Farming Practices for Raw Milk

 

We raise only purebred Guernsey cows for milk, as they have been bred for hundreds of years to produce the highest quality milk on a pasture-based diet. 

 

Guernsey milk from grass-fed cows has a much higher butterfat and protein content than store-bought milk, which makes it ideal for producing rich, great tasting milk, yogurt, butter, cheese, ice cream and kefir.

 

The unique qualities of Guernsey milk have always been highly sought after due to recognized health benefits.  In fact, the unique golden color of Guernsey milk comes from an unusually high content of beta carotene passed through to their milk.  The more grass they eat, the more golden their milk.

 

Guernsey milk is richer in proteins, butterfat, and flavor than store-bought milk products, including pasteurized white milk.  When you drink Guernsey milk, you get:

     12% more protein
     33% more vitamin D
     25% more vitamin A
     30% more cream
     15% more calcium

 

In addition, over 90% of Guernsey cows produce the A2 Beta Casein protein in their milk, whereas 98% of the commercial pasteurized milk sold in the U.S. comes from A1 cows (mostly Holsteins).  While we have not genetically tested our individual cows for A2 milk, we have confirmed that all of their sires were A2/A2, and all of our calves are sired by A2/A2 bulls. 

Research conducted by Dr. Keith Woodford and highlighted in his book The Devil in the Milk shows a direct correlation between a population's exposure to A1 cow's milk and the incidence of autoimmune disease, heart disease, type 1 diabetes, autism, and schizophrenia.  To learn more about A1 vs. A2 milk and the potential health implications, please read this excellent article summarizing Dr. Woodfords findings.

 

Our Guernsey cows spend their day outdoors on pasture year round.  In the winter when there is minimal forage to eat, the majority of their diet is high quality, locally-grown non-GMO alfalfa and timothy grass hay.  We also supplement their pasture forage and hay with a small amount of certified organic, soy-free dairy ration from Cashton Farm Supply at milking time.  They also have free-choice access to organic kelp, sea salt, and other trace mineral supplements in their winter shelter. 

 

The only health aid we provide is raw apple cider vinegar, which we place in their drinking water every day.  This improves their digestive system functions, reduces internal parasites, staves off infections, and even keeps the flies away.  It's good for people too!

 

At milking time in the morning and evening, we call the girls in from the pasture, where we have some hay available to snack on while we milk them four at a time in the new milking parlor we built inside the historic Brunner Barn. We carefully clean each teat with anti-microbial teat wipes.  Unlike most other farms, we then hand-strip a few ounces of milk from each quarter into a testing cup, where we can visually inspect the milk for any discoloration or signs of mastitis, then we place a small amount of CMT (California Mastitis Test) reagent into each cup and see if there is a reaction.  If there is we know that the somatic cell count in that quarter may indicate an infection and we can withhold the infected quarter's milk from our tank and consider any treatment options.  We are one of only a handful of farms in the state that test each cow's milk prior to milking.

 

After we test their milk, w then then dip each teat in a 1% iodine teat dip, finally wiping them clean with a fresh paper towel before attaching the milking machine. Careful cleaning of the teats is critical in any raw milk operation.

 

The milk travels from the cows to our chillling tank in a few minutes through our stainless steel pipeline system, where it passes through a disposable paper filter to our MilkPlan chiller tank, which cools the milk from 101 degrees Fahrenheit to approximately 36 degrees F in about 20-30 minutes.  The bulk tank also has an automatic stirrer which agitates the milk every 15 minutes to keep the cream from separating and settling at the top. Our regular milk customers then fill their jars/containers directly from the bulk tank when they come for their weekly pickup.

 

We do not use any routine antibiotics, chemical dewormers, or hormones (including bovine growth hormone rBGH) in our beef or dairy cattle.  In situations where one of the dairy cows develops a severe infection in their udder (mastitis) or when an animal's life is in danger, we may judiciously use antibiotics if there are no other homeopathic treatments available. In cases where we do use antibiotics we will withhold their milk from the tank for a minimum of 4 days.

 

When the dairy cows have calves, we allow the calf to nurse from it's mama and stay with her (or a nurse cow) until they are at least 6-7 months old so they have 24 hour access to the highest quality food designed by nature (their mama's milk) and also learn to graze and develop their digestive systems for a life on pasture.

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