Comté cows are the world’s most pampered and happy cows.

The famous Montbéliarde cattle, who produce the milk used in the making of the delicious French Comté cheese, are not only given personal names by some farmers but it is also decreed by law that they must have at least 21/2 acres of pasture land to graze on. The flavour of Comté cheese is completely unique, thanks to the diet of the cows being totally natural, and changing with the seasons.
They can’t be fed any kind of silage so instead, through the summer, they graze on beautiful pastures that are an array of different grasses and flowers; this creates a complexity and diversity in both tastes and aromas. A study that was held found 576 different varieties of plants growing in the pastures of 60 dairies that produced Comté cheese, and there was an average of 130 per dairy.
In the winter months, the cows are brought indoors where they are fed with hay that has been harvested on their farm. This diverse diet has an amazing effect on the quality of their milk, which then goes into the taste and colour of the cheese. When tasting Comté, there is a staggering 83 different flavours, but people often discover more.
The cows are milked mornings and evenings, and the milk has to be brought to the cheese dairy every day. In order to express the diversity of the soil and the types of grazing as best as possible, the foraging zone for each cheese dairy is limited to an area with a diameter of 15.5 miles.
It takes 450 litres to make a whole wheel of Comté, which can weigh up to 40kgs. A Montbéliarde cow produces about 20 litres at two milkings, and so 23 cows are necessary to produce just one round of Comté.
Farmer Jean-François Marmier, whose farm in the Jura mountains supplies milk that produces Comté, has already named each of his cows. His favourite is Celestine, who has her own special cow bell.
He also keeps his herd relaxed with hugs and massages to make them feel extra special. Jean-François added: “It’s very important that we keep each cow happy. A hug and a smile are simple little things that make a big difference to the herd. But we found that giving each cow a name has made them even more content, relaxed and productive. It’s quite remarkable.”
The cheese, which comes from the same Franche-Comté region as world-renowned chef and restaurateur Raymond Blanc, is one of France’s most popular cheeses. And it’s starting to get a reputation over here, with Blanc and Queen of Shops Mary Portas some of its favourite fans.
Nutty, creamy, fruity, peppery and toasty are just some of the notes you will come to love. It’s perfect on any cheeseboard, on its own or as part of other dishes like sandwiches, salads and fondue. It’s also one of the few cheeses that work well when accompanying both red and white wine. These factors make Comté a fantastically versatile cheese.