Here at Emma’s Dairy we believe that cows should have the freedom to roam, grazing our pastures and producing raw organic milk that is great tasting and healthy. Our cows produce a natural amount of milk and are not intensified in any way to produce more, that’s why our milk is rich in butterfat and protein.
We do not homogenise our milk but believe that in leaving a cream line you can enjoy simply put an un-tampered with natural product that is full of natures best, we offer raw organic milk and pasteurised cream and offer UK wide delivery, we hope you enjoy it…
The legalities regards Raw Drinking Milk are such that it may only be sold direct by the farm to the end user… if it is coming from anywhere else its not genuine and may not be licensed.
Not if it is properly licensed and inspected by the Food Standards Agency. Grass fed milk is generally healthier because milk from grass fed cows means the cow is not being fed proteins and sugars from concentrated feeds, a cow is a ruminant and grass (or hay in winter) is just what the cow needs to produce natural, great tasting milk. The key to safe raw organic milk is hygiene, in the parlour and around the cow, we take great care making sure your milk is as safe as possible and as natural as it can ever be. We test regularly for pathogens to build a picture of how safe the milk is over a period of time. We are regulated by the Food Standards Agency and we are required by law to put the following health warning on each bottle:
"This milk has not been heat treated and therefore may contain organisms harmful to health, The Food Standards Agency strongly advises that it should not be consumed by children, pregnant women, older people or those who are unwell or have chronic illness."
The cows here at Gazegill are organic Old English Dairy Shorthorns. They are smaller than most modern breeds of cows and alongside the Ayreshire breed Shorthorns would have formed the main breed kept in the UK 60 years ago. They take in less food and can thrive on low protein diets. This makes them perfect for an organic system. They are happy to graze over moor, pasture and meadow alike and do not need concentrated feeds to produce a healthy yield.
This can be anything between 3.5% - 5.25% depending on the time of year. Mid-winter on the dry hay feed the fat is high. Mid-August when they are on the lush ‘fog’ grass (new growth after they hay is cut) the fat is at its lowest but the protein is high making for a more balance intake of fats and proteins when we need them most.
The cows here have an average life span of 20 years but we have had cows at 23 in the past. This is unusual as the UK norm is 6 short years mainly due to the high yields and intensive lifestyle. This is also due to the fact they are on unnatural diets containing proteins and mollassed sugars . We do not push our cows and we don’t count the litres produced, we leave that bit up to our girls. We rather they have happy lives and a longer stress-free life so we get the extra milk in the long run!
We calve at 3. The normal age in the UK is 2 but they are still growing at this stage and it is not fair to put the extra stress of carrying a calf on them at that point, the body focusses on laying down placenta to the detriment of skeletal growth. This also helps to add to the long life of our cows.
This is up to the cow. Some are with their calf for 8 weeks after the birth. Some only 2 weeks, some come into the calf only at night as they want to spend their day grazing with the herd. Gates are opened if they want to get in to visit as we listen to our animals and want them to be happy.
They rarely don’t take to the calf and wont bond with it or feed it. If this happens our concern is getting colostrum into the calf at this point as this is vital to the calf’s health and development. At this point we step in and take over the care and spend time latching the calf onto a teat.
We do not leave the calf on the cow all of the time as this can increase a thing called somatic cell count as the teats are being suckled all of the time, there is also the potential for bacteria to enter the teat as the sphincter opens multiple times a day in an uncontrolled environment - in the parlour we use a post milking teat dip to seal the teat and prevent ingress of bacteria. Somatic cell count is the number of white blood cells that cling to the cream and the higher the count the indication is that the cows immune system is working and indicating a potentially poorly cow, for us though it indicates a cow has a healthy immune system which is not being masked by antibiotics.
The milking is done by Emma. Up until 2 years ago we managed 10 years without a day off at all. We now try to get away from the farm from time to time. At this point we do have a relief milker but they have been trained by Emma and fully understand the routine.
Emma understands each cow. If they are ill she might know before they do. This is important as we can react quickly to help them rather than wait and then have to intervene with medicines or antibiotics.
NO. We have been antibiotic free here for 8 years and are very proud of it! It took about 20 years of good breeding from our girls to be able to be free of problems with things like mastitis to achieve antibiotic free status. It also took confidence to let the cows grow immunity without interfering first. In the organic sector antibiotic use is permitted but it is reccommended to use less aggressive antibiotics and the withdrawal period must be doubled, any treatment must be reactive and not preventative.
We feel that there are many other options in the dairy herd that can be used before antibiotics. Our cows are free to roam the farm and find herbs and grasses and even different soils for minerals to eat, to them help self-medicate. We stand firm on antibiotic use as they are life savers and ought only ever to be used as such.
The only additional feed we use in the parlour is a Victorian blend. This is based with things we can easily grow in the UK. Peas, beans and pulses. No corn, soya or palm oil. These beans and peas we only feed in tiny amounts. One because it is expensive and two is because too much protein in their diet can cause things like bad feet and knees.
We feel that the hay/grass grown on the farm is the best thing for them to eat but a little bit of a treat in the parlour is always a good thing. We see it as fair trade!
As soon as we know that the spring nights are warm enough we then turn them out to pasture. They are handled and loved. We visit them every day. At times when the cows are walking to new grazing they pass the young stock and talk over the fence and rub noses. We feel this is important that they all still see each other and have that contact. We take some calves onto beef at about 3 years and some are 9-11 months and are free range rose veal. Sadly the UK dairy industry is still shortly after birth destroying100,000 calves every year as they have little or no commercial value, we find this practice abhorrent and rear everything born to our herd.