If you're a regular reader, likely you're familiar with my “mix-up” posts where I pull together a variety of nutrition/real foodie-related articles and information to keep you updated on the latest and for your reading pleasure. 🙂 Today I've got a few topics to discuss that are specifically related to raw milk… And you'll even learn what Sally Fallon Morell feeds her cows!
1. A Horrible Raw Milk Video
- Please add your comments there and give it a thumbs down.
- Then give all the comments below that you do like a thumbs UP.
- In your comment you might suggest people get the real facts at RealMilk.com.
- Or you could re-word what I commented: If you'd like to know the “other side”, and learn how beneficial clean raw milk can be, there are a couple very informative videos here from Mark McAfee, owner of Organic Pastures Dairy in California.
- Or share your own experience with raw milk!
2. Are Conventional Dairies ALL Bad?
A while back I posted the following on my Facebook page:
There is a large difference, nutritionally, between milk from pastured cows and primarily grain-fed cows, particularly in fat-soluble vitamins A, D, K2, and Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA). The difficulty in sourcing non-GMO grain (corn and soy) is a real concern as well, not only because GMO's have not been adequately studied for safety in long-term studies, but because they are heavily tainted with herbicides (the EPA recently raised the level of allowable glyphosate–Roundup–to accommodate the vastly increasingly levels of chemicals that are needed to combat the increasingly chemical-resistant weeds). Raw vs. pasteurized is a whole other huge issue with milk, as is the inhumane aspect of conventional dairy operations with cows in confinement. RealMilk.com is a campaign of the WAPF to educate people on raw milk and where to source it.”
A reader who owns a conventional dairy responded with this:
A lot of dairies, including ours, pay a lot of attention to cow comfort. Last year we redid nearly all of our free stalls with brand new mats, increasing cow comfort. A lot of our heifers and dry cows are outside when weather permits. In the summer we rent extra pasture too so that they can be outside. And actually, a lot of dairies actually have water beds in the barns for their cows. And when given the choice to stay in or go out, a lot of cows will stay in. When we want the cows to go out, it is sometimes hard to get them to, because well, they like their stalls and don't want to leave. I am not kidding. A lot of cows will get sick if their diet does not remain balanced, and there is about 1800 pounds of hay in our balanced diet, which is more nutritious for the cows. And yes, I know cows on pasture look pretty. Don't get me wrong, I love looking out my kitchen window, seeing the cows grazing. But trust that their (the cows') well-being is always first and foremost on any dairy producers mind. Regardless of inside or out, dairy producers work hard, day in and day out, to provide a safe and nutritious product to our consumers, you included. And on top of that, they work hard to do everything humanly possible to make sure that their cows are taken care of, rain, sleet, snow or shine. They have a passion for their work that is unmatched.”
I can definitely appreciate that conventional dairy operations are not ALL run like an inhumane animal factory, and some very good people are just doing their best to make a living, but still this comes to mind:
It's all mixed together in the same milk truck…
What I can't help but think about in reading what she said again, though, is that even from these better-than-average conventional farms – ALL their milk gets mixed together with the milk from the NOT so great farms. Someone I know told me of a farm near them with MULTIPLE citations for unsafe, inhumane, and unsanitary conditions, and they're still getting their milk picked up in the same truck that picks up the milk from the dairies where the farmers actually take good care of their cows, and off it goes to be pasteurized and sold in the store.
That's why I still recommend getting your milk straight from a local farmer whenever possible. Read more here.
I learn a lot from a WAPF chapter leader group I follow (even though I'm no longer a local chapter leader) and received permission to share the following stream that I thought you might be interested in, especially if you run a raw milk dairy OR get your milk at one.
You'll learn that in certain areas, or in other specific conditions, it may not always be possible to have the cows on a 100% grass diet:
So, I've recently been learning about the extent of glyphosate use (read what is glyphosate here and what's the big deal), and that it's even found in non-GMO grains. 🙁 Our milk farmer uses non-GMO corn, along with grass and hay, to feed their cows. I'd LOVE to find a 100% grass fed source, but there isn't one in our state any more. How much of a concern is this with milk? I have also realized recently that I am extremely intolerant to dairy, and I'm wondering if this could be a factor. Any insight?
Another chapter leader:
The use of corn isn't necessary at all. You might put your farmer in touch with prideandjoydairy.com. The owner, Allan, will happily share with him how to achieve healthy cows and organic raw milk with average butterfat above 5% without the use of any grains. (But, grain isn't the only problem. Vaccines are allowed in organic operations and some are made from glyphosate-sprayed crops. Allan doesn't vaccinate and he doesn't need to, because his cows are perfectly healthy due to their nutritious diet. It is possible to raise healthy beef without a vaccination program. We and my friends raise our beef cows without vaccinations. We don't get the usual stuff that even the vaccinated cows get, like pink eye, etc.)
I think part of the issue with going 100% grass fed is that they don't have adequate pasture land? There were other issues too. I guess the cows didn't produce long enough on grass (need to be rested more often?). It was their impression that they needed a much bigger farm with more cows to rotate in order to manage 100% grass fed. They are a small farm, just a couple cows. We used to have a larger farm a little farther away that was 100% grass fed and organically managed (and certified), but no more. I figure some grain is better than not having access to raw milk. I'm questioning that now though. I appreciate your input.
Sally Fallon Morell:
Speaking from experience, it is very hard to make a living producing raw milk if you only feed grass. The cows get painfully thin, and yes, you need a lot more pasture per cow. We give a couple scoops of our soaked grain mix at milking and it has made all the difference–cows are sleek and filled out, much hardier (cold tolerant) much less mastitis, and greater yield.
Sally, will you please tell us what’s in your grain mix? And do you just soak it in water & salt, or something else? How long does it soak before feeding it to the cows?
Interesting. My farmer says the following and I wonder I what's the difference in feeding if some need the grain and others don't? “My healthy herd of grass-fed cows have provided me a living for the last eleven years and eat no grain whatsoever. My cows are very hardy, I have almost no mastitis and in my opinion what you feed the cow shouldn’t always be about the yield.”
The difference could be in the grass, because Allan has over 500 of the healthiest dairy cows, does not vaccinate, and feeds absolutely no grain. His organic milk is not only the best, but has the highest butter fat content. I get a couple of gallons from a couple of hand milked cows once in awhile and half of a gallon is cream at 11.25% butterfat. We use it for ice cream. Our beef cows eat grass only in the summer and organic grass hay, the same hay Allan feeds his dairy cows, and the last beef I processed had 5/8″ backfat and the meat was marbled throughout and very tender.
Thanks so much for chiming in Sally. This is exactly what my farmer does, and it has made the same differences.
I have seen farmers, like the Newswangers in PA, succeed with grass only, but they are the exception. I used to give a little (usually soaked) grain to my cows at milking time, and they definitely did better with it. A small amount is not going to disturb the gut microbiology. For me it was never about yield, but about the bodily condition of the cow.
My raw dairy farmer here in Wisconsin is grain free. The cows give less milk so he raised his prices when he went to grain free. His herd is now mostly Jerseys instead of Holsteins. I have heard that Jerseys do better on grain free than Holsteins do.
Quality of the grass is paramount. Ours improved over the years and our jersey girls increased in butterfat, but this will also greatly fluctuate according to season and where they are in the lactation cycle. Is this with milking once/day or twice/day? We have a farmer here who milks once/day and his cream content is higher.
Allan milks his cows once per day.
Sally Fallon Morell:
Here it is, we developed this with the help of Jerry Brunetti–we were probably his last client. He recommended beet pulp as cows need pectin, but all sugar beets today are genetically modified, so we finally settled on coconut meal. (The beet pulp that you can buy to give to your cows all comes from the sugar beet industry, and this is 99% GMO. BTW, it's the sugar beets that they get pulp from that are all GMO, not the beets we buy in the store.)
OUR DAIRY MIX PER COW — Soaked Overnight in Water
- ½ scoop coconut meal
- ½ scoop grain mix
(equal parts freshly ground sorghum, barley and field peas)
- 1 teaspoon GrowPal (sea minerals)
- 5 ounces Terra Gran EM (essential microorganisms)
- 2 ounces fossil shell flour
- 2 ounces vinegar
- 1 ounce molasses
- 2 ounces Dynamin (edible clay)
- 2 ounces WinterMun (vitamins)
- 1 tsp probiotic
We milk once a day and the cream is 1/4-1/3 the bottle. We have mostly Jerseys.
Our farm had basically no topsoil when we bought it–gradually this is building, and it may be that eventually we could do it with no grain. But with grass only, our cows just looked so thin and we lost several, including one to pneumonia.
We started this mix 2 years ago. Last year it was so cold and one night is was -10 degrees, but we didn't lose a single cow.
More articles you may be interested in:
- Trans Fats, Schmans Fats! Here’s What You REALLY Want to Avoid: Why Glyphosate is Dangerous and Much Worse
- Two from David Gumpert: Which Mainstream Media Will Update W.VA Raw Milk Illness Stories? and Behind CDC’s Raw Milk Probe: More Doubts About CA Illness