These days, you hear a lot about how grass-feeding versus conventional grain-feeding can make a difference in the flavor of meat and dairy. What does it mean and how can a different diet change the milk?
Since 2009, Maple Hill Creamery has been crafting whole-milk dairy products from cows in upstate New York that are 100% grass-fed. Their organic yogurts have an earthy flavor and smooth texture. Sugar, artificial flavors, colors and thickeners are never added to their products.
Their yogurt is tastefully tart, smooth and topped with a layer of cream on top. Each whole-milk product they craft begins as a single blade of grass.
According to the dairy’s website, their farmers pay close attention to the varieties of grass the cows are eating and the growth stages of the grass as it varies from each season. They guide the cows to eat areas of grasses prior to the seeding stage. Once seeding begins in the fall, the grass uses all the energy and protein to mature the seedhead, which reduces its nutritional quality for the cows. This grazing and growing process circumvents the resources typically used to produce corn, soybeans or grains that dairy cows consume.
Cows are ruminants, which means they are meant to thrive on fibrous grasses and plants. Their rumen is a four-part digestive system with a specific digestive flora.
So, what happens when a cow is fed a grain-based diet instead of a 100% grass diet?
When a cow eats corn and grain, the pH of the rumen begins to drop and becomes acidic, which destroys some of the digestive flora. While a diet of corn and grain may increase a cow’s milk yield, it can degrade the milk’s quality. Additionally, an acidic rumen can cause a variety of ailments for the cow, stemming from inflammation. Generally speaking, the cow’s lifespan will be shorter, and the chance of infection is higher.
When a cow eats a grass diet, the digestive flora flourishes, aiding with digestion and keeping the immune system strong with a healthy body. Testing has shown that milk from 100% grass-fed cows has higher levels of omega-3 levels than other dairy. Additionally, the milk has 3 to 5 times the amount of beta-carotene.
Because of the seasonality of the grass or wildflowers the cows consume, the flavor of the Maple Hill Creamery products can vary during the year. It brings about a special taste experience. Look for the Maple Hill Creamery Cream on Top Yogurt, Greek Yogurt and Drinkable Yogurt in the FRESH dairy case. Give it a try and taste the difference!