Following is a fairly comprehensive list of questions to pose to a raw milk dairy. I recommend you read these documents from the Raw Milk Institute and the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund to see the kind of answers we would be hoping for. Also, I recommend The Raw Milk Answer Book, which I have reviewed for our blog. I photographed the raw milk above at The Abbey Farm.
What breed or breeds of cows do you milk? Do you know the A1/A2 status of your cows?
Do you have a closed herd?
What do your cows eat? What about at milking time?
How often are the cows on pasture? How often is the herd moved from pasture to pasture – rotational grazing?
In the winter, what comprises the largest portion of the cow’s diet — hay? sileage? grain? something else?
If the cow receives any feed, is the feed organic? If not, does it contain GMOs, soy, or any animal-derived protein? What ingredients are in the feed?
When do you use antibiotics? Do you use rBGH (bovine growth hormone)? What vaccinations do you give?
How do you control flies on your cows? How do you control weeds in your grazing fields? What type of wormer do you use?
Do you and your family drink the milk from your farm?
How often do you test your cows for disease? Do you ever test the milk for pathogens? If so, how often and what for? When a test comes back positive or with a high bacteria count, how do you respond?
When the cow is ill, what is your protocol? Does she receive antibiotics at any point? And when the antibiotics are finished, is she incorporated back into the herd?
How big is your milk herd and how many acres of pasture do they graze on?
How many acres does your farm have?
How many acres are dedicated to the lactating cows?
How many acres are devoted to the rest of your herd?
What do you grow on the rest of your acreage?
What is the material of the floor in the milking area?
Are there other animals on your farm? Do they have access to the milking area?
Do you have a hand-wash sink separate from the wash vats of the milking system?
How do you cool your milk after milking?
Do you keep the milk cool during transport?
9 Responses to Questions for Raw Milk Dairies
Are your herds A2 or A1 casein. Do you have plans to breed for A2 predominantly into your herd?
Yes! That question is largely answered when we ask about the breed.
The breed does not mean a2a2, many of my milking shorthorns are not, just as with the jerseys I have. Must be DNA tested to be sure.
Very nice post, Sandrine. How are things in Portland? Have you sponsored viewings of VAXXED?
Between the GMO issue and the Vaccination ordeal, it is getting very interesting if one is determined to source “clean” food.
My doctoral research is moving along nicely, having just finished collecting my mothers narratives.
Gena Mavuli and I are making great progress with IHPF. We are so honored to be sponsoring Caitlin Shetterly http://www.caitlinshetterly.com/ coming to Endicott College to speak to our students on the topic of her book, GMOs, Threat to our Food, our Land and our Future . You might wish to promote her work, as her book is extraordinary and captivating, an exceptional account of her journey investigating the topic of pesticides and transgenics as a journalist. She is a true storyteller.
IHPF would also like to be sponsored at some point on your site. We do have a student liaison, who is a joy, and learning so much about the restorative food and farming movement from our programing. You could interview her as to how she feels impacted by IHPF and our programing. We are in the midst of our first major fundraising effort. Might we have a Skype conversation with you sometime soon to discuss the matter? Thursdays and Fridays are best.
Many Blessings, Johanna
Johanna M. Keefe, MS, MA, AHN-BC, RN
Institute for Human and Planetary Flourishing, Co-Founder http://www.marioninstitute.org/greenhouse-initiatives/ihpf/
PhD (C) California Institute of Integral Studies, Transformative Studies
Professor of Integrative and Holistic Studies
Endicott College School of Nursing Beverly, MA 01915
Instead of asking, go and look at the cows. Are they clean, on green, lush pasture? Or in a drylot full of dirt and poop? Don’t trust the farm website, we happen to know one very popular raw milk dairy in CA with very deceptive photos on their site (not Organic Pastures, btw). Besides that, the very first question should be, “what kind of testing do you do on your cows for diseases that can be transferred to humans?” And “what kind of milk testing do you do and how often?” Those two things will answer a lot of the other questions listed, and if your source can’t meet one or the other criteria adequately, don’t drink it.
It isn’t always possible for folks to visit a farm, however I agree with your recommendation when it is. I think the questions posed can be asked when visiting a farm.
Without knowing what the proper answer should be, asking these questions is pointless. Those of us who are new to this, so to speak, would gain nothing from asking these questions.
Where do you assume we are to find the answers to these questions? If we were educated enough to know the answers we wouldn’t need you to give us the questions, don’t you think?
Look at the links included in this post for guidelines on what is ideal!
I asked my dairy source if he feeds grain to his dairy cows, and his answer was that in Texas there is just no way to get them to produce without supplementing with grain a certain percentage. And that his grain contains soy, which stinks. I asked if he could at least find some nonGMO grain and he said economically it’s not feasible. I’m pretty bummed. He says his meat cows are 100 percent grass fed though. So there’s that!