A Healthy Diet for Healthier Milk
Over the years, Milky Way Farm has developed quite a following for its rich, delicious, healthy raw milk. Unlike most types of milk, raw milk is chilled “straight from the cow” with no processing to alter its flavor or nutritional integrity. To assure the high quality of our milk, we feed our cows the healthiest diet possible. This starts with 24-hour access to green grass—the staple of our cows’ diet. We also provide hay, particularly mid-summer and winter when grass is less plentiful, and individually feed a small amount of grain for extra protein when needed.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
All A2 milk comes from Jersey, Guernsey, Asian and African cattle populations which have a higher prevalence of A2 genes. A1 milk primarily comes from Holstein cows. Unlike A1 milk which has both A1 and A2 beta casein proteins, A2 milk has only A2 beta casein. A1 beta casein produces an opiate peptide (BCM-7), which makes milk slower and more difficult to digest. BCM-7 has also been linked to several health risks including gastrointestinal issues, type 1 diabetes, heart disease, autism and SIDS. All A2 milk does not produce BCM-7, potentially making it a healthier, more lactose-tolerant milk choice. Milky Way Farm Grade A milk is all A2 milk from all A2-tested, pastured Jersey cows. For this reason, we believe it is the healthiest milk you can drink.
- All A2 Raw Milk, Buttermilk and Cream
- All A2 Pasteurized Non-Homogenized Whole Milk and Chocolate Milk
Our milk business is founded on raw milk that is unaltered in any way. Our goal is to produce the safest, most nutritionist and best tasting raw milk. Providing South Carolinians with whole raw milk will always be the foundation or our business model. In February 2021 we opened a new state of the art creamery that allows us to continue bottling whole raw milk, buttermilk, and cream, but also allows us to vat pasteurize milk in order to provide customers with whole pasteurized milk and whole pasteurized chocolate milk.
Pure raw milk is completely natural meaning it is not pasteurized or homogenized. Pasteurization began in the early 1900s because dairy conditions were unsanitary at that time. Most non-organic milk is heated to 161° for 15-20 seconds to kill bacteria. Most organic milk is heated to 280° for 1-2 seconds to kill bacteria (as well as most nutrients).
Pasteurization, however, is not essential to assure a healthy milk supply. South Carolina raw milk dairy farmers are held to a higher standard than raw milk dairies in neighboring states. It is important to always make sure your milk (processed or raw) is regulated by a certified food safety important is to always make sure your milk (processed or raw) is regulated by a certified food safety agency or health department, is certified as grade A, and is tested on a regular basis.
In standard milk pasteurization, milk is heated to high temperature for a short time (161°F for 15 seconds). In vat pasteurization, milk is heated in small batches to a lower temperature for a longer time (145°F for 30 minutes) and then rapidly cooled. Vat pasteurization is “gentler” and thus preserves more potentially beneficial substances like proteins and enzymes, while preserving the flavor.
Though all raw milk is non-homogenized, not all non-homogenized milk is raw. When milk is not homogenized, its fat separates out, producing a layer of cream on top. Developed in the late 19th century, commercial homogenization is a mechanical process that breaks up the fat globules to such a small size that they remain suspended evenly in the milk. The health benefits to consuming non-homogenized milk remain debatable, but one thing is for sure our milk’s cream will always rise to the top and the flavor cannot be beat.
The SC Health Department runs monthly tests on our raw milk for E. coli, bacteria and SCC. Johnes, TB and Brucellosis (Bangs disease) tests are conducted yearly.
The Grade A milk standards are as follows:
• Standard Plate Count (SPC) bacteria – must be below 10,000 (our milk is normally below 1,000)
• Somatic Cell Count (SCC) – must be below 1 million (our milk is normally below 250,000)
• E. coli – must be 30 or below (our milk is normally less than 2)
Because cows are ruminants, their digestive system is designed to intake grass. However, dairy cows, like nursing mothers, need extra protein and vitamins to produce milk. For that reason, we supplement pasture grazing with around 15% feed for our milking herd. It can be up to 20 to 25% when the pasture grass is not sufficiently available in the coldest times of winter and hottest times of summer.
Most dairy farmers feed cows Total Mixed Rations (TMR) which contains as much as 70% or more corn silage and other grains, to increase the milk production. This type fed process can dramatically the lifespan and quality of life for the cow. In contrast, we never feed our cows corn silage (which can also alter the milk’s flavor), nor do we give them antibiotics or hormones to boost milk production. As a result, our cows live up to 15 years versus three to four years in many commercial environments.
The subject of genetically modified organisms (GMO) has become a hot topic for several years and with good reason as it is a complicated issue. According to the US Agriculture Economic Research Service, 93% of soy and 88% of corn is genetically engineered. In addition, virtually all restaurants and grocery stores (including natural food markets) use and sell GMO products. Even alcoholic beverages are made from GMO-grains!
Our cows are our livelihood and our passion, so we assure their diet is as wholesome as possible. Do we directly buy GMO grain? No. We buy our grain from a small local mill which produces a superb feed, even though it cannot be guaranteed GMO-free. Some of our competitors claim that their cows are fed a GMO-free diet, but that is rarely the case. At Milky Way Farm, we are always honest with customers, so here are the facts.
- For most grain suppliers, it is impossible to tell how much GMO grain gets into the system. So even if you buy non-GMO grain, it is possible for GMO grain to be included.
- Guaranteed GMO-free grain is extremely rare and costly—so much so that it would more than double the price of milk. And most people cannot afford $15 for a gallon of milk.
- Because of pollen drift and cross-pollination, even organic and non-GMO-certified grain can have traces of GMO. When a bee pollinates a GMO plant and then pollinates a non-GMO plant, the non-GMO plant becomes contaminated. Many recent studies show that often GMO-free crops test positive for GMO.
- The greatest portion of what our cows eat is from non-GMO products. The majority of our cows’ diet is from grazing on grass in our pasture or on hay that we grow on the farm. They also have the option of getting a rationed amount of grain prescribed specifically for Jersey cows by a dairy nutritionist. Because the milk from Jersey cows contains 20% more calcium and 20% more protein, they need some feed that contains ample sources of protein since they cannot get all they need from grass. Dairy cows, like nursing mothers, need extra protein and vitamins to produce milk, birth healthy calves and maintain their own health.
While organic milk offers environmental benefits and is often certified GMO-free, the way it is processed destroys most of the vitamins or bacteria that help you digest milk. Most organic milk is pasteurized at ultra-high temperatures (UHT) which means it is heated at high heat to kill the natural bacteria in milk. This gives the milk a longer shelf-life. However, milk needs bacteria to help people digest it easily. That is why an increasing number of people are lactose intolerant.
Raw milk is the most natural milk you can drink because it is neither pasteurized nor homogenized. Raw milk also includes more protein and the full range of vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D and E found naturally in milk. When milk is pasteurized at high temperatures, it loses up to two-thirds of its natural vitamins A, D and E, half of its vitamin C and calcium, and virtually all the vitamins B6 and B12.
At Milky Way Farm, we also use a special cooling method that chills milk below 40 degrees within seconds of it leaving the cow. This provides a longer shelf-life without killing off the “good” bacteria.
Our herd of cows is never given hormones or steroids.
We do not use restricted chemicals on the farm.