As most in the Texas organic world know I have not been an organic specialist for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension long, and the learning curve about organic in Texas is an everyday thing!
Last June, Henk Postmus, a local organic dairyman (Stephenville/Dublin) and I had a long conversation about “grassmilk” also known as organic grass-fed milk. He wanted to know all about it because he believed it would work in Central Texas with our good pastures, rainfall, irrigation and warm climate. To be honest I knew about organic dairy products because I have known Henk a long time, but I didn’t know about grassmilk. That organic learning curve has been steep but fantastic!
First, grassmilk or grass-fed is organic because the first requirement to be a grass-fed dairy is to be organic. The second very basic requirement is that you cannot feed grain – any grain, at any time. All the feed has to be based on forages, whether grass (monocots) or dicots (clovers, turnips, alfalfa), and you cannot harvest a silage with the grain head (corn, sorghum, wheat). The other requirement is at least 150 days of grazing per year which is no problem in Texas.
Grassmilk does have several large research studies done in the US that shows it to be high on omega 3 fatty acid and much lower in omega 6 fatty acid which is supposed to be healthier for you. (click the link below for more info)
As I began checking into grass-fed dairies I heard a rumor that Aurora Organic had begun milking again at their facility near Dublin. I had stopped in a couple of times but had missed the manager. Finally I did connect with Dawn Dial, manager of the Pepper Dairy for Aurora (picture above) and I asked about grass-fed dairies and found out they have been grass-fed for nearly two years. Dawn is pretty enthusiastic about the whole process and I will have to say it is an interesting way to dairy. The milk is really good and the unique thing is that the flavors change based on the forages the cows eat.
Needless to say, Henk has been visiting with Dawn at the Aurora Pepper Dairy and with the Aurora Organic Dairy company to learn more. Considering the way grain commodities keep going up, especially organic grain, this may be a trend for more dairies.