About Our Dairy Department and Practices
At Organic Pastures Dairy, we believe the safety of our products is the highest priority. We have identified that the key elements to any food safety plan include:
- SSOP – Standard Sanitary Operating Procedure
- GMP – Good Manufacturing Practices
- Testing and Verification:
- We cannot say for 100% certain that there will never be a pathogen in our milk, but we do our very best every day to minimize that risk.
- We test multiple times more than is required to ensure we are properly tracking our products for low bacteria and somatic cell counts, coliforms and the big four pathogens: e.coli 0157:H7, listeria, salmonella and camphilobacter.
- We use on-farm testing for antibiotics (always negative of course) to comply with all IMS standards.
- We use independent, state-approved labs for all our bacteria and pathogen testing so we know we have un-biased, confirmed results that we can stand behind (more on testing in “Creamery”).
Prevention Starts At the Dairy
Since we don’t have a “kill step”, like pasteurization, we focus on the prevention of bad bacteria, which includes: practices like keeping cows on clean pasture, making sure there is no muddy areas of pasture, no use of antibiotics or silage, etc.
We milk our herd twice a day, which is perfect for the cow’s natural milking demand. We use industry standard milk machines to milk the cow into our stainless milk line. On average, our cows give about 5 gallons of milk per day. To achieve this 5-gallon average, we give the cows plenty of fresh water, daily pasture grazing, a relaxing environment, organic mineral supplements, highest-quality certified organic feed, and treat the cows with our natural and organic homemade cow treatments.
Did you know that cows usually have 4 teats? We use a milk machine called a “claw” that has four individual milk suction cups that attach to the teats and pulsate the milk from the utter into the milk line. The cow’s body temperature milk passes through the milk hose, into the milk line, through the receiver, through a filter, and finally into the plate chiller. The plate chiller instantly starts the “cold chain” and the milk is never heated from this point until you buy it in the store. While these steps are in action, we have a full-time Quality Assurance employee that leads the milk barn cleaning and hand cleans (COP) every fitting, gasket, and every part of the milk line. These steps are all critical to keeping our raw milk tasting fresh, longer, and also maintaining the highest safety and quality.
Munch, Munch- About Feeding Time At the Dairy
Our cows eat and graze on certified organic green pasture, daily. In addition, the milking cows also get needed supplement feeding twice a day in our feeding lanes, using a mixer wagon. This supplement feed is chopped into consistent, bite-size portions for the cows to easily digest. The cows will naturally eat any additional feed that their bodies are demanding to maintain healthy body conditions. If the cow is not given enough natural feed, her body condition will become less optimal, her coat will become dull and "shaggy", and she will become prone to illness and possibility to infection. Everything we feed our cows is always certified organic, whether we grow it on our own farm or buy it from other local farmers. To assure our cows are given enough supplements to maintain healthy body condition, the cows also get about 0.50 pounds of a special mineral that is added into the TMR to give the cows trace minerals that are vital to their health, like Selenium. All of these continued efforts are made with the guidance from our organic and homeopathic trained Herd Health Management team and a PhD Nutritionist who specializes in organic dairy nutrition.
Our intensive, rotational grazing (mob-grazing) program is our key to keeping cows happy, milk tasting great, cows clean, have lower feed costs, and maintain compliance with the organic “pasture rule” standards.
Natural and Homeopathic Dairy Husbandry Practices
Cows get a pedicure at least once a year to ensure their hooves don’t get overgrown or have any foot problems. Yes, we believe in pampering-time for our cows, too!
All of our happy cows can be seen wagging their tails while they eat. Cow’s tails can get really long and can get in the way of the milking process. To prevent the tail from getting in the way of the milking and possibly putting dirt or mud on the clean milk machines, we trim all our cows’ tails to be just long enough for her to swat flies off her back, but short enough to stay out of the way of the milk machine.
We use only organic and homeopathic remedies for treating our sick cows. For example, if a cow has an infection, we treat her with garlic tincture and several immune-boosting homeopathic treatments. Garlic has been used very effectively for centuries as a natural antibiotic. Nothing works better than prevention, which is why we take every precaution to keep our cows healthy, safe and clean.
About Our Cow Breeds
We believe that the best herd is diverse so we have many different types of cow breeds. Diversity is best for our natural breeding and also creates a beautiful and delicious raw milk flavor. In our herd, you will find 8 different types of cow breeds (Holstein, Jersey, Holstein Jersey Cross, Guernsey, Montbeliard, Ayrshire, Normande, and Brown Swiss).
We are always looking for the healthiest, most diverse herd to produce our high quality, creamy raw milk. We search for a balance between high milk producing cows, like Holsteins, and high fat producing cows, like Jerseys. The mixed herd offers many breeding benefits, as well as a wonderful balance in fat content in the milk they produce. We use only A2 genetics to breed our herd.