Organic dairy

cow grazing

You get a lot for your money when you purchase organic dairy.

You’re assured organic milk, butter, yogurt, cheese and ice cream come from animals that weren’t treated with antibiotics and hormones, so they’re better for you and your family.

Choosing organic dairy also supports family farmers and a system of agriculture that’s environmentally sound, assuring the health and vitality of both animals and land.

Healthy, happy cows

Research shows cows on organic dairy farms are healthier and less stressed than conventional cows. On average, cows on grass-based dairy farms live three to four years longer than cows on high-production, non-organic farms.

It turns out that what’s better for cows also is better for everyone who drinks their milk. While conventional cows produce a higher volume of milk per day, pastured dairy cows produce more nutrient-dense milk with more heart-healthy fats, such as conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and omega-3s.

No growth promoters or hormones are allowed. Hormones are used routinely by non-organic dairies. Shoppers who wish to avoid dairy produced with artificial hormones and drugs should choose organic.

Antibiotics and other drugs may not be used routinely as preventive measures. Treatment is required for illness or to save an animal’s life, but afterward the animal products can’t be labeled organic.

Organic dairy animals are fed 100-percent organic feed. It’s vegetarian feed, with only plant-based fiber sources. The feed never is genetically engineered and is grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides.

Animals are raised humanely. Cattle, sheep and goats must have access to outside pastures and direct sunlight.

Organic dairy animals graze on grass. Organic animals must graze on grass for the full length of the local grazing season, for a minimum of 120 days. Conventional dairy farms are not required to pasture their cows.

Organic dairy is traceable back to the farm.Records are required for all feeding and healthcare practices for each animal. There is a verifiable audit trail to trace any animal back to its origin.

The benefits of organic dairy

Better for you

When cows eat grass, their milk is different than that of grain-fed cows. A study found that organic milk, compared to conventional, contained 60 to 80 percent more antioxidants and healthy fats when the cows are eating fresh grass in the summer, and 50 to 60 percent more in the winter.

Organic dairy has been shown to have higher levels of vitamin E, heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. The benefits can be passed on. A study of lactating mothers found those consuming the greatest percentage of their meat and dairy from organic sources had the highest levels of heart-healthy, anti-inflammatory fats called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) in their breast milk.

Better for the environment

Methane gas produced by cows is a potent greenhouse gas. Grass-based organic dairy farms produce substantially less of it — up to 40 percent less than a non-organic dairy farm. Also, organic agriculture means no synthetic pesticides or fertilizers are used to grow feed.

Better for farmers

According to a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists, the organic dairy sector provides greater economic opportunity and generates more jobs in rural communities than conventional dairies.

More about: dairy, milk, organic food, pastured meat and dairy

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