Ask the Cows

Good for the Cows

That is one of the first questions we usually get, and it’s a great one! Modern farming practices utilize predominantly silage and grain as feed (1). We set out to make the best milk we could, and we discovered that utilizing traditional grass feeding practices not only makes us different, but is also good for you, good for the cows and good for the environment!
A healthy cow means a happy cow, and we want our cows to be as happy as possible. With that in mind, and with the guidance of veterinarians and animal nutritionists, we have established a diet for our cows to ensure that they are healthy! A percentage of added minerals and starches are used in the diet to ensure they have enough energy and nutrition to produce milk while maintaining healthy immune and digestive systems (2). As long as weather permits, the cows graze on fresh pasture outside, and grass comprises 90-95% of their diets. Grasses are cut during the summer and fall to feed the cows during the winter months when they are typically fed 85% grass. As all efforts are made to ensure that the cows are fed as much grass as possible without sacrificing their health, cows are never fed less than 80% grass. They are getting grass as their primary source of food all year long- not easy to do in Canada!
A cow’s stomach is pH neutral, a perfect environment for digesting grass (3). By utilizing grass feeding protocols, we are creating a great digestive environment for our cows to thrive, resulting in great tasting milk.
Yes, all Rolling Meadow Dairy products test negative for the presence of antibiotics. In accordance with the Dairy Farmers of Ontario policy, and the B.C. Dairy Association policies, we treat sick cows with antibiotics to ensure a healthy recovery. Cows are not milked during treatment. Antibiotics as preventative care are not permitted.
Yes, like all dairy in Canada, Rolling Meadow products come from cows raised without the use of added growth hormones.
Due to the climate in Southwestern Ontario and British Columbia, our pasture grazing period is approximately half of the year. Cows graze on pasture approximately 150 days, even more if the weather permits. Over the winter months, the diet for the cows primarily consists of stored grasses; this ensures we can provide you with high quality grass-fed dairy products year-round!
We think it’s fair to say that our cows have a very happy life. They spend approximately half the year outside (weather permitting) and are treated with respect and dignity at all times. If cows could smile, ours would have sore cheeks!

Good for You

The primary health benefit is that the omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio of grass fed milk is significantly improved (up to 300%) in comparison to that of non-grass fed milk (5). Less omega-6, and more omega-3 means more health benefits from omega-3, the healthy fats! Considering the omega-3 content of grass fed milk has been shown to be 3x that found in milk from cows fed a diet comprised primarily of corn silage, we feel good knowing our milk can contribute to a healthier you (6).

Grass feeding practices have also been shown to increase the content of CLA in milk by over 5x, when compared with a total mixed ration diet (7). CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) is a naturally occurring fat in dairy and some meat products. Surveys conducted show its health promoting effects in obesity, cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, diabetes, insulin resistance, inflammation, and some types of cancer (9, 10).

Beyond the nutritional benefits discussed above, consumer feedback suggests grass fed dairy is more easily digestible.
You will experience the same great taste of dairy you love, but you may find that the product feels a bit richer due to the change in the omega fatty acid ratio. Local Foodie and host of Let’s Eat!, Zane Caplansky, described our whole milk as being “sharp, rich and dense” next to conventional whole milk, which he described as being “tinny, like skim milk”.
Yes, Rolling Meadow milk is pasteurized. Milk can contain harmful bacteria in its raw state, so it is required across Canada that it be pasteurized before it is sold to consumers (4). At Rolling Meadow Dairy, we heat our milk to a minimum time and temperature of 72ºC for 16 seconds. We utilize this temperature as it protects our milk’s great flavour while ensuring that harmful bacteria are killed off (11). Compared to our competitors that may utilize temperatures of up to 158ºC to pasteurize milk, we use a much lower temperature to ensure that you are getting the best tasting milk possible.
Please keep our milk cool, it’s sensitive! Being pasteurized at a lower temperature, our milk is very sensitive to heat. We recommend paying careful attention to keep it cool at all times in order to prevent early spoilage.
Yes, all of our milk and yogourts are homogenized to provide a smooth consistency.  Homogenization prevents the separation of milk and cream by breaking the fat into smaller particles. Without homogenization, the cream in the milk would separate from the skim and rise to the top of the container.
We are always looking for ways to produce clean, simple and quality grass fed dairy products. We utilize ingredients you can pronounce and avoid adding anything we don’t have to. Our plain yogourts and kefir are made from simple blends of grass fed milk and active bacterial cultures, and our flavoured varieties are sweetened with cane sugar. We believe in providing premium grass fed dairy products and truly think you can taste the grass fed difference.
Seed that is planted on our current partner farms is non-GMO. As we begin to work with additional local farms, they may have had a different feeding protocol prior to being part of our program, so in that instance, we cannot guarantee non-GMO status. We believe in providing consumers with non-GMO products, and are working with our partner farms to ensure our products are non-GMO by immediately implementing non-GMO pasture practices.
Kefir, pronounced keh-feer, is a cultured and fermented milk beverage. It is produced from bacterial cultures and milk. Rolling Meadow Kefir is made from grass fed dairy and has 2 billion live bacterial cultures per 250 ml serving. Kefir has been shown to contribute to digestive and gut health (12). Rolling Meadow Kefir is more liquid than yogourt and is slightly effervescent. Try adding a touch of maple syrup or fresh fruit to the plain kefir for a new flavour!
Like Rolling Meadow Butter, Kiwi Pure Butter is made from milk that comes from cows fed grass year round. However, the cows who make Kiwi Pure live in New Zealand, which has a longer grazing season. We are sure you will agree that both butters are delicious, but they do have different qualities because of the differences between New Zealand and Canadian climate! For example, Kiwi Pure is more yellow in colour because of the high beta-carotene content of fresh grass and has a fat content of 83%, whereas our Rolling Meadow Butter has a fat content of 80%.
Yes, all Rolling Meadow Dairy products are certified Kosher. All Rolling Meadow Dairy Products, except for our 2L and 4L local BC milk jugs, are certified Kosher.
It is required by Canadian law that vitamin D is added to all forms of fluid and that vitamin A is added to skim and partly skimmed milks, including our chocolate milks. We work to keep our products as pure as possible, only adding what is required by law.
Yes, the milk from which our Greek Yogourt and Sour Cream is made is homogenized.
The “packaged on” date is the date the butter was packaged on. The butter is freshest for 3 months from this date if refrigerated, and a year if frozen.

Good for the Environment

Cows that graze on grass create manure on the pastures, which is a natural, sustainable fertilizer. This reduces water pollution and erosion levels and ensures better soil and better plant growth (8). At Rolling Meadow Dairy, we believe in helping our planet, and if that means grass feeding – we’re in!
Rolling Meadow products are currently not certified organic. We are proud to work with local farmers that share our high standards for environmental sustainability, animal welfare, and product safety. At this time, certifying all of the local farms where our milk is produced is inviable, but something we are continuing to review.
We are a proudly Canadian company and work with local farmers in Southwestern Ontario. These partnerships include various Mennonite and Dutch farms. We are a proudly Canadian company and work with local farmers in Southwestern Ontario and British Columbia.
Both our Classic Chocolate Milk and Dark Chocolate Milk are certified Fairtrade by Fairtrade Canada. This guarantees that our chocolate milks are made with cocoa and sugar produced by small-scale farmer organizations that meet the standards of Fairtrade Canada. These standards are in place to protect the rights of small-scale workers and help to improve their working and living conditions. Fairtrade is 50% owned by producers, ensures that farmers are paid a fair price for their products, and are offered a premium to help with other needs. As ethically produced foods are valued by Rolling Meadow Dairy, we have chosen to source Fairtrade cocoa and sugar to make our chocolate milks with. To learn more about Fairtrade Canada and its standards, visit Fairtrade Canada.

Sprouts

All Rolling Meadow Dairy Products, except for our 2L and 4L local BC milk jugs, are made with sprout-fed dairy.
The primary health benefit is an improvement of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in addition to that from consuming grass. Less omega-6 and more omega-3 means more health benefits from omega-3 fatty acids, which are the healthy fats! [5][13] An additional benefit of sprouting is the improvement of the overall health of the cows. The cows’ digestion is improved because they are consuming active enzymes and a good supply of Vitamins A, E, and B Complex. [14] Bonus: The overall taste of the sprouts is a little bit sweet, so the cows love them!
It takes 7 days to grow from seed to sprout. The seeds are soaked overnight and then seeded the next day. This process initiates the germination of the seed. For the next 6 days, the seeds are watered and placed in the sunlight. On the seventh day, the seeds grow into beautiful sprouts that are ready for harvesting (and eating!).
Our cows graze on pasture as long as weather permits. When weather does not permit, sprouts are included in their diet to help ensure we are providing the most nutrition to our cows year-round. The length of time which they are on pasture/feeding on sprouts will vary year to year depending on the weather.
Yes, we cut grasses all summer and fall to feed to our cows in the winter and early spring. They are getting grass as their primary source of food all year long – not easy to do in Canada!
This is our way of ensuring we produce the highest quality of milk, and provide the most nutrition to our cows, all year-round.

The overall health of the cows is improved because their digestion is optimized from consuming active enzymes through a living food allowing them to digest more efficiently. [13][14]


References

  1. Dairy Farmers of Ontario. (2013). FAQ- Dairy Cattle. Retrieved from https://www.milk.org/corporate/view.aspx?content=Faq/DairyCattle
  2. Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs. (2011). Trace minerals- Tiny but vital. Retrieved from http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/livestock/dairy/facts/minerals.htm
  3. Hall, J. B. (2009). Nutrition and Feeding of the Cow-Calf Herd: Digestive System of the Cow. Retrieved from http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/400/400-010/400-010.html
  4. Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs. (2013). Info Sheet Protect your family’s health Always choose pasteurized milk. Retrieved from http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/food/inspection/dairy/pasteurized_milk_infosheet.htm
  5. whygrassfed.ca. The Facts. Retrieved from http://whygrassfed.ca/#the_facts
  6. Couvreur, S., Hurtaud, C., Lopez, C., Delaby, L., & Peyraud, J. L. (2006). The Linear Relationship Between the Proportion of Fresh Grass in the Cow Diet, Milk Fatty Acid Composition, and Butter Properties. Journal Of Dairy Science, 89(6), 1956-1969.
  7. Khanal, R. C., Dhiman, T. R., & Boman, R. L. (2008). Changes in fatty acid composition of milk from lactating dairy cows during transition to and from pasture. Livestock Science, 114(2), 164-175.
  8. California Organic Fertilizers Inc. (2007). 2007 Farming Sourcebook with a focus on Sustainable & Certified Production. Retrieved from
    http://foodalliance.org/resources/farming-20sourcebook-202007.pdf
  9. Bialek, A., Tokarz, A., (2013) Conjugated linoleic acid as a potentiation protective factor in prevention of breast cancer. Postepy Hig Med Dosw. Pubmed. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23475478
  10. Basu, Samar, PhD., Jovinge, Stefan MD, PhD., et al., American Heart Association, Supplementation with Conjugated Lnoleic Acid Causes Isomer-dependent Oxidative Stress and Elevated C-Reactive Protein, http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/106/15/1925.short
  11. Dr. Angela Fraser, Associate Professor/Food Safety Education Specialist, Clemson University, Clemson, SC. http://www.foodsafetysite.com/educators/competencies/general/foodprocessing/processing2.html
  12. Dr. Axe. 7 Kefir Benefits and Nutrition Facts. Retrieved from http://draxe.com/kefir-benefits/.
  13. Benson, Fay, & Burrichter, Liz (2014). Sprouted Barley Fodder Fact Sheet. Retrieved from http://blogs.cornell.edu/organicdairyinitiative/files/2014/05/Sprouted-Barley-Fodder-Fact-sheet-2cobct5.pdf.
  14. Weiss, Bill, The Ohio State University (2013). Update on Vitamin Nutrition of Dairy Cows. Retrieved from http://articles.extension.org/pages/25924/update-on-vitamin-nutrition-of-dairy-cows.