More and more, consumers see phrases like cage-free eggs, organic vegetables or ethical dairy. We know it sounds like it should be a positive thing, but many of us do not actually know what ethical dairy means. Farmer Joe’s knows what it means because we use an ethical dairy.
Regular Farm Practices
In many standard dairy farms, cows are constantly cycled through pregnancy, birth and milking to ensure peak production value. They spend large amounts of time on concrete floors being moved through the production process. At farms like these, calves are separated from their mother within days, sometimes even hours after their birth. The calves are then fed a milk replacement formula until they are ready to graze and feed themselves.
Ethical Dairy Farm Practices
Although there are no specific guidelines that are enforced across the dairy farming industry, there are some practices that are generally considered to be ethical practices.
Foremost of these is changing the standard practice of removing the calves within days or hours of birth and switching them to a powdered replacement formula. Instead, calves are left with the mother for approximately five to seven months before they are weaned.
In addition to keeping the calves with their mothers, ethical dairy farms also put a lot of consideration into the diet of their milk-producing cows. The diet not only affects the health of the cow but also affects the quality of the milk being produced.
Why Choose Ethical Dairy Farming Practices
Standard farm practices are followed to increase productivity and increase the profit margin for the farm. If the cow is giving her milk to her calf, the farm is not collecting as much milk to sell. So why would a farmer choose to employ ethical farming practices if it could affect his profitability?
Farmers who employ ethical dairy farming practices point to some benefits of the methods. First, the calves tend to grow quicker if they are being fed by their mother rather than a milk substitute. In addition, some studies have indicated that there is a reduction in the calves’ mortality rates. It can also help protect the cows from a disease called mastitis.
Physical benefits are one reason, but other cited reasons focus on the mental health of the cows. Many people do not know that cows are emotionally complex animals. Some studies have concluded that cows form close friendships and experience anxiety when separated from each other. One study indicated that early separation can cause socialization issues later in life.
Ethical dairy farmers say that you can see the difference in the milk. Milk from farms employing ethical methods, including improvements to diets, living conditions and socialization, tends to be of a higher quality. Some farms have seen a drastic reduction in the need for antibiotic and agrochemical use.
We Support Ethical Dairy Farms
Farmer Joe’s is a partner with Dakin Dairy, a family-run dairy farm from right here in Southwest Florida. We’re proud to sell their fresh, ethical dairy products from their farm in our store.
Dakin Dairy uses many sustainable methods to not only produce a great product but to protect our Florida ecosystem. Their cows are fed a diet of high-protein grasses that do not use harmful chemicals or pesticides. That means those chemicals aren’t going into your family either. These practices lead to happy and healthy cows that provide you with the best milk and dairy products possible.
Come by Farmer Joe’s and check out our dairy section. Experience the quality of ethical dairy products for yourself. We think you will be pleased.