contented cows + tasty milk

As the new grass pushes through, our dairy herds have been leaping and bucking their way onto spring pasture; definitely a highlight of our farming year. Their diet will now shift to the increasingly rich fresh grass, and you’ll be able to taste the difference in their milk over the coming months. This is only possible as our milk is packed within yards of where each herd is milked, rather than being standardised at large processing plants, so its flavour is a true reflection of the herd’s free-range lifestyle.

The lynchpin of organic milk production is that it’s as natural as possible. Unlike in non-organic farming, there’s no routine use of antibiotics on the animals, and their pasture is grown without artificial fertilisers. Organic rules also forbid genetically modified ingredients going into any additional feed.

All these standards might seem respectable enough, but, animal welfare aside, there’s little point unless they influence milk quality. However on our farm in Devon we’ve come across a pleasing illustration of how what goes into a cow really can impact what comes out. The Riverford dairy herd gets to eat all the veg that doesn’t make the grade for your vegboxes; things like squashed peppers and broken broccoli, which they love. However we’ve learned the perils of some rogue onions or garlic getting in; it taints the flavour of the milk. So, as what goes in really can come out, the fact that organic cows are fed as naturally as possible is all the more important. There’s good evidence that organic milk is better for you in other ways too. A study based on extensive research at Newcastle University and reported in the Independent found that organic milk has more beneficial fatty acids and lower levels of harmful saturated fats.