Frequently Asked Questions
Why don’t you use glass bottles?
As far as using glass bottles, that was our original plan. It was part of the dream and it took a lot for us to turn to plastic. Once we started looking into glass, we realized that glass is just not economically viable for us. The glass weighs too much, we would have to have a separate building or room for the bottles to be washed and stored, bigger trucks, more deliveries, CDL licenses for our drivers, pay the drivers more, etc. The hassle of getting all the bottles returned is an issue as well as dealing with broken glass. The cost of the bottles alone is a barrier.
We bottle in HDPE #2 plastic, that is a non-leaching type of plastic. But, if you are concerned about it at all, put the milk you purchase into glass containers upon arriving at home. I believe that the plastic doesn’t leach unless it is in sunlight or frozen anyway, which our milk is never exposed to.
What do you feed your cows?
Our cows are pasture based and so their diet revolves around this concept. We rotationally graze as long as the weather and pasture allows, about 6 or 7 months out of the year. The factors in play are the temperature and the rainfall. Too cold and the grass won’t grow. Too much rain and the land will get too muddy with heavy hooves. So, there has to be grass for the cows to eat and the fields have to be dry enough to take cows tromping all over. Our land could be certified organic if we pursued this. We fertilize with liquid manure only. No commercial fertilizers, no pesticides, no herbicides. Alfalfa hay supplements pasture during the transition from hay to pasture in the spring and then pasture to hay to start the winter.
We buy our alfalfa hay through the Leitz family Hay Company in Sequim. They get the highest quality alfalfa hay from eastern Washington. The cows have access to this hay at all times in the winter months.
Our grain comes from a family owned grain company called Elenbaas in Sumas. Dungeness Valley Creamery has officially eliminated all corn from our cow’s grain ration! Our grain ration consists of wheat, barley, oats, molasses, and minerals. No antibiotics, no soy products, no cottonseed and no hormones and now…no corn or canola oil!
Forage (grass and/or hay) makes up about 80% of the cow’s diet while grain makes up about 20%. Our dairy farm feeds less grain than most because we feel it is a more natural diet and healthier for the cow.
The grain and hay is not certified organic but is high quality and we are happy with the service of the feed businesses we’ve been working with for years.
Why do you feed grain?
Some people have decided that grain=bad. Well, it is not that simple. Let me explain what we do.
Yes, we do feed some grain in the parlor during milking. We always have. We have taken all of the corn, soybean, and now canola out of the ration to eliminate the possibility of GMO’s in the grain. I recently learned that we used a minute amount of canola to bind the grain in pellets. It is now removed. We feed about 5 lbs of grain a milking per cow. This is almost half of what conventional dairies feed. Hay and grass make up 80% or more of their diet. We feed some grain for the health of the cow. They need the energy and alternative protein source that grain provides. Cows are major productive animals and their energy requirements are huge. We must provide them with adequate nutrition.
The problem with grain is not grain itself. It is the amount of grain. If you feed a cow too much grain, the pH in her rumen will decrease and become more acidic than it should be. This can cause acidosis, which can cause cows to go off of feed which can cause displaced abomasums and all sorts of digestive upsets. Farmers feed too much grain because they are trying to push the cow too much and get that peak production. They are walking a tight line which doesn’t always pay off. Most of these “farmers” are really business men running a milk factory. We have ZERO signs of acidosis in our cows and have no displaced abomasums (DA’s) in years. Some dairies perform almost daily surgeries on DA cows. You can be assured that we know how to take care of our cows and they are very healthy. Cows digestive systems are very sensitive to diet changes (they have four compartments to their stomach!) and so we have to be very careful when adjusting rations. You could really damage a herd of cows if you aren’t careful. Cow’s health must come first. It is also important to realize that a cow must be healthy to be productive. A cow producing a lot of milk (naturally) must be a healthy cow. A sick or under-nourished cow cannot physiologically produce a large quantity of milk. Our cows produce about 45-50 lbs a day which is very average. We don’t push our cows with massive amounts of grain and hormones. Like I said earlier, people that push are walking a tight line and the cow’s health is at risk.