About 250 Jersey calves were born at Pacific Pastures this winter, joining their fellow free range cows in the largest dairy in Clatsop County.

It’s been about a year since David and Cathy Gasquoine of New Zealand took on operations of the farm on Seppa Road in Astoria.

“Looking around, you could easily be in New Zealand,” David Gasquoine said, adding that both places have economies based in agriculture, fishing, forestry and tourism.

“The pastures here are a lot like what we have at home,” Cathy Gasquoine added.

In September 2020, Pacific Pastures became a member of Tillamook County Creamery Association, the cooperative of dairy farmers who produce milk that becomes Tillamook ice cream, cheese and yogurt. At the same time, the farm name was changed from Cowan Dairy to Pacific Pastures.

“Getting Tillamook membership is very successful for a business and we had to comply with the conditions of membership,” David Gasquoine said. These conditions required them to upgrade their milk parlor and the general aesthetics of the farm.

The Gasquoines have been self-employed farmers for 40 years and run a dairy farm and a dairy support block in the Waikato region of North Island, New Zealand.

“It’s a great lifestyle,” Cathy Gasquoine said of farming.

“I was brought up on a farm myself,” David Gasquoine added. “I don’t think I ever wanted to do anything else.”

The couple has two adult children in New Zealand who are also involved in agriculture, as well as a grandson.

Pacific Pastures’ parent company, Free Range Dairy, asked the Gasquoines to go to Oregon on a two-year contract to run the farm. Free Range Dairy has more than 24,800 cows across four hubs, including Pacific Pastures, two in New Zealand and one in Missouri.

Pacific Pastures itself has 1,050 cows that produce up to 12,000 pounds of milk per cow per year. The cows graze outside on the 650 acres of pasture land during the spring and summer and stay inside a spacious barn during the winter months when the ground conditions get too wet to provide enough minerals and nutrients.

“It’s a more sustainable model,” David Gasquoine said. “We use the pastures as the predominant feed source, and we have some supplemental feed but that’s minimal.”

After their two-year contract is up, the Gasquoines plan to return home to New Zealand and leave Pacific Pastures in local hands.

“We’re hoping we’re going to be able to provide opportunities for young American people to be involved in the farm,” David Gasquoine said. He said high school and college students interested in learning about agriculture are welcome to reach out to him via email at tekereru.farm@xtra.co.nz.

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