HOW ARE YOUR COWS MILKED?
The cows are milked by a machine twice a day. Each milking takes between 5-10 minutes, with about 3-4 minutes of that with the milking machine on. Machine milking is actually the best, most human way to milk a cow; the pulsing, rest phase and vacuum levels are very carefully calibrated. They're cleaner than human hands, preventing potential bacteria from spreading from cow to cow. Our machines can also sense when milking is complete and automatically remove from the cow.
WHERE DO YOUR COWS LIVE?
Our milking cows are housed in free-stall barns. These barns are specially designed for our cows comfort. In our hot, humid Florida climate these barns are a life-saver year round because our cows are able to stay cool and comfortable. In free-stalls they have access to fresh feed and water at all times. Our cows also always have a clean, dry place to lay. The name "free-stall' is very fitting, because cows have the freedom to do as they please, while having every luxury amenity available to them. A free-stall is basically a 5-star hotel for cows! They have freedom to socialize, eat, drink water or just snooze as they chew their cuds.
WHAT IS THE BENEFIT TO FREE-STALLS?
We want to be clear, there is no wrong way or right way to farm. Each individual farmer makes management decisions that are best for their farm, their cows and their employees.
The two biggest reasons for our shift from housing our cows on pasture to free-stalls:
COW COMFORT and ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY.
We are able to control and guarantee our cows comfort 100% of the time. With the use of hundreds of fans and misters our cows stay cool, even on the hottest of Florida days. One thing to keep in mind is that a 1,500 lb. dairy cow begins to get hot and uncomfortable around 65 degrees. A temperature we only see down here a few times a year!
Free-stall barns also help us do our part environmentally and insure clean water and resources for future generations. Our barns are designed so we are able to recycle water, sand and solids. We also have been able to implement practices so zero water run-off leaves the farm.
WHERE CAN WE BUY YOUR MILK?
We market our milk through a cooperative. Publix brand milk is one way to know you are getting fresh, local milk from local dairy families just like ours.
IS YOUR MILK ANTIBIOTIC FREE?
Yes. All milk is free of antibiotics regardless of production technique or farm size. Organic, conventional, grass-fed, doesn't matter- IT'S ALL ANTIBIOTIC FREE!
As you know, antibiotics do not promote milk production. We like to compare antibiotic use for our animals to antibiotics in your family. You would not just give yourself or your child antibiotics for no reason, and we don’t give them to the girls for no reason. By the same token, we would not just let one of our cows go untreated and die. If one of our animals is ill we call our veterinarian, they make a barn call and check the cow, make a diagnosis and prescribe the correct medication. Each medication comes with rules of usage. Any cow that has received medication is clearly marked with colorful leg bands and is moved to our cow hospital. The milk is discarded for the indicated time, then we have the milk tested for any residue before we reintroduce it back into the tank. The health of the our ladies is very important because, healthy happy cows make the best milk!!!
DO YOU USE ANTIBIOTICS ON YOUR FARM?
We are committed to providing you with antibiotic-free milk, yet our commitment to our cows' health and well-being requires that antibiotics occasionally be administered. We minimize our use of antibiotics by focusing on preventative measures such as providing proper nutrition and living conditions, but when antibiotics are necessary they are used judiciously and in accordance with all labels and veterinary guidance. Milk from treated cows is discarded until it is free of residue, and every load of milk received at the dairy processing plant is tested prior to being unloaded to ensure its quality and safety.
WHAT DO YOU FEED YOUR COWS?
Our cows are fed a smorgasbord of the finest hay, silage and grass, combined with minerals and local by-products. Our cows have their own nutritionist who monitor their diet, as well as their own personal chef who brings fresh feed to them via room-service. They wash it down with fresh, clean water (about 35-50 gallons a day) to quench their thirst and help them produce the freshest, tastiest milk.
HOW MANY COWS ARE ON YOUR FARM?
We milk around 1,400 cows and have about 1,400 heifers and calves on the farm. We want to provide your family and thousands of others with wholesome, dairy products and we believe we can do that by being a large dairy with outstanding integrity.
DO YOU USE GROWTH HORMONES/ RBST?
We do not... but keep reading.
rBST is a man-made version of the naturally occurring growth hormone BST found in dairy cows. This is a hormone that only affects cows and is not found in or becomes active in humans. When properly used by a dairy farmer it can increase milk production by 10% and keeps cows healthier by assuring that they are metabolically active.
Unfortunately, the movement against using rBST was started when the dairy industry did not communicate the safety and benefits of this product in a timely and proper way to the consumer. At the same time, companies began exploiting consumer fears by using irresponsible absent-claim marketing tactics, thereby creating a very poor overall perception of rBST to the consumer.
It is unfortunate that this perception was created, as rBST is not only safe for cows and humans, it is an environmentally friendly safe-science management tool. By using rBST, dairy cows and farmers would be able to produce the same amount of milk with 6% less land use and 10% fewer cows, there by offsetting the carbon footprint of a gallon of milk by 8% less than it is today. While the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), WHO (World Health Organization) and NIH (National Institutes of Health) have stated that milk from cows treated with rBST is safe to consume, the misperception that it is unsafe remains strong with consumers. This common misperception is the sole reason most farmers do not treat their cows with rBST.
WHAT BREEDS OF COWS DO YOU HAVE?
Here at Milking R we have Holsteins (large, black and white), Brown Swiss (can be fifty shades of brown, sweet yet sassy and Lindsey's favorite breed ), and Jersey (smallest of the breeds, higher butterfat in their milk and are very opinionated for their petite size!).
We also have several crossbreeds. Holstein/Jersey crosses pack the punch of producing large quantities of milk higher in butterfat, yet having a smaller Jersey frame. They are typically a deep chocolate color and sometimes have white markings. Producing more with less makes these girls very efficient.
The Brown Swiss/Holstein cross also combine the best of both breeds. They are high producing like a Holstein but produce milk higher in butterfat and protein like a Swiss. They are also more heat tolerate and hardy than a purebred Holstein, traits inherited from their Brown Swiss influence.
HOW MUCH MILK DO COWS PRODUCE?
All farms are different but here at the Milking R each cow produces about 75 lbs of milk in the summer months and around 85 lbs in the winter. A gallon of milk weighs 8.6 lbs--- meaning our ladies produce an average of 9 gallons of milk to feed families just like yours everyday.