This week was pretty slow & relaxed on the farm. Other than the daily chores and care of the animals, we didn’t tackle any large projects. Dan started his new job and we enjoyed a long weekend visiting with family for the Easter holiday. It was a much needed rest period for us before diving into several large projects this week including expanding our dairy parlor, building an indoor/outdoor farrowing area for the pigs and sourcing new equipment for the season.
Another project we’re planning for this season is for a micro-grant we received with Nourish Organic Market from Slow Food West Michigan. We will be raising a pair of heritage breed pigs on pasture with 100% non-GMO grain and food waste from Nourish Organic Market to bring awareness and exposure to issues of biodiversity, the humane treatment of animals, and the problem of food waste in the local food system. Slow Food is an organization committed to supporting high quality food that honors environmental sustainability, social justice and the local economy.
We will be documenting the project through social media photos & video and we will conclude with a nose-to-tail butchering event where participants can take home some of the meat and learn more about the process of raising the animals. More info to come as this progresses.
Below are the lab results for the raw milk from late March/early April. We will have more testing done at the end of this month when our new cow, Frieda, calves.
Even though the deadline has passed for the chicken pre-orders we do have a limited amount still available so please contact us ASAP if you’re interested in some pastured chicken.
We also are starting to have a limited number of pullet eggs for $2.00/dozen and full-size eggs for $4.00 per dozen. Please contact Whitney for availability with your weekly milk delivery or if you would like to have them set aside for on-farm pickup.
- Desired Range: less than 1,000 cfu/mL
- Our Result: 575
- What this is: an indicator of the level of bacteria capable of growing in an aerobic (exposed to oxygen) environment and a mesophilic temperature (medium range). Generally, an indication of how sanitary the equipment and general milking conditions are. Directly tells us the number of bacteria (beneficial or otherwise) living in a food product.
Total Coliform Count
- Desired Range: less than 50 cfu/mL
- Our Result: 11
- What this is: another indication of sanitation and the number of potential pathogens/bacterial colonies present in a food product. Looks more specifically at fecal contamination than equipment sanitation (like plate count does), which potentially creates a hospitable environment for strains of pathogens to flourish. In the State of Michigan, the limit for milk transported in bulk cooling tanks containing raw milk is 100 cfu/mL. Once the milk is pasteurized, the required coliform level is 10 cfu/mL. Our coliform levels, therefore, are actually cleaner than pasteurized milk from the store.
- Desired Range: less than 200,000 per mL
- Our Result: 22,200 per mL
- What this is: an indicator of white blood cell count, which shows if an infection is present in the cow (and thus the milk). Mostly, we’re concerned about mastitis, an infection in the udder, which is caused by a combination of poor health and poor hygiene in the cow, and the milking/living environment. Levels higher than 200,000 indicate the presence of a sub-clinical to clinical infection and SCC is the best indicator of overall milk quality – from its ability to keep fresh for longer periods of time, to how good & clean it tastes and how well it can be converted into other dairy products.
- Quick note: Our “desired range” comes from the State of Vermont’s Raw Milk guidelines for retail sales, which is the strictest in the country. In Michigan, SCC for Grade A fluid milk must be less than 1,000,000 per mL -levels this high guarantee that milk from cows with mastitis (and the accompanying pus & blood) is being used and is on shelves. Pasteurization will kill most of the bacteria and pathogens, and that dead sludge is then homogenized into the milk.