Organic cattle that are fed a grass-based diet may produce less milk, but the milk is more natural. Cows that are raised on more conventional feed may produce more milk, but producing more milk can add stress on the cow and potentially affect its welfare. A cow’s digestive system is complex and designed to absorb nutrients from grass, dandelions, and clover – a healthier diet than conventional feed. The food administered to an organic herd cannot contain GMOs, urea, solvent, or animal by-products. Organic milk producers will employ the use of homeopathy and herbal remedies to treat ailing cows instead of the more traditional antibiotics. However, if the animal’s illness becomes severe, traditional antibiotics or drugs may be used to ease the animal’s suffering, and the cow will be separated from the organic herd. Organic herds must be outside and allowed to graze as much as possible. When the weather is not suitable, such as in the winter months, the herd must be housed in a covered structure and given clean, dry bedding. Moreover, calves have a tendency to naturally groom one another; therefore organic calves must be kept in social groups.
Health Benefits of Organic Milk
Milk that has been produced under organic standards does not contain any chemical contamination due to the fact that organic cows graze on pastures that are free from pesticides and artificial fertilizers. Compared to its counterpart, organic milk is said to contain more conjugated linoleic acid, which increases the body’s metabolic rate, muscle growth, and immunity to diseases. It also has two to three times higher concentration of anti-oxidants, such as lutein which aids in eye health, and zeaxanthin. Organically produced milk also possesses a higher vitamin content than conventionally produced milk, with higher concentrations of Vitamin A. The milk produced by organic cattle is 50% higher in Vitamin E, 75% higher in beta-carotene, and possesses 68% more of Omega 3 essential fatty acids.
Many organic milk producers do not homogenize their milk output, which allows the fat in the milk to rise to the top as cream. In homogenization, milk is put through strainers under immense pressure that causes solid fat particles to break apart, resulting in an even dispersion of fat through the milk. However, organic dairy farmers do employ the process of pasteurization which is a heating process that hinders the growth of bacteria.