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Our beautiful milk

If you stop by the farm and pop into the cow-print shed, you can pick up a pint or two of our delicious unpasteurised cow’s milk. Fill your bottle from the UK’s first raw milk vending machine! The milk for sale in our shop comes exclusively from our own happy cows. You can see them about the place if it’s milking time, or as distant specks grazing on the beautiful Stow Fen, just behind the farm.

We hope you will notice the lovely thick cream line and distinctive flavour, and if it makes it as far as the fridge, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the shelf life too!

Good quality fresh milk is hard to come by in the UK. Most of the cows that produce milk for general public consumption are over-worked and stressed. This means unhappy animals and poor quality milk, but not on our farm. We aim to break the mould. We pride ourselves on really looking after our cows, and we think it shows in the quality and flavour of our raw milk. We’d love to hear what you think of it!

Better still, we have exciting changes afoot in the near future…take a look at the “Our Herd” section to find out what we’re up to!

We are also the UK representatives for DF Italia Milk Vending Machines.

As a side venture to our own farm, we are proud to be helping other dairy farmers around the UK to get a fair price for their milk. Are you a dairy farmer? Check out our Milk Vending website here to find out more about milk vending, raw milk sales and farm diversification.

Our herd

The very best raw milk comes from grass, hay and forage fed cows. This is our aim for the very near future. We’re rapidly changing our raw milk herd away from the industry led, high yielding, stressed out type, to a more peace loving, relaxed type of beast.

We are going back to basics. Our herd is fast becoming a pure bred herd of Montbeliarde cows. The Montbeliarde breed are happiest when dining on grass and home grown hay and forage. Their milk is naturally higher in proteins and butter fats, making it even more flavoursome, and giving even more health benefits when consumed raw. The Montbeliarde is an ancient breed of cow, from the Alpine regions of France. It hasn’t been overbred like the Holstein has been, which means that it has retained the beneficial A2 gene. Milk produced by cows with the A2 gene is thought to be more easily digestible to humans and raw A2 milk may even be consumed by some lactose intolerant people. We only breed our cows to bulls who carry the A2 gene.

Our farming style is low intensity and our cows are not under pressure to give unsustainable amounts of milk. Some our fellow farmers have called us crazy…that’s not the way things are done, your animals must produce more, more, more milk at all costs! But we believe that our future is in fat, happy grass-fed cows, the way nature intended them to live. And great milk.

Due to the wet nature of the marshland around the farm, there are certain months during the winter when it’s not possible for the cows to graze (they’d need boats!). Or sometimes it’s just so cold or dry that the grass doesn’t grow. During those short periods of the year, the girls are housed in deep straw barns, with plenty of fresh air and back scratchers for a good massage, whenever the need takes them.

If you have any questions about our herd and our farming values, please feel free to drop us a lineor take a ganders at our Myth Busters section, where we explain the real deal behind some popular farming myths.

 

Milk processing: When did my supermarket milk last see a cow?

Ever wondered what happens to your supermarket milk between the cow and your cereal bowl? Here’s an average month in the life of a litre of shop-bought milk:

Milking.

Cows are milked by the farmer.

Storage.

Milk is stored on the farm, for anything up to two days in a refrigerated tank.

Transportation.

Collected by tanker and taken to the processing plant, up to 150 miles away.

More storage.

Stored at the plant, for anything up to four days.

Pasteurisation.

Milk is forced through hot plates to heat it rapidly to a temperature of 75 degrees C. It is then forced through ice cold plates to cool it rapidly to 4 degrees C. This can kill off some harmful bacteria but also kills most of the good bacteria and lactase enzymes, making it indigestible to some people (aka lactose intolerance).

Standardisation.

All of the butterfat (cream) is removed and then a certain percentage is put back, to make either “whole milk”, “semi-skimmed” or “skimmed”. Any leftover cream (and there’s plenty!) Is used to make other products. You’re being swindled out of good cream!

Homogenisation.

Literally meaning ‘to make it homogenous’ or all exactly the same. Milk is shaken so hard, all the delicate fat molecules are smashed into tiny pieces until they are unable to rise to the top. This is why you never get that lovely line of cream on top of your milk anymore.

Packing.

Milk is packed in plastic cartons.

Distribution.

Milk is trucked all over the country, to shops and wholesalers. It’s crazy to think that the milk from our farm could travel hundreds of miles before ending up in Bungay shops, a lot older and more battered than when it left!

Shelf life.

We all know how long that is. Say another week. So by the time the milk ends up in your fridge, it could be anything up to two weeks old… Mmmmm, bon appetit!

Our milk is simply filtered, cooled and voila! It’s ready to drink. No heavy processing and no food miles. The milk from our vending machine is never more than 48hrs old. We hope you enjoy the difference!

 

 

Health Benefits

Well, we are a bit in love with raw milk and it’s many extraordinary health benefits. Not for nought has it earned it’s reputation as one of the world’s most powerful healing foods. Here are just a few interesting facts about raw milk:

– All mothers, including cows, provide natural enzymes in their milk. These enzymes act like a toolkit to enable infants, whose digestive systems are not yet fully developed, to absorb and utilise all of the nutrients available in the milk. Heat treatment destroys the greater proportion on these natural enzymes.

– Fresh raw milk contains a full range of B & C vitamins, which are very delicate creatures. They are easily killed off by heat treatment (pasteurisation) and they don’t stick around for long after milking. By the time milk is 7-10 days old, most of the B & C vitamins will have died of old age.

– The calcium in raw milk is fully soluble and digestible, however higher pasteurisation temperatures can cause the calcium to become insoluble, a bit like the scale on the element of a kettle. Once it has reached this state, the human body cannot absorb it and it becomes useless.

– In order to make use of calcium, your body needs soluble vitamin D. Whole raw milk is choc-full fat-soluble vitamin D but here’s the catch: it’s only soluble and digestible when there is plenty of raw milk-fat available for it to dissolve in. So in order to get the calcium and vitamin D from your milk, you need to drink it raw and full-fat. Skimmed milk contains hardly any vitamin D and therefore less calcium can be absorbed by the body.

– Another fat-soluble vitamin available abundantly in raw milk, is vitamin A. Like vitamin D however, if the fat in the milk is damaged or removed, the levels of vitamins drop to almost nothing. This can happen when milk is being carted around by tanker, collected from the dairy and delivered via multiple pumps and pipes to the processing plant. During all this upheaval, the milk becomes aerated and oxidation of the fats occurs. This can cause milk to taste “off” and also significantly reduces the amount of vitamins available in the milk. Milk drunk straight from the farm has not had excessive aeration and pumping. The fat soluble vitamins are conserved and the flavour remains fresh.

So in essence, drinking raw milk straight from the farm and as fresh from milking as you can possibly get it, will ensure you get the full compliment of vitamins, digestive enzymes and health benefits.

 

 

 

And The Risks?

We lab test our raw milk regularly and have recently been awarded a hygiene rating of 5 stars (the best) by our local Environmental Health team, however, we like to be as honest and open with you as possible.

As raw milk is a natural, untreated product, there are some risks associated with drinking it but it is important to bear in mind that providing you source your milk from a reputable farm with healthy grass-fed cows, the risk is small. In our opinion, you are far more likely to get sick from eating shellfish, packet salad, undercooked chicken, or countless other high risk food products that are readily available in the shops. I heard a quote from a dairy hygiene expert recently, saying that there are more bacteria on the average household dishcloth than in raw milk.

We believe that the health benefits of raw dairy products far outweigh the risks. We also believe in personal choice and access to information. If you search the internet, you will find yourself drowning in differing opinions (some very strong!) about the safety of raw milk. You’ll have to make your own mind up in the end but beware, much of the information you read online is likely to be wrong, or at least only half correct. Here’s why:

By their very nature, raw dairy products are infinitely complex. Milk is made up of many different elements, including live bacteria and enzymes, whose behaviour and state can be affected by so many variables, from the cow’s health, diet and breed, to the environmental factors and handling that the milk is subjected to once it leaves the cow. Simply changing/damaging any one of the components of raw milk can have a knock-on effect on the state and behaviour of the others. Often, several different factors can effect the milk at once, producing hard-to-predict changes in its minute composition.

To complicate matters further, milk changes. The milk you drink today will never be the same as the milk you drink tomorrow, even if it came from the same cow. Her body might be different tomorrow. She might be a little dehydrated if it’s hot and she can’t be bothered to get up and have a drink. Or maybe it will rain and she’ll decide she’d rather chill out under a tree than stand out in the wet and eat grass. The grass it’self might  be higher or lower in nutrients depending on the weather, time of year, the particular meadow and the farmer’s grass management skills. The cow will produce different milk depending on the stage of her pregnancy, or the length of time since she last calved. To confuse things further, any combination of these factors could be going on at once, producing an infinite number of possible outcomes in the structure of the milk. And that’s all before it even leaves the cow and becomes subject to external factors.

And cheese? Times all this by about a million and you’ll have a rough idea of the complexities of cheese.

So now you can see how many of the “facts” about milk that you read on the internet can be wrong. Many people try to over-simplify it by making sweeping statements about milk, which may well be correct on a certain day with a certain pint of milk from a certain cow, but may not be correct at all when applied to a different pint of milk. 

In essence, rather than worrying or relying on any “facts” you have heard about raw milk,  my advice would be to simply make sure that the milk you drink comes from a farm licensed to produce raw milk, that cares for their animals. Drink it as fresh and unprocessed as possible, for the best most delicious results!

 

To help you make  an informed decision about whether our milk is for you, here’s a summary of the main risks:

Who’s at risk?

If the raw milk you drink has high numbers of harmful bacteria in it, technically anyone could get sick from it, although the risk to a healthy adult is usually small.

Those who may be more at risk are:

– Pregnant women, especially if taking antacids, which dilute the stomach acid. Your stomach acid can help to kill off some small levels of harmful bacteria.

– Those with compromised immune systems, i.e. HIV positive or those who have been very ill.

– The very young or very elderly.

 

By law, we have to display the following wording in our Milk Shed for customers to see:

“This milk has not been heat treated and may therefore contain organisms harmful to health”.

Myth Busters!

Here we shed light on a few popular farming myths that we’ve heard circulating in recent years!

Myth 1:

Cows are fed/injected with growth hormones, which pass through into their milk and meat.

Answer: Never on our watch! This practice is illegal in the UK and fairly disgusting anyway.

Myth 2:

Cows are fed beef and/or other meat.

Answer: Yuck, no that’s cannibalism and also illegal. We promise our girls are strictly vegetarian. (Although we can’t promise they won’t gobble the odd passing small child…only kidding!)

Myth 3:

Milking cows are kept in small cubicles, in which they are not able to exercise.

Answer: Sadly, this does happen on some intensive dairy farms, mostly in America but sometimes in the UK too. Not on our farm though. Our girls will always have space to roam, whatever the weather.

Myth 4:

Male calves born on dairy farms are killed at birth as they are of no use for milking.

Answer: Tragically this does happen on some farms, although it is a rare practice nowadays. We never murder calves or kill an animal needlessly. All our male calves are reared for beef. They live a good life with acres of space to roam, grazing fresh grass and are not slaughtered until adulthood. When we do send animals for slaughter, they always go to our local slaughter house, to avoid undue amounts of travelling and stress for the animals and to keep food miles low.

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