Well, it’s that time of year again! The dairy cattle have moved out to graze on lush green pastures and they’re enjoying every bit of it.
Much of the milk sold in North Dakota grocery stores comes from large confinement dairies that don’t do much in the way of grazing. Total Mixed Rations (TMR) are standard practice for most large dairies, meaning the cow’s complete diet is brought to them in the barn. They’re not out swishing their tails on green pastures swooping in mouthfuls of fresh “salad bar” each day. Not so at Bartlett Farms!
Here’s three ways grazing makes raw milk better:
1. Grazing gives raw milk a high vitamin content. Grass and clovers (and other plants cows eat in the pasture) contain many different vitamins and minerals that help plants grow. When cows eat the grass, the vitamins are absorbed into the cow’s blood stream as she makes milk. Raw milk produced when cows are grazing on pasture has the richest vitamin content of any time of the year. In Bottineau North Dakota, the grazing season is from mid-May to the end of October.
2. Grazing increases cancer-fighting CLA in raw milk. “Cows on fresh pasture produce milk with much higher contents of conjugated linoleic acids (CLA). The type of CLA found in milk has been shown to have anti-cancer effects in animal studies.”  Generations past likely experienced less cancer because they grew up eating foods that naturally fortified their body’s immune system. Raw milk from grazing cows is one of those time-tested foods that can help reduce cancer in today’s world.
3. Grazing reduces stress on cows and makes for healthier milk. Stress plays a role in animals just like it does for people. When cows are confined to cement barns, they are often stressed much more than cows allowed to range in the pasture. Stress contributes to higher bacteria counts and white blood cells in milk, making milk sour quicker. Milk from grazing cattle typically has a very low bacteria count, meaning longer-lasting, fresher milk to enjoy.
Next time you enjoy a glass of real raw milk from a grazing cow, remember how grazing makes that raw milk so much better!