Mon, Oct 29, 2012 - Page 12 News List

Sacred cows

FourWays Ranch, an independent dairy farm, raises its own cattle and has its own pasture, priding itself on being an operation that takes its milk from grass to cow to consumer

By Ian Bartholomew  /  Staff reporter

Tsai’s background was originally in textiles, but in 1989, he decided he couldn’t compete with Chinese manufacturers and changed direction and entered the dairy business. “Our family had always raised cattle and I have always liked the animals,” he said of his decision. “And there is no secret recipe for milk. It is all about how the animals are cared for and how they eat.”

FourWays places great emphasis on the care of its animals, and visitors are welcomed at the ranch to see conditions for themselves.

FourWays does not claim that its milk is organic, and Tsai has no time for the vague label of “non-toxic” (無毒), which he regards as no more than a gimmick. “Our pasture is our own and is cared for without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides, but I cannot guarantee that everything the cows eat is organic,” he said, while affirming his total commitment to producing milk of as pure a quality as possible. “When cattle become sick, of course we give them antibiotics to cure them,” he said, “but we make sure that milk from these cattle is poured away until the medication has cleared their system. Smaller ranchers (supplying the milk to the big dairies) may not always be so conscientious.”

The operations at FourWays are open to the public, something that Tsai said resulted from “consumer tours” provided by the Homemaker’s Union as a service to its discerning clientele, many of whom like to gain a more detailed knowledge of the food they buy than what’s written on the packet. His willingness to allow visitors is also a testament to the care with which his animals are treated, as well as the beautiful environment of the farm, located in what was formally a restricted area in the vicinity of an army artillery base.

The pristine conditions, created as a result of former restrictions on development on military-controlled land, have resulted in a small-scale tourism enterprise at the ranch. Visitors to FourWays can not only view cattle, feed ever-hungry calves and be instructed in the dairy’s operations by obliging and informative guides, but also enjoy a picnic or a restaurant lunch, as well as taste many of the farm’s products, which range from steamed milk bread to gouda and mozzarella cheese.

Information about FourWays, its products, and its home delivery service can be found on its Web site at www.fourways.com.tw.

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