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Wannabe Geek
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Topic # 151098 13-Aug-2014 23:59
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I've been operating under the assumption that all dairy in NZ is grass fed but I'm not 100% sure because NOTHING IS LABELLED WHETHER ITS GRASS FED OR NOT.

The butter seems to be, as it has a deep-yellow colour as opposed to the pale-yellow colour that grain-fed butter has.

However I'm having some doubts about the milk. I've read some stories that Fonterra has been sneakily grain feeding their cows with palm kernel extract. Plus ordinary milk such as anchor milk tastes like crap compared to milk you buy off farmers. It tastes dead and lifeless, with no vibrancy and barely any flavour. That could just an effect of the pasteurization and homogenization processes though.

Keen to hear your thoughts on this.


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  Reply # 1108039 14-Aug-2014 01:04
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I'm interested to know why this is important to you.

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  Reply # 1108041 14-Aug-2014 01:14
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A lot of cows are fed silage too. Its a mixture but generally a cow is fed something relating to grass.





 


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  Reply # 1108042 14-Aug-2014 01:36
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So far as I know all dairy cows in New Zealand are grass fed, however many farmers supplement the grass with other feed such as grass silage, maize silage, hay, grain or palm kernel especially at times of the year when there is insufficient grass growth, like in winter or during a drought.

Fonterra with perhaps the odd exception don't have any farms of their own. Their milk comes from their farmer suppliers so it is incorrect and grossly unfair to say Fonterra are sneakily feeding palm kernel to their cows.

The milk that is used for butter or the milk supply will generally come from the same farms so there will be no major differences there.

Why does the milk from the supermarket taste different from that at the farm gate? They are basically two different products, with the farm gate product having a much higher protein level.

To maximise the returns the milk companies of which Fonterra is one, separate off various ingredients (mainly protein) from the full cream milk that comes off the farm, to be used in other products.  Basically they pull the milk apart and then put it back together minus some ingredients. By regulation milk has to have minimum levels of certain ingredients, after the separation process these are added back in to meet these requirements. This is the milk you buy at the supermarket. Then you have all of the designer Light Blue, Green, and Yellow top variants.

Pastuerisation will have no effect, though homogenisation might do.

The colour of the butter used to vary during the season with it being much more yellow during the early part of the season. This had nothing to do with what the cows were being fed but rather the milk was "richer" during the period just after the cows had calved and the cows were producing this 'richer' milk for their new born calf. I suspect the various processes used today (mainly to extract protein) tend to reduce this effect.




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  Reply # 1108043 14-Aug-2014 02:25
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eracode: I'm interested to know why this is important to you.


I suspect for the same reason that its important to me. Cows are meant to eat grass and not grains or worse, corn.

Luckily we a not like the US where cows are feed almost entirely on grain and corn which creates parasites in the gut - as cows wouldn't normally eat this stuff - which in turn results in the use of antibiotics. Studies have also shown that grass fed meat and dairy has higher nutrient composition vs grain fed.

I would prefer my meat and dairy was eating naturally and was free range - the US use giant feed lots, kind of like a factory - just think about mad cow disease which was basically caused by cows eating cows. 




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  Reply # 1108060 14-Aug-2014 06:41
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geekiegeek:
eracode: I'm interested to know why this is important to you.


I suspect for the same reason that its important to me. Cows are meant to eat grass and not grains or worse, corn.

Luckily we a not like the US where cows are feed almost entirely on grain and corn which creates parasites in the gut - as cows wouldn't normally eat this stuff - which in turn results in the use of antibiotics. Studies have also shown that grass fed meat and dairy has higher nutrient composition vs grain fed.

I would prefer my meat and dairy was eating naturally and was free range - the US use giant feed lots, kind of like a factory - just think about mad cow disease which was basically caused by cows eating cows. 


Thanks gg - that makes sense. I haven't thought about this before - perhaps because I assumed I didn't need to - now food for thought.

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  Reply # 1108101 14-Aug-2014 08:45
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What makes NZ farming as efficient as it is, is the ability to produce from pasture. Apart from fertilizer, which is a whole other discussion in itself, nature provides the rest. The only time most farmers need to intervene with supplemental feed is when nature let's them down with either too little or too much rain, or extreme ( by NZ standards) cold. Hay and silage is still grass. Offseason supplemental feed crops like turnips, swede and kale are used. They aren't grass, but are eaten fresh, which I guess fulfills the 'free range' aspect.
As far as I know the ingredients of butter are buttermilk (whole milk minus the whey) and salt. The beta carotene in grass fed milk produces a deeper yellow color but milk fat is naturally yellow anyhow.




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  Reply # 1108174 14-Aug-2014 10:12
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The basis of most of the NZ feeds are grass but that's far from the only feed that is used and that is year round too not just in the summer and winter months.

Grains aren't used by most NZ farmers as they are just too expensive. The more common feeds are silage (cut and wrapped grass essentially) maize silage (almost like a corn but the whole plant is used rather than just the cob) and palm kernel (a brown powder made from grinding up the discarded husk of palm after it's had all the oil extracted) but there is a long list of other feeds that are used as well. (swedes, turnips, cotton seed, brewers grain, straw...)

In the US and many other places most dairy farms are shed based and use a cut and carry process where the food is grown on or off site and then fed in the sheds.

NZ cows are often smaller than the US counterparts but then they are bred for different purposes. In the US the farmer is paid for the litres of milk that they produce where in NZ it's kg of milk solids. What this means is that it's better in the US to produce more milk even if it's low in calcium, protein, fat etc where in NZ all of these are important. This is really because in most countries their milk supply goes to local milk supply where in NZ the local milk market is a small part of the production and most is made into butter, cheese, health supplements where a higher milk solid is required.

As far as what milk tastes like between the farm gate and the dairy that will be largely homogenisation which is taking the fat that is normally separate from the milk and making it uniform through the bottle. This changes both the appearance and colour of the milk. The pasteurisation also significantly changes the flavour of the milk as this is heating the milk up to remove anything that's living in the milk. I believe that this also changes the colour but could be wrong about that. Neither process ruin the milk but it definitely tastes different after it.

As far as labeling milk to say how it has been produced this is just not feasible. Every different farm has a different feeding methodology and a single tanker will pick up milk from numerous farms. Once it's in the tank you can no longer say which came from which farm. Then when it arrives at the factory it's into another bigger tank so even worse. There are milk samples that are taken of each pickup but this is for payments (milk fat, protein etc) as well as safety to make sure that there are no contaminants in the milk. The only way that someone could list on the bottle their farm management and feeding policy would be if it was the farmer supplying the milk. Otherwise the milk is safe and better quality than most places.

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  Reply # 1108185 14-Aug-2014 10:39
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Keen to hear your thoughts on this.


I saw this on Country Calander the other week, so I don't think it is safe to assume it is all grass fed, which is a pity

http://tvnz.co.nz/country-calendar/episode-21-milk-max-6011991

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  Reply # 1108214 14-Aug-2014 11:06
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If I remember correctly, there is a very large beef farm in North Canterbury that produces beef exclusively for the Japanese market. Grass fed beef is considered inferior in Japan so the North Canterbury farm is entirely grain fed.

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  Reply # 1108218 14-Aug-2014 11:12
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eracode: I'm interested to know why this is important to you.


Besides all the great reasons Geekiegeek mentioned, another reason it is important to me is because I want to refrain from using anything palm oil related by any means possible, no matter how small a contribution I make to the overall problem.




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  Reply # 1108220 14-Aug-2014 11:16
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Besides all the great reasons Geekiegeek mentioned, another reason it is important to me is because I want to refrain from using anything palm oil related by any means possible, no matter how small a contribution I make to the overall problem.


Palm Kernel isn't made from palm oil. Before they realised that cows could eat it and that they could use it in power stations they just dumped it. While the palm oil industry isn't great at least it no longer causing more pollution by also dumping massive amounts of waste.

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  Reply # 1108231 14-Aug-2014 11:29
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Klathman: Palm Kernel isn't made from palm oil. Before they realised that cows could eat it and that they could use it in power stations they just dumped it. While the palm oil industry isn't great at least it no longer causing more pollution by also dumping massive amounts of waste.


Palm oil is made from palm kernel though :) I agree that at least it is not being dumped (which is awesome) and yay for recycling but yeah, feeding animals a non-ethical industry byproduct they wouldn't normally consume doesn't exactly instill confidence. :P






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  Reply # 1108380 14-Aug-2014 13:29
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jfanning:

I saw this on Country Calander the other week, so I don't think it is safe to assume it is all grass fed, which is a pity

http://tvnz.co.nz/country-calendar/episode-21-milk-max-6011991


I just read that. This bothered me:  "I truly believe New Zealand has the potential to triple its bottom-line if we can get our heads around using food waste to power our dairy herds."
What a fool. Cows eat grass, not random food waste. THEY'RE NOT PIGS! Though I guess it is a step up from feeding them corn and soy like Americans do...

Silage and hay are fine, those are grass-based foods. It's primarily corn/soy/grain that bothers me.

To answer the question as to why it's important, well, eating animals that have been fed the correct diet can mean the difference between eating something that's tasty and nutritious and eating something which is bland and disease-causing.

I'm glad to hear most of our stuff is still grass-fed though, that is reassuring.



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  Reply # 1108471 14-Aug-2014 15:38
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Demeter:
Klathman: Palm Kernel isn't made from palm oil. Before they realised that cows could eat it and that they could use it in power stations they just dumped it. While the palm oil industry isn't great at least it no longer causing more pollution by also dumping massive amounts of waste.


Palm oil is made from palm kernel though :) I agree that at least it is not being dumped (which is awesome) and yay for recycling but yeah, feeding animals a non-ethical industry byproduct they wouldn't normally consume doesn't exactly instill confidence. :P


Palm oil is not made from palm kernel. The palm kernel is a waste byproduct, that wasn't just dumped but burnt. Doing something with it is a good thing.

Further to the undercurrents of this thread, I find it alarming some of the (farming) industry trends in NZ. Traditionally NZ farms had plenty of pasture for their herds. This was natural & sustainable.

Now I feel that there are certain players that are 'bad eggs' in the industry, placing profits importance far above the ongoing effects on our environment. Things like effluent runoff poisoning our waterways, and the way some of these alternative feeds are being used, not just to supplement difficult seasons, but 'permanently' subsidise the size of their herds beyond whet the land can naturally sustain. It's a worry alright, and shining a light on these dark aspects is probably a good and necessary thing for our continued bright future.

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  Reply # 1108544 14-Aug-2014 17:11
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Dairyxox:
Palm oil is not made from palm kernel. The palm kernel is a waste byproduct, that wasn't just dumped but burnt. Doing something with it is a good thing.


By my reference to palm oil, I mean any palm product (which includes palm kernel oil). And by no stretch of the imagination is it a good thing.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palm_kernel_oil







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