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Posts Tagged ‘animal welfare’

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Dairy Goddess Farmstead Cheese & Milk

 

Hello “Godd-etts”! Spring has sprung that is for sure. Many of our seasonal farmers markets begin shortly. We are always excited to start Hanford Farmers Market on Thursdays Old Town Clovis Farmers Market  and Cayucos Farmers Market on Fridays.

I thought I would share with you many of the Frequently Asked Questions at my markets and by my many store customers. I am always happy to answer any questions anyone has. If there is not one answered here…please just let me know.

Hope to see you soon!

Barbara

FAQ for Dairy Goddess Farmstead Cheese & Milk

 

Are you organic?

 

We practice primarily organic though not certified

 

 

Are the cows grass-fed?

 

We have a nutritionist that works weekly with my husband to formulate the best diet for our cows. They use the corn and wheat and alfalfa we grow on our farm. They also get fresh citrus, almond, and other nutrients that are mixed fresh twice daily. 

 

 

Are your cows happy?

 

Of course! Our whole goal is to create our animals comfort and well-being. Not only morally…but a happy cow makes more milk.

 

Are your cows confined?

 

We raise our cows in open corrals with shades available to them. On hot days they have soakers and misters to cool them and on hot days they have warm water for their wash up.

 

Do you remove the calves from their mothers?

 

They spend a few hours or longer with their calves (calves are up and walking almost immediately) and then the calves are placed in their private pen so that they will not be exposed to dangers. We also can better monitor them to make sure they are eating and drinking. They are monitored for about 45 to 60 days when they are moved to age appropriate group pens.

 

Do you raise your bull calves?

 

Yes we do

 

Do your cows have hormones?

 

All mammals have natural hormones but we do not supplement them with Rbst

 

Is there antibiotics in your milk?

 

Our milk as in all milk is tested numerous times as in compliance with the government and our cooperatives. Cheese will not make if there are antibiotics SO of course we do not!

 

Do you treat your cows with antibiotics?

 

Yes. Only if necessary. As we did with ourselves and our children. They are often similar medications. We have a “hospital” pen where they are monitored and the milk for the ill cows is discarded.

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Non-Homogenized Lightly Pasteurized "Cream Top" Milk Nectar From Our Dairy

Non-Homogenized Lightly Pasteurized “Cream Top” Milk
Nectar From Our Dairy

I drink whole milk and eat full-fat yogurt, cream cheese, and sour cream. Sure, full-fat dairy products taste better than the skim/fat-free versions, but I don’t eat them for the taste. I eat full-fat dairy because it’s better for my health and my weight.

Yep, you heard me right: I eat dairy products with all the fat god gave ‘em, and I do it because it’s good for me.

Here’s why:

1. Our bodies cannot digest the protein or absorb the calcium from milk without the fat.

2. Vitamins A and D are also fat-soluble. So you can’t absorb them from milk when all the fat has been skimmed off. (This makes fortified skim milk the biggest sham of all — you can pump fat-free milk full of a year’s supply of vitamins A and D, but the body can’t access them).

3. Milk fat contains glycosphingolipids, types of fats linked to immune system health and cell metabolism.

4. Contrary to popular belief, low-fat and fat-free diets do not help prevent heart disease, and science has now revealed that the link between saturated fat (long villainized as a cause of heart disease) and heart disease is tenuous at best.

5. In fact, studies now show that eating saturated fat raises good cholesterol — the kind of cholesterol you want and need in your body.

6. The world’s healthiest foods are whole foods — foods that have not been processed. Why? The nutrients in whole foods have a natural synergy with one another — that is, they work best in and are most beneficial to the body when they are taken together (not when they are isolated in, say, beta-carotene supplements of Vitamin C capsules). So when you pull some or all of the fat out of milk, you throw its nutritional profile out of whack. Basically, you discard all of the health benefits when you discard the fat.

7. And last but definitely not least: healthy dietary fat will NOT make you fat. We’ve been taught for years that dietary fat is the root of all evil. But we need healthy fat in our diet for proper body composition and long-term weight maintenance. The key factor here is knowing the difference between good fats and bad fats (for more on good and bad fats and the role healthy fat plays in weight maintenance..

A final note: When it comes to whole milk, you should also drink nonhomogenized when you can. Homogenization is “the technique of crushing milkfat globules into droplets too small to rise to the surface in a cream layer,” writes Anne Mendelson in Milk: The Surprising Story of Milk Through the Ages (Knopf, 2008). Homogenization offered two big advantages to the dairy industry: (1) the abolition of the “creamline,” as it’s called, made it possible to package milk in more convenient [read: disposable] cardboard packaging instead of traditional glass bottles and (2) homogenizing made it possible for a commercial dairy to “calculate the amount of fat in incoming milk, completely remove it, and homogenize it back into milk in any desired proportion…In effect, ‘whole milk’ could now be whatever the industry said it was.”

To put it more bluntly: homogenized whole milk isn’t whole. The dairy-processing industry decided that whole milk should be milk with 3.25% fat (raw milk straight from the cow averages between 4 – 5.5% fat). That way, no matter what cow produced the milk, after homogenization all the milk would taste the same.

When you buy homogenized milk, you’re buying a whole food that isn’t whole — it’s had it’s fat removed, evened out, and injected back into it in an amount less than what appears in nature. So choose whole milk, skip homogenization, and enjoy!
By Laine Bergeson, Experience Life

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Cows Cooling Off

Cows Cooling Off

Summertime! It is here with a fury. As a child it was my favorite time of year. When you are young you don’t have as many worries as we do as adults. I used to have fun playing on the dairy, barefoot, making “Big Foot” prints in the fresh cow patties and then running through the “wash pen” to wash off and cool off. I was out there with the cows running around in my swim suit with out a care in the world. My dad made sure the cows were always comfortable. He would keep them longer in the “wash pen” and they were blessed with shades.

We continue to have those comforts for our cows along with soakers, misters and fans! Nonetheless, now as an adult and caretaker of these favored female bovines I worry. We are continually checking to make sure these cooling devices are working and doing their job. We make sure they are eating enough and the food is fresh. We watch their troughs to make sure the water is cool and plentiful.

In the summer we also plant corn. We grow corn to feed our cows along with wheat and alfalfa. I worry about the Central Valley and it’s water availability. There is so much “politics” in the water issue. They only ones who truly suffer is us the farmers, our animals and crops and you the consumer. Water is so important to this Valley and our food supply. Let us never take this for granted. Don’t let big politics lead you to believe it is about saving non-indigenous species. It is about big business, big money that hides behind “heart-strings” for their personal profits and agendas.

I worry about my cows and the crops I grow for them. I pray for water to keep my cows cool and thirst away. I pay that we have enough water to grow our crops and have a plentiful harvest.

Care free summer days for me are gone…but I do thank God for all of the blessings and comforts that my “girls” have. I am grateful for everything that they provide for our family and giving them the very best is the least we can do!

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Manuel Borges Jr Dairy Farmer - Father

Manuel Borges Jr
Dairy Farmer – Father

Well here we are in June already. Always a busy month. Between graduations, farming our corn and fathers day. On top of that it is “Dairy Month”.  For a dairy farmer every day is dairy day, week, month and year. The cows need their food and milking everyday, 24 /7 the cows are on our minds and run our daily lives, but we love it and most of us agree it is our calling.

This is the 24th Father’s day without my Dad. I still miss him terribly, yet his legacy and passion lives within me. My Dad was not a man of many words. He liked his routine and was just happy to be in the barn with his beloved cows. We were pretty much polar opposites when it came to socializing and chit-chat. I think he thought me a bit quirky, a bit boisterous, and always on the go. I was just like my mother. It was a yin/yang thing. All I know is it worked. I truly think that my life growing up was as perfect as it gets. I had the best of both worlds. A free and easy, hippy style mom and a quiet hard working Dad that like routine and structure.

We have all of these fancy terms for everything these days. I think that my Dad might have been termed, OCD. He was the cleanest person I have ever met. He spent so much of his time that he should have been sleeping, cleaning. He only slept about 4 hours a night.

My first memories of my Dad was by his side…working and cleaning. You see I was the oldest, I know in his heart I was supposed to be a boy, thus his nickname for me was Bobbi. (He had married later and I was born when he was 35 years old). He needed a worker and well, I ended up doing just that. At four years of age he put steel wool in my hand and taught me to help him scrub the line. My very favorite memories was about that same time when he put me in the big stainless steel milk tank to help him clean it. He said that my hands were nice and small to get into the “crannies”. It was such fun slipping and sliding around. I remember we used a lot of cleaning chemicals. I told him, “Daddy I can’t breath”, he calmly said to me “it’s OK honey, just hold your breath”. I did just that. While others might not think that was the best parenting moment, it was one of my happiest times.

My Dad was even picky about the color of his cows. He liked them mostly black with only a little white on the bottom. When asked why, he would simply reply, “They look cleaner like that”. He was known by many of this preference and any bull in his breeding program reflected this and any cow that was purchased had to fit that bill. (I am blessed to have a aerial photo of our dairy farm and his   “Vacas Pretas”  as he would call them in Portuguese are prevalent and a beautiful keepsake of our life).

That desire for quality and cleanliness was passed down to me. A good product starts with the best quality milk. Once you have the milk, so pure and pristine,  processing it must also retain cleanliness and quality.  The importance of this has been passed onto me and I pass that on through my cheese and milk. So many people tell me that my cheese and milk lasts long after the “best by date”. I tell them that is because of our clean milk and processing. It makes me so very proud. I am so lucky that my husband also is a stickler for quality. It is, to my delight that my daughter, Tara, has also inherited that gene. I am so happy to have her heading up all of our production.

I am sorry that my Dad did not get to see “Dairy Goddess” come to life. I know he would have just shook his head and smiled that crooked grin. My father told me out loud only one time that he was proud of me. That was on my wedding day. I always knew that he was, but like I said he was a man of few words. He did often tell me he loved me, especially towards the end of his life.

There has been many times since his passing that I have heard him. When I had been lost in my thoughts or worried about this thing or that, his voice will pop into my head and say “I love you, Bobbi”… and then it’s gone, but that moment stays with me and I know that he is right here watching the whole thing. Our loved ones never really leave us. We carry them in our hearts and in our actions. We hope that all of the best parts that they gave us are then passed down to our children.

Happy Fathers Day Dad….and to all you Fathers! Don’t forget June is Dairy Month…go on out and celebrate. Think about all of the hard working dairy farmers out there bringing you the best of what Dairy has to offer.

Cheers…preferably a big cold glass of milk!

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Hello everyone! I thought that I would post a Myth vs Fact about milk and dairy farms. Primarily myths regarding Progressive dairy farms (aka Conventional)

Especially as there is a shortage of “Organic” milk availability.  I have stated before and will again that I support my fellow organic dairy farmers. They do a terrific job with the method of farming that they chose. I just want it to be understood among all of the media mumbo jumbo regarding progressive farming.

As a progressive farmer I choose this method of farming primarily because as an organic dairy I am unable to use antibiotics to treat my seriously ill animals. These antibiotics are the same medicines that I took when I had a breast infection while I was best feeding. Or the same medicine I gave my children when they had infections that became serious. Morally, I have an issue with not being able to treat my cows as I would myself or my children and risk the loss of an animal when there are methods in which to save them.

“MILK IS MILK”

Myth: All milk contains antibiotics, except organic.

Fact: All milk is carefully tested for antibiotics. Any milk that tests positive is disposed of immediately, and does not enter into the food supply.

  • Sometimes it’s necessary for farmers to treat cows with antibiotics when they are ill, just as humans sometimes need medication when they are sick.
  • All milk is strictly tested for antibiotics on the farm and processing plant. Any milk that tests positive is disposed of immediately and does not get into the food supply.
  • The U.S. dairy industry conducts more than 3.3 million tests each year on all milk entering dairy plants to ensure that antibiotics are kept out of the milk supply. According to the most recent U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) data, less than one tanker in 3,000 tests positive for any animal drug residues, including antibiotics. In those rare cases, any milk that tests positive is disposed of immediately and does not get into the food supply.
  • The milk testing system provides dairy farmers strong incentives to keep their milk free of antibiotics. Any milk that tests positive for antibiotics is immediately dumped. In such cases, the farmer responsible for the milk is required to pay for the full tanker of milk.
  • Milk and dairy products are among the most stringently regulated foods in this country.

Myth: Today’s dairy cow is treated like nothing more than a milk machine.

Fact: Dairy cows must be healthy and well cared for in order to produce pure, wholesome milk.

  • Farmers employ professional nutritionists to develop a scientifically formulated, balanced and nutritious diet for their cows. Diets include hay, grains, protein sources, and vitamins and minerals.
  • Dairy cows receive regular veterinary care, including periodic check-ups, preventative vaccinations and prompt treatment of illness.
  • The dairy industry has in place a number of initiatives that demonstrate commitment to animal well-being. The National Dairy FARM Program™ is a nationwide, verifiable program that addresses animal well-being. Third-party verification ensures the validity and the integrity of the program to our customers and consumers.
  • Dairy farmers depend on healthy cows for their livelihood.

Myth: The reason the price of milk is going up in the grocery store is so dairy farmers can get rich.

  • Dairy farmers only receive about 30 cents of every dollar.
  • Market forces, like demand, impact the price of milk at the grocery store,
  • Farmers are seeing a lot of cost increases in producing milk, including feed and transportation. These cost increases have left slim margins for dairy farmers in recent years.

Fact: Price increases for dairy, and all foods, beverages and other goods, are tied to dramatic increases in energy/fuel, distribution, transportation, feed, and supply costs.

Myth: Modern dairy farmers don’t practice sustainable agriculture.

Fact: Dairy farmers depend on land, air and water as part of their livelihood.

  • Dairy farms must meet standards for manure storage, handling and recycling per guidelines from state and federal agencies. Once dried, manure is reused as comfortable animal bedding, composted for local garden centers and nurseries, or spread on fields to grow healthy crops, thereby reducing the need for commercial fertilizers.
  • Dairy farms must follow strict state and local water quality regulations. Dairy farmers use water responsibly in their milking parlors, in water storage and in recycling.
  • Constant innovation on dairy farms has led to widespread adoption of best management practices, and U.S. dairy farms are more efficient today than ever before. According to Cornell University, the dairy industry has reduced the carbon footprint of its products by 63 percent over the past 60 years, thanks to improvements in animal genetics, feeding rations, animal health programs, cow comfort and overall farm management practices. In fact, more milk is produced today with only 9 million cows than with 26 million cows in 1944.
  • Dairy is one of the most regulated and inspected industries in agriculture. Dairy farms must abide by federal, state and local clean water laws that regulate manure application on cropland, and government agencies regularly inspect the water on dairy farms. Further, state agencies have rigorous processes for granting permits to new and expanding dairy farms.
  • Dairy farmers live and work on their farms, so they understand the importance of protecting our natural resources, so that it will be there for future generations.
Please visit http://www.dairyfarmingtoday.org/Learn-More/MythsvsFacts/Pages/MythvsFact.aspx for even more in depth fact sheets

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Me and My Chica

What a difference a day can make. Last night I received the very sad news that my Chica had an accident and the tough decision of euthanasia had to be made.

She was still at Cal Poly. I visited her every week  we were trying to get her re-bred as she has always had difficulty in getting pregnant.

It is believed that she was in heat and a bull  mounted her and this caused her to break her leg.

She was down and not getting up. I was given the call and immediately wanted her suffering to end. Comfort is all we desire for our animals. So to think of prolonged suffering would be nothing but selfish.

I want to thank all of those at Cal Poly that took good care of Chica especially Rich Silacci, the herd manager. She had many friends and I will miss those stories of Chica that were told to me be the students.

She will be missed. I have many pictures and memories of her.

She was a big inspiration for my blog. This picture was from when I started blogging. It is my favorite one of her and I.

RIP my sweet Chica!

March 4, 2008 to December 13, 2011

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Tis’ the season and most of us are feeling the pressure of getting everything done. Since I have started my cheese business this adds the additional pressure of marketing and participating in the retail part of the holidays. I am grateful to mark my second Christmas season as a cheesemaker.

I do miss that I haven’t been able to blog every week like I used too. It is always a great outlet for me. I have always strived to share with those that are removed from the farms and the farmers. Chica (who is doing well and still very sassy) is a great partner to help show consumers a little bit of what we do on the farm and show our connection with our animals and our land.

 I do find great connection with consumers when I work the farmers markets or do demo’s at the stores. It is a great opportunity to explain what we do and clarify any questions or misconceptions that someone might have. Most people are good, kind and grateful to speak to an actual farmer.

In doing a demo recently I had a women come up and asked what it was like on our farm. She stated that it sounded like I treated my animals well, “but most do not…it is awful”. I had asked her if she had been to a farm. “No but I read about it”, she stated. I answered, “well in this day and age you really don’t think you can believe everything you read”? She said “of course not…but the animal rights people wouldn’t lie”. (BREATHING….CALMING myself)

I explained that there might be another agenda behind the group. If you want to fully know what is happening on farms that she should visit a farm and see for herself. She should look at both sides before she judges. She seemed open to that and I gave her some references for her to obtain this information. One of my favorites is the attached in the link below.

The Food Dialogues. The US Farmers and Ranchers Alliance have put this together to start the conversation. It’s a great opportunity for consumers to start a conversation with the farmers that bring the food to their tables. They have done a great job and I am proud of my friend Dino Giacomazzi who is a great spokesman for us dairy farmers.

 

“99% of farmers and ranchers say protecting the environment is an important goal and practice.”

http://www.fooddialogues.com/?gclid=CKCz9qbJ_6wCFacZQgod7D7SRw

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One thing nice with travelling every week to the Central Coast is I am able to visit with Chica at Cal Poly SLO.(As most of you know Chica has had some issues with getting pregnant)

Me and My Chica

We were very lucky that she had her bull and Nino is doing well.

So now we are trying again… Hopefully it will not take as long as last time. I would love for her to have a female this time.

Enjoy the short video!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZaOfMlzluys

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As a modern farmer, we are called conventional.

This is what the dictionary says about conventional.

con·ven·tion·al (kn-vnsh-nl)

adj.

1. Based on or in accordance with general agreement, use, or practice; customary: conventional symbols; a conventional form of address.
2. Conforming to established practice or accepted standards; traditional: a conventional church wedding.
3.

a. Devoted to or bound by conventions to the point of artificiality; ceremonious.
b. Unimaginative; conformist
 
Look at that description….we are anything BUT conventional. We are always looking for ways to improve. Become more efficient more sustainable. We look for new ways to comfort our animals. We are open to new things and all of benefits that technology can bring. We do not always agree on all advancements but we are open-minded and look at all sides and benefits…….. We are “PROGRESSIVE”!
 

pro-gres-sive

 /prəˈgrɛsɪv/

–adjective

1.

favoring or advocating progress, change, improvement, or reform, as opposed to wishing to maintain things as they are.
2.

making progress toward better conditions; employing or advocating more enlightened or liberal ideas, new or experimental methods, etc.: a progressive community.
3.

characterized by such progress, or by continuous improvement.
 
I had this conversation a long time ago with my friend and fellow blogger Dino Giacomazzi. It has stayed with me. I feel that if we must change the labels that are put upon us.
 
I bring this up as I had a customer at farmers market who asked me, “Do you take care of your land”? My first reaction was hurt. Real hurt. I took a moment and a breath. I realized that she has heard some things that would lead her to believe that dairy farmers do not take care of our land or are not sustainable. I looked at her and calmly said…”It is the place where I live. I drink its water. Eat from its bounty. I am the third generation to do so and hope to have it for the fourth to do the same. I hope to see my grandchildren drink  and eat from it”. Why would I not take care of my life, my future”?
 
She looked at me and said “I never thought of it that way…of course”.
 
That was enough for me to know that, even though in the smallest of scales, I must continue to reach out and help to teach those that do not understand. We need to educate and be proactive and explain to those that do not know that we are “progressive” and we are here to feed them, and the world.
 
I urge all of the agriculture communities to get out there and share your stories…it can make a huge difference!
 
 

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Well here we are the end of May…
Where has the time gone? It feels like we just had Christmas!

Keeping busy makes the time pass so quickly. I have to admit
that my blogging has suffered for it. I apologize to you for that. I do appreciate
those that follow my blog. I enjoy sharing my dairy and cheese making life with you. I love to share information and answer questions about what we do and why we do it.

I have to work on not letting those joys and important things in life. Like family, friends, fitness and of course my blog fall too much to the wayside due to getting so caught up with “business”. I promise…I am working on that.

At farmers markets I get asked many questions. I would have to say that the number one question that I get asked is “Are your cows Grass-Fed”? So am always so happy to share with them how lucky our cows are.

We have a nutritionist, Bob B. (I am writing this last-minute and didn’t ask permission to use his name). Bob is a great guy. He loves cows. He is educated in nutrition. He works along side of my husband and son and they develop the rations that we feed our cows. Depending on our commodities and season. They formulate those based on the cows needs and outputs.

Sounds pretty scientific huh? Well it is. Just another great advantage of the technologies available to create the best diet for the health of the cows and her offspring. This allows us to be sustainable and make the best use of our resources.

Bob along with Tony make the perfect combinations of high quality alfalfa hay. We use the corn and wheat that we grow here on our farm. We mix that with almond hulls, cotton seed, and fresh citrus. Yes, FRESH citrus! (There is nothing cuter than seeing them enjoy a big chunk of orange).

We then mix all of those ingredients together twice a day and feed it fresh just as they get done milking.

Those are some pampered animals. I was joking with a customer the other day and told them that if I had to come back as an animal it would be one of our dairy cows.

Our whole daily function is the care are comfort of our cows.

So, all joking aside…I wouldn’t mind at all if I came back as a dairy cow.

(This is a video from Nov 2009. It shows how feed our cows. I thought I would share it again to give you a visual. (I hadn’t seen it in awhile and Tony makes me laugh…he doesn’t like to on video)  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eoqt1TiKi58

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