them on Facebook or Instagram.