Carl Deutsch cautiously approaches Carla, a Flekvieh grazing on a hillside near Fehring, Austria, to pet her shoulder. Deutsch and his wife Andrea are Carla’s proud new “renters” through the Wurzinger family farm’s Kuh 4 You (Cow 4 You) program.

For a 150 ($170) annual payment, the Deutsches will receive four baskets loaded with cheese, curds, yogurt, spreads, and fresh milk—ostensibly, with a wink, from Carla—as well as the opportunity to visit Carla or call for updates.

Carla is patient, but unimpressed.

The Deutsches are more excited.

“It’s great to support regional farmers and to get regular product four times per year,” says Carl.

Andrea adds, “I get my meat from a farm, my vegetables, and now my milk and cheese, because I want to know where my food comes from.”

Ewald Wurzinger, Jr., who developed the program to promote his family’s Milchhof Wurzinger brand, says Carla is the 85th of the family’s 90-cow herd to be rented. Kuh 4 You has been a hit with customers throughout Austria and beyond, attracting interest from neighbors in nearby towns like the Deutsches as well as renters from Vienna, Berlin, and even Finland.

“People loved it,” says Wurzinger of the concept, launched in 2015 with a public relations campaign. “Suddenly the phone rang and it was a customer: ‘How is Heidi?’”

A couple of renters misunderstood the program, he admits.

“Two of them phoned me very angry that they already built up a fence: where is the cow?” he laughs.

Ewald Wurzinger, Jr., developed the Kuh 4 You program to promote his family’s cheese and yogurt, and to present a positive image of Austria’s dairy farms.

But diversification is serious business in Austria, where small farms like the Wurzingers’ struggle to find ways to survive. Many of their neighbors operate buschenschanks—traditional on-farm wine taverns—or rent rooms for farm stays. Another opened a Cow Cafe overlooking the stalls in its brand-new barn, while a nearby farmer built a slaughterhouse for local cull cows.

Milchhof Wurzinger first diversified into cheese and yogurt in 1996, carving out a niche serving area schools, retirement homes, and supermarkets.

Brand personality. “Kuh 4 You was just an idea to give the product itself a personality,” says Wurzinger. “If people hear ‘Kuh 4 You,’ they know its Wurzinger. It’s us. People know if they’re taking a bottle of milk in the supermarket, the milk is from Carla.”

Wurzinger is quick to point out that although it accounts for 20 to 23 percent of the farm’s output, the Kuh 4 You program isn’t a big money-maker. Each basket takes about a half-hour to prepare. Compared to delivering milk and yogurt to schools and stores, stocking shelves, and pulling products out of the markets as they approach their sell-by dates, the Kuh 4 You shipments are fairly efficient. But Wurzinger admits that he often adds a little extra to his Kuh 4 You packages to bulk them up, which obviously cuts into the margin.

The Styrian villages and volcanic landscape near Milchof Wurzinger are dazzling to view.

As he prepares to take over the farm next year, Wurzinger envisions expanding the current on-farm sales and Kuh 4 You visits into an engaging guest experience he calls “Cow-rassic Park,” where people from around Austria can learn about cows and dairy on the farm.

The first step is the family’s remodel of its manufacturing facility a few yards from their 1776 farmhouse. It features huge windows, inviting guests to watch their cheese and yogurt being made.

It’s diversification, it’s connection, and it’s a reflection of Wurzinger’s passion for promoting dairy farming.

“I want to clean up the image of the cow,” he says. “I want for every farmer to be honored by his customers.”

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