A decade ago, we started our real food journey. That has led to numerous farm changes. One is the incorporation of dairy cattle on our farm. Researching diverse methods of natural healing, I kept coming across raw milk. I believed it to be a true missing link in our holistic approach to life and farming.
Fast forward 10 years and we still believe the very same thing. Although we have learned a veritable bookstore's worth of knowledge on farming in general, we were very slow learners when it came to dairy cattle, genetics in particular.
We basically had a game-show approach to this vital part of the farm and our health. Not smart. At all. Along that learning curve, we bought numerous "problems" from other farms. All these farms chose to feed grain to their dairy cows. We assumed we could wean them off the grain and onto grass for the healthiest milk possible. That was not the case. We learned, just as we already knew with beef cattle, genetics matter. A LOT.
We finally found grass genetics dairy cows. We bought 3 Jersey cows from a grass based dairy in our state. They were bred and expecting soon. Our first girl to calve got milk fever and died. Welcome to our world of "continual shaking of the head" syndrome! Thankfully, we have been on the upswing since.
One thing the dairy herd has allowed us to do is experiment a little. We have crossed our Jersey girls with the Devon, a grass based Jersey bull, and a Normande bull. Currently we are using a Jersey bull we have raised and developed. He's been our favorite, not surprisingly.
Two years ago, we began genetic testing for the A2/A2 gene in our dairy girls. We were pleased that our girls and offspring have the A2/A2 gene. We believe this makes for a superior raw milk product.
Specifically, we graze our Jerseys in a daily rotation as our beef cattle, but not with the beef cattle. We allow the cows to raise their calf. We pen the calves in the evenings and milk once a day, in the morning. Our feeding program consists of ever-improving grasses, free-choice mineral and alfalfa pellets at milking and a few more in the evening. We do not feed grain to any ruminant. We also do not expect them to produce as much milk as a dairy cow eating a hot ration of highly charged feed. We sell our milk from the farm where quotas aren't important. Just healthy families enjoying our raw, A2/A2, grassfed milk.