Via RealMilk.com, Arkansas has now legalized on-farm sales of raw cow and goat milk:
Beginning in July 2013, Arkansas farms will be allowed to sell up to 500 gallons of unpasteurized cow milk per month, and up to 500 gallons of unpasteurized goat milk per month, directly to consumers. It will still be illegal to sell unpasteurized milk at farmers markets or other retail outlets. Under the new law, farmers will be required to post a sign on the farm and label unpasteurized products with a standardized label noting that the milk is unpasteurized. Neither the farm nor the cows will be inspected by the state, and the buyer assumes all liability should any health problems arise from consuming the raw milk.
This new law is not only exciting for the consumers who rely on raw milk’s nutrients for health benefits, but also for the farmers who see economic opportunity in taking advantage of the emerging raw milk market – raw milk often sells for $6-$8 per gallon. As the market continues to evolve and more farms begin to offer unpasteurized products, it will be interesting to see where costs stabilize and how farms brand themselves to stand out from the herd.
Read the full story.
(Photo ©2013 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)
Via the New York Times, the story of an Indiana dairy that is finding innovative, eco-friendly uses for its endless supply of cow manure:
FAIR OAKS, Ind. — Here at one of the largest dairy farms in the country, electricity generated using an endless supply of manure runs the equipment to milk around 30,000 cows three times a day.
For years, the farm has used livestock waste to create enough natural gas to power 10 barns, a cheese factory, a cafe, a gift shop and a maze of child-friendly exhibits about the world of dairy, including a 4D movie theater.
All that, and Fair Oaks Farms was still using only about half of the five million pounds of cow manure it vacuumed up from its barn floors on a daily basis. It burned off the excess methane, wasted energy sacrificed to the sky.
But not anymore.
The farm is now turning the extra manure into fuel for its delivery trucks, powering 42 tractor-trailers that make daily runs to raw milk processing plants in Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee. Officials from the federal Department of Energy called the endeavor a “pacesetter” for the dairy industry, and said it was the largest natural gas fleet using agricultural waste to drive this nation’s roads.
“As long as we keep milking cows, we never run out of gas,” said Gary Corbett, chief executive of Fair Oaks, which held a ribbon-cutting event for the project this month and opened two fueling stations to the public.
“We are one user, and we’re taking two million gallons of diesel off the highway each year,” he said. “That’s a big deal.”
read the full story.
There’s been much in the news about New York state dairies benefiting from the greek yogurt craze, but times are still tough for NY dairies. California’s dairy industry, in particular, poses a formidable threat, due to pricing advantages and more aggressive marketing strategies. Via the Albany Times-Union:
N.Y. dairies fear getting creamed by California
Golden State’s milk-pricing system offers big advantage
A few months ago, a new product appeared in the aisles of Price Chopper supermarkets. The store’s plainly-packaged private-label butter now also bore a seal heralding its primary ingredient, “Real California Milk.”
This new item – California-made butter in a Northeast supermarket chain – is only a more visible expression of a longstanding issue for New York dairy farmers: Even on home turf, California’s super-sized dairy industry presents some hearty competition.
“It’s so hard for us to compete,” said Jeff Wysocki, 50, a dairy farmer in Hoosick Falls.
California has long been the nation’s largest producer of milk.
A large part of California’s dairy edge stems from its milk pricing system, which is set by the state, rather than using the federal milk pricing system that most states utilize, including New York. Dairy farmers in California are often paid up to several dollars less per hundred pounds — about 12 gallons — of milk than farmers in New York. In December, preliminary average milk prices paid to farmers were $18.80 per hundred pounds of milk in California, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Farmers in New York received $22.20 per hundred pounds of milk in the same month.
Those milk prices often result in California-made dairy products that are sold at a lower cost than dairy produced in other states, giving California a competitive advantage nationally.
read the full story.
(Photo ©2013 TimesUnion.com)
Over at SFGate.com, Jennie P. Grant, author of the recently published “City Goats: The Goat Justice League’s Guide to Backyard Goat Keeping” (Skipstone, $17.95) and founder of the Goat Justice League (yes, you read that right), shares some tips and considerations for those thinking about getting a goat or two (she recommends two at least) of their own:
— Do your homework: If you are serious about keeping goats, study up. First, check to find out whether your municipality allows them.
— Two-goat minimum: Goats are herd animals. You must get at least two or they will become stressed and act out in ways only a goat could dream up.
— Keep your mower: Everyone will tell you that goats will mow your lawn. Wrong. Cows and sheep are grazers, eating vegetation below knee level. Goats are primarily browsers, eating things above knee level. This can include, if you’re not careful, your prize roses and rare maples.
— Basic needs: Your two goats will need a yard of at least 400 square feet surrounded by a solid fence, and a sturdy shed (sound roof, dry floor) at least 6 by 8 feet so they can get out of the rain.
Feed and supplies run about $75 per month. A pair of goats will eat a 50-pound bag of alfalfa pellets and half a bale of hay every month.
— Kidding around: Five months from the date of a female’s breeding, you will need to help her deliver kids (she probably won’t need much).
At 8 weeks, they will be ready to leave home. Females can find homes as dairy goats. Most males are neutered. Some get jobs with brush-clearing outfits, some find homes as pets, some, yes, end up as goat stew.
check out the full article.
Via Cheese Underground, a new report confirms what was always understood but perhaps not confirmed on a scientific level: Cheese from grass-fed cows is quantifiably different:
A final report soon to be published by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture concludes something every cheesemaker and cheese enthusiast has suspected for years: that there are “quantified differences in color, texture, melting points and other attributes” between pasture-fed and conventional dairy products, especially cheese and butter.
An upcoming report titled: “Growing the Pasture-Grazed Dairy Sector in Wisconsin,” is the conclusion of a four-year research project led by Laura Paine, grazing and organic specialist at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture. Paine pursued grant funding for the project after research by Dr. Scott Rankin at the University of Wisconsin in 2005 showed pasture-fed cheddar cheese was creamier in texture and more golden in color than the same cheese produced from the milk of confinement-fed cows.
While the research failed to identify a single compound or “smoking gun” to explain the differences the team found between pasture-fed and conventional milk, both the scientists and chefs noted “quantifiable differences” in color, texture and melting points. Dr. Rankin noted that pasture milk has a “grassy note.”
In a side-by-side comparison of the Wisconsin cheeses (see photo above), the grass-fed cheese, on the left, is slightly more golden. The aroma is more earthy and fruity, while the conventional cheese on the right, simply smells clean and milky. The flavors are also distinctly different. The pasture-fed cheese is more complex with a lingering finish. The conventional cheese is more of a one-note cheese with a clean finish.
“When you taste the two side by side, there is no doubt a remarkable difference,” says dairy farmer Bert Paris, who farms using rotational grazing, and whose milk was used to make the pasture-fed cheese in September. “It validates everything we’ve been saying for years.”
Read the full post over on Cheese Underground.
(Photo ©2013 Cheese Underground)
Ever tasted Camel milk, or cheese? Truth is, I haven’t either, but that may change soon, if camel farmers and camel dairy producers can bring it to market:
Although the camel has a well-established reputation as a beast of burden, it also plays a lesser known but vital role within pastoral societies: milk producer. Many ruminants discontinue lactating in harsh climatic environments. However, camels continue to produce highly diluted milk containing over 90% water. Extreme drought conditions are no sweat for the dromedary—they maintain a regular body temperature without the need to perspire and can also lose up to 30 percent of their weight from water loss.
Camels are also adaptable feeders; their ability to digest dry matter and fiber allows them to eat a broad range of plants including thorny bushes and cacti. These traits, along with the camel’s ability to continue to produce a reliable source of nutrition in challenging environments, has led to an increased emphasis on camel milk’s potential to improve food security in drought prone regions.
Camel milk presents certain challenges to cheesemakers, however:
Flax: loaded with omega-3’s, it’s a popular dietary addition for health-conscious humans, and now a study from Oregon State University finds that feeding flaxseed to cows improves the nutritional profile of their milk:
Their milk contained more omega-3 fatty acids and less saturated fat, the study found. Diets high in saturated fat can increase cholesterol and cause heart disease, while those rich in omega-3 and other polyunsaturated fatty acids may reduce the risk of heart disease, studies have shown.
The study found that feeding cows up to six pounds of extruded flaxseed improved the fat profile without negatively affecting the production and texture of the milk and other dairy products. Extrusion presses raw ground flaxseed into pellets with heat.
At six pounds per day, saturated fatty acids in whole milk fat dropped 18 percent, poly-unsaturated fatty acids increased 82 percent, and omega-3 levels rose 70 percent compared to feeding no flaxseed. Similar improvements were observed in butter and cheese.
Although flaxseed costs more than traditional cattle feeds, Bobe hopes that it still could be an affordable feed supplement for cows because products enriched with omega-3 can sell for a premium at the grocery store.
“Many consumers already show a willingness to pay extra for value-added foods, like omega-3 enriched milk,” he said.
One thing is for sure, he said: Dairy farmers will have no trouble convincing cows to eat flaxseed.
“They loved it. They ate it like candy,” he said.
(Photo ©2013 Wikipedia.org/Sanjay Acharya)
The Telegraph reports on “The Moo Man”, a new documentary making its debut at the Sundance Film Festival, which looks at the life and experiences of a British farm family turning their back on Big Dairy and converting their farm to raw milk production:
A farmer who led his cows on a long walk to freedom is the subject of an award-nominated film
Hollywood’s latest starlet is gazing enigmatically into the camera lens with her huge melting brown eyes, framed with lashes long enough to catch snowflakes. She radiates an air of serenity amid the flashbulbs and satellite dishes and is the very epitome of poise – until an enormous rough pink tongue emerges from the side of her mouth and flicks into her nostril.
“This is Ration, she’s our Red Carpet Cow,” says her owner, East Sussex dairy farmer Steve Hook, as he massages her neck. “A handful of cow nuts and you can do anything you like with her.”
That pretty much makes her every director’s dream, but she won’t be accompanying him to Sundance Film Festival this weekend, where her screen debut – The Moo Man – has been chosen to compete in the prestigious World Cinema category.
The Moo Man is ostensibly a documentary about Longleys Farm, Hailsham, where Steve and his father, Phil, have turned around their loss-making dairy business by thumbing their noses at the supermarket big boys and marketing and selling their own raw, unpasteurised and organic milk.
But this fascinating, unsentimental yet tender film is much more than a classic David-and-Goliath clash of values; it is a moving portrait of the ancient relationship between a farmer and his animals, set against a backdrop of changing seasons, changing fortunes, birth, death and, of course, milk. Gallons and gallons of the white stuff.
In a few days, Steve Hook and his father will be at Sundance, where their quietly profound story will vie for attention among performances by Hollywood A-listers such as Ashton Kutcher and Scarlett Johansson.
The farmers have been invited to brunch with festival founder Robert Redford. It’s a fair bet they will raise a toast to The Moo Man. Let’s hope it is with a glass of raw, unpasteurised milk.
(Photo ©2013 Sundance.org)
Experienced cheesemakers will often say that, if the milk is great, the cheesemakers main job is to just not screw it up. This is sometimes spoken with a wink, but there’s a core truth to it: if you don’t have excellent milk, you’ll never produce a great cheese, because nothing you can do will transform a sub-par milk into an award-winning wheel. Tonight at the Cheese School of San Francisco, learn all about the fundamentals of this white gold:
Jan. 21, 6:30 – 8:30pm
Instructor: Zoe Brickley
Milk is so ubiquitous we tend to take it for granted. But a cheesemaker doesn’t. There is a lot happening under the surface. Zoe Brickley of the Cellars at Jasper Hill will discuss the chemistry and microbiology of milk. You’ll learn about the difference breed, feed, seasonality and herd management make, and how those variables affect the behavior of milk in the vat, and ultimately flavor development in the caves. The Cellars have gathered some eye-opening data in this area over the past year — data that has has changed their approach in the barn.
This happens tonight, so sign up quick!
Via newslite.tv, Swedish company DeLaval has created a self-grooming machine — essentially a car wash for cows, although I suspect the happy-making aspect has more to do with the scratching action than the cleaning — that keeps the cows happy and clean, while also boosting milk production:
July 22, 2010 6:30 PM
It looks like a car wash, but this ‘cow wash’ machine is actually the latest must-have gadget for farmers wanting to boost milk production
Designed by Swedish firm DeLaval, the swinging cow brush was created to act as a ‘self grooming’ device for cows to help keep themselves clean, healthier and happier.
This is because a happy cow is said to produce as much as 3.5 percent more milk and therefore be much more valuable for the farmer.
The device works by starting to rotate when a cow makes contact with it, and then spinning at a speed which is pleasurable for the cow as it moo-ves under it.
Given the success of cow wash machines - more than 30,000 have been sold - it can’t be long until the cows also start getting a pre-milking pedicure and makeover.
A spokesperson for DeLaval said: “A cow that grooms herself with the swinging cow brush can produce more milk from the exact same resources and input.
“That is one of the reasons why it is so popular among dairy farmers.
“Improved general health leads to less treatment and culling costs so cow health is improved and farmers’ profits boosted.”