A Cow’s Salad Bar

Ever wonder what the Hansen dairy cows eat to produce such great tasting milk and dairy products?

To keep our cows healthy and help them produce high quality, great-tasting milk, they are fed a meticulously calculated mixture of dried cracked corn, distiller’s grain, linseed meal, corn silage, alfalfa haylage and vitamins and minerals. Our cows have more balanced diets than most people!

Let’s take a closer look at these ingredients.

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  • Dried Cracked Corn:  These dried corn kernels broken into small, coarse pieces are high in carbohydrates and starch.

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  • Dry Distillers Grain:  As ethanol production uses only starch from the corn kernel, the remaining protein, fat, minerals, and vitamins make distillers grain. Instead of throwing the kernel away, the cows make use of the remaining nutritional value. It’s like eating the chicken after you’ve used its feathers to stuff your pillow!

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  • Linseed Meal:  A byproduct of extracting the oil from flaxseed, linseed meal is high in protein and fiber.

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  • Corn Silage: The entire corn plant – stalk, leaves, cob, and kernels – is chopped into small pieces, resulting in a feed that is loaded with fiber, thiamin and carbohydrates.

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  • Alfalfa Haylage: A grass crop that is cut and fermented, alfalfa haylage is a roughage material that provides protein, calcium and carbohydrates.

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  • Vitamins and Minerals: To round out the cow’s diet, they are given 1.5 lbs of vitamins and minerals including calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur and sodium bicarbonate.

Our Favorite Dairy Snacks – for June Dairy Month!

In honor of Dairy Month, we decided to show you a few of our favorite easy to make dairy snacks!

Smoothies: A great way to beat that nasty Iowa heat. Combine yogurt, milk, ice cubes and your favorite fruits and blend to make a tasty, refreshing treat! For an extra-thick smoothie with added calcium, include a spoonful of milk powder. For addition protein, toss in a spoonful of peanut butter with a banana and vanilla yogurt – yum yum!

Ice Pops: A great snack for kids on the go! Mix leftover smoothies from the above recipe or 100% fruit juice, yogurt and fruit like raspberries, strawberries or blueberries. Pour into ice cube trays and pop in the freezer for a sweet, frozen snack!

Parfaits: Parfaits are easily made by layering yogurt, fresh fruit and granola or chopped nuts. Looking for something a little different? Use cottage cheese in place of the yogurt!          Image (photo from blueprintforbeauty.com)

Mini Pizzas: A tasty, filling snack. Simply spread pizza sauce onto a whole grain English muffin and top with a small handful of shredded mozzarella cheese. For a heartier pizza, add lean hamburger, Canadian bacon and green peppers or mushrooms. Pop it in the oven for 3-5 minutes and enjoy your yummy, cheesy snack!

Fruit Pinwheels: Spread cream cheese and/or protein-packed peanut butter onto soft, whole grain tortillas. Add small pieces of fresh fruit, then roll and slice.

Quesadillas: Pack whole grain tortillas with shredded cheese, beans, corn, tomatoes and onions. You can also add cooked, cubed beef, pork or chicken. Heat in the microwave until cheese is melted. Serve with sour cream and salsa.                                                                                                                      Image (photo from babble.com)

Fruit Kebabs: Layer fruits like berries, melon and pineapple on a kebab stick. Serve with yogurt or a dip such as softened cream cheese with a touch of drizzled honey and a drop of vanilla.

Whole Grain Waffle Sticks: Transform messy whole grain waffles into an easy-to-eat handheld snack by slicing them into small rectangles. Serve with softened cream cheese and fruit spread.

For additional recipes and to learn more about dairy foods, dairy farms and healthy eating, check out these websites:

  • Midwestdairy.com
  • Dairyfarmingtoday.org
  • 3aday.org
  • Nutrientrichfoods.org

Leave your favorite dairy recipes in the comments below!

Test Your Knowledge of Hansen’s Dairy!

This month, Hudson’s 4th grade class visited Hansen’s Dairy for an educational field trip. To test their listening skills, we put together this 20-question quiz.

Have YOU visited the Hansen’s farm lately? Want to test your knowledge about Hansen’s Farm Fresh Dairy? Give the quiz below a shot!

Or, if you’re curious to learn more about Hansen’s Dairy and their products, call 319-939-2187 to schedule a tour of the farm and creamery!

Hansen’s Farm Fresh Dairy Quiz  

1)      How much water does a cow drink in a day?

1 gallon                 20 gallons            40 gallons

2)      About how much food does a cow eat in a day?

90 lbs                             120 lbs                  140 lbs

3)      What is a baby kangaroo called?

Joey                              Kid                          Bobby

4)      Do male kangaroos have pouches?

Yes                 No

5)      What’s in the silos?

Corn silage                  Milk                       Beans

6)      About how much does a full grown dairy cow weigh?

1,000 lbs                       1,400 lbs               2,000 lbs

7)      What breed of cows do the Hansens have?

Holsteins     Guernseys          Angus

8)      How many times a day do the Hansens milk their cows?

Once                             Twice                    3 Times

9)      Where did the original wallabies come from?

New Zealand                      France                  United States

10)   How many stomachs does a cow have?

One                               Two                       Four

11)   Are cows herbivores or carnivores?

Herbivores                  Carnivores

12)   How long is a cow’s gestation period?

4 months                     9 months             12 months

13)   About how many gallons of milk does a cow produce each day?

10 gallons                    20 gallons            30 gallons

14)   At what temperature does the milk come out of the cow?

80 degrees                  101 degrees       202 degrees

15)   How big are calves when they’re born?

40-60 lbs                      80-100 lbs            120-140 lbs

16)   What is a young female cow called?

Heifer                           Guilt                      Filly

17)   What do the Hansen’s do with their bull calves?

Sell them                     Milk them           Keep them as pets

18)   What does pasteurization do?

Adds flavor                                 Removes the fat              Kills bacteria

19)   Which dairy product do the Hansen’s NOT produce?

Butter                           Cheese Curds                    Yogurt

20) How many teats (“spigots”) does an udder have?

3                              4                              5

Answers:

1) 40 gallons           2) 90 pounds                    3) Joey                  4) No

5) Corn Silage          6)  1,400                       7) Holsteins             8) Twice

9) New Zealand           10) Four                       11) Herbivores           12) 9 months

13) 10 gallons          14) 101 degrees           15) 80-100 pounds        16) Heifer

17) Sell them           18) Kills bacteria             19) Yogurt            20) 4

A tribute to Daddy during June Dairy Month

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Daddy sharing his cows with Reese on his first Father’s Day. She’s a little scared in this photo but has really warmed up to them now.

Since today is Father’s Day, and June is National Dairy Month, I decided to share what makes my husband the best dairy daddy.

Blake loves showing our kids (Reese, 3, and Beckett, 1) all about being a farmer. Reese has already had a lot of hands-on experiences with cows and is discovering all the different aspects of raising them.

I love how he is instilling in our children (and his nieces and nephews) his love for animals. He is patient, caring, sensitive and kind, both in his work life and home life. He works hard until he gets the job done, then comes in and plays hard with the kids.

I love watching Blake be a dad. I would be proud if our kids grow up to be a farmer — or a parent — just like him.

Written by Jordan Hansen

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Reese feeding calves (and thinking the bottle is for her)

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Daddy lets Reese milk one of our most docile cows

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Part of doing chores means feeding the wallabies.

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Even inside the house, Reese enjoys looking at cows with Daddy.

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Beckett gets a closeup view of our 7-week premature calf Eyelash.

 

“Live as though you’ll die tomorrow, farm as if you’ll live forever” Sustainability at Hansen’s Farm Fresh Dairy

Dairy farmers work diligently to uphold their legacy as good environmental stewards, and the Hansens are no different. Taking care of the land makes healthy cows, and healthy cows produce high quality milk. Most importantly, sustainability makes the world healthier for future generations. Here at Hansen’s Dairy, we implement many sustainability practices to help keep the planet healthy.

1) Water – The Hansens are very conscious of how they use water. When the cows are milked, milk comes out of the udder at 101°. A cooling system uses water to chill the milk to about 60°. This process helps keep the milk fresh from the farm to your refrigerator. That water is then recycled and given to the cows to drink.

2) Manure/Fertilizer – For every 1,000 pounds a dairy cow weighs, she’ll produce about 80 lbs. of manure each day. With 300 Holstein cows on the farm, that adds up quickly. Manure is cleaned out of the barns twice a day and pushed down a pipe that runs to a manure pit behind the barn. This pit holds 1 million gallons of manure. The manure is emptied from the pit twice a year, recycled and used on crops that are grown as feed for the cows, bringing its use full-circle.  The Hansen’s high-tech equipment injects the manure directly into the soil, minimizing the odor, runoff and atmospheric losses while adding rich nutrients to the soil and replenishing its fertility.

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3) Crop Rotation – The Hansens implement crop rotation to help replenish nitrogen in the soil. Crop rotation is also an important part of insect and disease control. Because many insects prefer to eat specific crops, continuous growth of the same crop gives them a steady food supply, and the insects’ population increases. To avoid this, the Hansens plant a field with alfalfa hay for four years and then corn for the next two years.

4) Conservation – The Hansens till their fields minimally and use contour and waterway systems to minimize topsoil erosion. When fields are frequently tilled, the topsoil becomes light and loose and can blow away in the wind. Contour farming minimizes erosion by planting crops around a hill, following its elevation contour lines, rather than planting in rows straight up the hill. These rows slow water run-off during rainstorms to prevent soil erosion and allow the water time to settle into the soil. Waterways provide paths for rainwater runoff to escape the field without taking precious topsoil with it.

5) Corn Usage - When the Hansens make silage for their cows to eat, they chop up the entire corn plant: stalk, leaves, corn, cob and all. This ensures none of the corn plant goes to waste. When the Hansens do harvest just the corn kernels, the rest of the plant is chopped up to make cornstalk bedding for the cows.

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The crops the Hansens take from the land to make feed for their cattle returns to the land as fertilizer in the form of manure. Being good land stewards, the Hansens try to make sure everything taken from the land is replenished.

Twins – Twice the Fun!

Twins are very unusual in cattle, and if you’ve taken a tour of Hansen’s Dairy, you know that of the 200 calvings each year at Hansen’s, about five sets of twins will be born. Female twins born at Hansen’s will get matching names. For example, names of the female sets of twins on the farm have included Flip and Flop, French and Fry, Shoe and String, and Lois and Lane.

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But when a heifer and bull are twins, that heifer may be sold and raised for beef production instead of becoming a milking cow at Hansen’s Dairy. This is because 90% of the time that heifer will be sterile (unable to get pregnant). If she can’t get pregnant, she won’t be able to have a baby and produce milk.

When we tour guides tell our guests about this phenomenon, they often ask what causes this. After a little research, I found that these sterile heifers are called freemartins and that the heifer’s sterility is caused by blood vessels becoming interconnected between the heifer and bull. The blood then flows from one twin to the other, and male hormones like testosterone circulate and interfere with the heifer’s sexual development. The male hormones then masculinize the female twin, and the result is a sterile female.

Listed below are several interesting facts about freemartins.

· For the most part, the male twin is largely unaffected by sharing blood with his sister.

· Freemartins will have masculinized behavior and non-functioning ovaries.

· These heifers will behave and grow in a fashion similar to castrated male cattle (steers).

· It is very difficult to determine by palpation if the heifer will be fertile until she is about 6 months old.

· At any age, a simple blood test can be done to detect the presence of male Y-chromosomes in the white blood cells of the heifer to determine if she is sterile or not.

· In about 10 percent of different sex twins, no fusion of blood vessels takes place and the female remains fertile.

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· In fraternal twins, it’s possible to have two Holsteins with different colors. The photo shown is a Black & White Holstein with a Red carrier gene. She was bred to a Red & White bull and had a Black & White/Red & White twins.

· Freemartinism is the normal outcome of mixed-sex twins in all cattle species and also occurs in sheep, goats and pigs.

Blake Hansen: Cattle Ob-gyn

About 200 calves are born each year at Hansen’s Dairy, and Herd Manager Blake Hansen serves as a type of cattle ob-gyn for the expecting cows. While difficulties during labor are uncommon, difficult labors are very hard on the cows and can lead to diminished milking productivity and decreased fertility. For these reasons, Blake keeps a close eye on the cows near the end of their 9-month pregnancy.

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Though each cow is different, Blake will see several indications that a cow is close to labor. In the week before calving, her feed intake decreases and her udder will start to swell. Young heifer’s udders can start swelling as early as 1 month before labor. Several days before labor, the ligaments on the tail head cave in slowly, then drastically when labor is only hours away.

During the first stage of labor, the calf is being forced toward the birth canal and the cervix is beginning to dilate. Because of the dilation, the base of her tail may appear to have a kink in it. At this point, the cow will be moved inside the barn to the maternity pen so she can deliver her calf in a dry, clean space.

Shortly after, the water bag will appear from the vulva. It will resemble a small reddish-brown balloon filled with water, or the bag may burst inside her. When this bag breaks, the cow will feel a release of pressure and she’ll get up to investigate. If she makes no progress for a half-hour after the water bag has appeared or burst, Blake will help the cow with her delivery.

During the second stage of labor the contractions become strong and coordinated. They will come 3 to 5 minutes apart. The cow will often lie on her side begin to push. She will be visibly straining.

Within an hour after the water bag has appeared, two small white hooves should emerge from the vulva while still in the embryotic fluid bag. After a few minutes, the nose will follow, then the shoulders, body and hind legs. The cow will immediately stand and turn to clean the calf with her tongue.

80% of births are unassisted and calves will enter the birth canal correctly, with their front feet first and nose between their knees. But sometimes, the calves may have limbs twisted, be backwards (breech) or too large.

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The above picture, from Oregon State University Extension Service (http://ans.oregonstate.edu/sites/ans.oregonstate.edu/files/extension/cattle/CalvingSchool-theCalvingProcess.pdf), shows a calf entering the birth canal in the correct position.

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The above picture, from Oregon State University Extension Service (http://ans.oregonstate.edu/sites/ans.oregonstate.edu/files/extension/cattle/CalvingSchool-theCalvingProcess.pdf), shows a calf in the birth canal with its front leg pinned back. A cow with her calf in this position would require some assistance during labor.

backwardcalfThis picture, from Oregon State University Extension Service (http://ans.oregonstate.edu/sites/ans.oregonstate.edu/files/extension/cattle/CalvingSchool-theCalvingProcess.pdf), shows a calf in the backwards (breech) position. Blake must quickly deliver the calf before the cow is pushing too much, or it will be hard to reach in and grab the hind legs.

The third and final stage of labor is the passing of the afterbirth. The cow’s uterine contractions will continue in order to expel the remaining fetal membranes. This will last anywhere from 1 to 12 hours.

Some tour participants are lucky enough to witness a calf being born. It’s wonderful to see the miracle of life before your eyes!

Written by Kelby Robb

Making butter — a fun and tasty snack

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Hansen’s Farm Fresh Dairy makes butter on a much larger scale, but the process is essentially the same.

Making butter is a fun, easy experiment — it’s educational and delicious. Try this at home with your kids. No old-fashioned butter churn required!

This activity will yield just enough butter for a single piece of bread or several crackers. For larger amounts of butter, use more heavy whipping cream and a mixer to thicken the cream. As a bonus, you can also make your own buttermilk by following these directions.

To start, purchase a quart of heavy whipping cream from Hansen’s Farm Fresh Dairy.

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Hansen’s Dairy tour participants shake their jars of cream.

Pour 2 tablespoons of the heavy whipping cream into a small sealable container (preferably glass, like a baby food jar).

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The chunk of butter is clearly visible after draining the buttermilk.

Seal the container and shake it vigorously for 3-5 minutes. The cream will start sticking to the sides, but you’re not done yet. Suddenly, a chunk of light, fluffy butter will clearly separate from the watery buttermilk and you’ll be able to hear it start slapping around in the jar. Once you hit this point, it’s important to stop shaking the jar (don’t over shake). The cream turns to butter because of the agitation and the warmth of your hands.

The butter isn’t ready to eat quite yet. Drain the buttermilk (the excess liquid) from your container. Next, spoon up the butter left in your container and dip it into cool water to rinse the remaining buttermilk from the butter.

When the excess water is gone from the butter, sprinkle on a small amount of salt, or even some fresh herbs, and spread it onto your bread or crackers. Enjoy your homemade butter!

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Let us do the work — try a tub of Hansen’s Dairy butter!

To store leftovers, put the butter in a sealable container and refrigerate it.

Written by Kelby Robb, Hansen’s Dairy intern

Is dairy farming really one of the worst jobs in America?

CareerCast.com recently posted their annual listing for the 200 Worst Jobs in America for 2013. The rankings were based on five factors: physical demands, work environment, income, stress and hiring outlook. “Dairy farmer” was listed as No. 6. So what do the farmers at Hansen’s Farm Fresh Dairy have to say about that?

Blake Hansen feeds hay to the 3-month-old heifers.

Blake Hansen feeds hay to the 3-month-old heifers.

“If everyone loved their job as much as dairy farmers, there wouldn’t be such a list,” says Blake Hansen, herd manager.

Indeed. Working with cows can be very satisfying and rewarding, and a dairy farmer has to be completely committed to his craft in order to be successful. Like other self-employed people, their whole life revolves around their business. They do what they love to provide a nutritious food group to feed America. Their livelihood relies on those animals staying alive and healthy for years. If a farmer takes proactive steps to maintain the health of his cows, he maximizes his chances of success. If he takes care of the cows, they will take care of him.

Let’s address the factors that went into creating this worst job list.

Physical demands. Dairy farmers milk their cows at least twice a day, feed them three times a day, and care for them around the clock. They deal with inclement weather, delivering calves, heavy lifting and being on their feet all day. But Blake says the physical demands are nothing compared to the mental effort. Keeping track of the needs of 375 animals in different life stages is mentally taxing.

The 375 cows on the farm include Black and White Holsteins and Red and White Holsteins.

The 375 cows on the farm include Black and White Holsteins and Red and White Holsteins.

Work environment. OK, sometimes the smell is a little overwhelming. (You get used to it.) But who wouldn’t love the wide open spaces a farm provides? The steady supply of milk right outside your door? The opportunities for your kids to learn the value of family and hard work? Our small-scale farm (375 cows from newborn to 10 years old) allows us to get to know each cow by name and temperament. Blake knows who likes to be first in the milking parlor, who loves her tail rubbed and who is ready to calve. Imagine working with a group of girls with very unique, individual personalities, and not a catty one in the bunch!

Income. We’ll agree with this one. Many small dairy farms have had to sell out because of high input costs (feed and fuel) and low income (market prices for the milk). Twelve years ago our family took a financial risk by investing in facilities and equipment to bottle our own milk, and it has paid off in a big way. But we know it would be much harder for single-family farmers to put in that kind of time, money and effort. We are grateful to be able to support five families with the size farm we have.

Blake Hansen checks on a calf born just minutes earlier.

Blake Hansen checks on a calf born just minutes earlier.

Stress. Every job has its ups and downs. The death of an adult cow who you saw being born, trying to get fieldwork done ahead of the rain, working side by side with family members, and managing employees can all be stressful. There’s very little vacation time. But there is nothing like the feeling of seeing a cow nursing her newborn calf that you helped deliver overnight. The life cycle is renewed, and it’s wonderful to think about that calf’s potential down the road. Our oldest cow has produced enough milk in her lifetime to fill four semi-trailers. And she’s still going.

Hiring outlook. Land prices around here have skyrocketed, so if you don’t already have a farm in the family that will be passed down to you, getting into the business by yourself is financially tough. And with large operations streamlining milk production, jobs are harder to come by. But hey, if any of you are looking for a job in the dairy industry, we usually have something available!

Gallons of 1% milk are bottled in the Hansen's Farm Fresh Dairy creamery.

Gallons of 1% milk are bottled in the Hansen’s Farm Fresh Dairy creamery.

So, we would argue with dairy farming’s placement on the worst jobs list. The proof is bottled in a jug on your table with our name on it.

Raw milk vs. Pasteurized milk…

There is a global debate about raw milk happening. In several countries, including the U.S., there are serious conversations taking place about whether people should drink, and especially whether they should be able to purchase, raw milk. The point of this post is not to advocate for or against either side. The purpose is to provide you with information and to let you know our policies and why we have them.

Here is raw milk going through the pasteurizer in the Hansen creamery. Our milk is pasteurized at 165 degrees for 15 seconds.

Here is raw milk going through the pasteurizer in the Hansen creamery. Our milk is heated to a temperature of at least 161 degrees for 15 seconds.

First, a few definitions. Pasteurization involves heating milk (or any food or liquid) to a certain temperature and then immediately cooling it to slow the growth of microbes and bacteria. This keeps the product from going bad as quickly as it might otherwise. High temperature, short time (HTST) pasteurization, which is what we use at Hansen’s, kills 99.999% of viable micro-organisms in the milk (like yeasts, molds, bacteria, and pathogens). Just a reminder – although we DO pasteurize our milk, we do not homogenize it (shake that jug, folks!).

When people talk about “raw milk” they mean milk that has not been pasteurized or homogenized. Until the 1890s, everyone drank raw milk because pasteurization wasn’t common practice yet. Pasteurization became widely practiced after the development of germ theory and the discovery of bacteria. It was thought that some diseases common in cows were transmitted to humans in raw milk. Since not every farmer’s milk could be tested, it was considered safer to pasteurize all of the milk.

Some people believe that pasteurization damages nutrients in the milk (such as calcium) and kills “good” bacteria that are beneficial to the digestive tract and our immune systems. The argument for raw milk is that these good bacteria help maintain a healthy balance in our bodies and make our immune systems stronger.

Proponents of raw milk believe that if it has been “produced under sanitary and healthy conditions” it is safe and even healthy to drink (Campaign for Real Milk). An important point is that even people who advocate for raw milk believe that for it to be considered safe, the milk must come from cows that are “healthy (tested free of TB and undulant fever) and do not have any infections (such as mastitis).” Raw milk should come from cows fed grass, hay, silage, and only a little bit of grain; the cows should be milked in a clean area and the milk should be refrigerated right away.

There are three primary sources of contaminants in milk: from within the cow’s udder, from the outside of the udder, and from handling and storage equipment. Experts agree that if a cow is sick, there is bacteria in her milk. But in a healthy cow, the milk in her udder is virtually sterile. Even in healthy cows, some bacteria are present in different parts of the teats, and that bacteria can enter the milk. But it’s usually in very low levels in a healthy cow.

Why the debate? Well, you can see that raw milk has to come from pretty special cows and special farms. Most large scale, commercial dairy operations are not going to have the kind of conditions that were just described. Only 28 U.S. states allow the sale of raw milk. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration recommend not consuming raw milk. The CDC notes that 79% of disease outbreaks associated with dairy between 1998 and 2011 were due to raw milk or cheese.

Where do we stand at Hansen’s Farm Fresh Dairy? Well, first off, our cows are healthy and well-cared for. Our facilities are very clean. But we do not sell raw milk and we do not plan to sell raw milk. Most dairy farmers don’t want to put themselves at risk for liability. It’s also bad for the dairy industry as a whole, because if there was an outbreak of sick people, the media fallout would damage an industry that already has a shaky public perception. The problem is that it depends on the consumer to store and drink it safely. People can buy raw meat or eggs because the consumer can cook those foods properly to kill any bacteria. With raw milk, we don’t have safeguard. Unpredictable, unpreventable, uncontrollable things happen during milking time that can affect the bacteria content in the milk. For example: if the cow kicks off her machine, it becomes a vacuum cleaner for whatever is in the area. That’s why we drink pasteurized milk.

At Hansen’s Farm Fresh Dairy, we provide our customers with a high-quality product. Our cows are treated well and not given any hormones or antibiotics in their feed. We treat the milk as minimally as possible – very quick pasteurization and no homogenization – because we want it to be fresh, delicious, and healthy.

We don’t believe the health debate should be between pasteurized and raw milk. We believe it should be between pasteurization and homogenization. In other words, raw milk proponents blame pasteurization for everything. Maybe they should be blaming homogenization instead. Some people who claim to be lactose intolerant can drink our milk, and we think that’s because of the damage done to milk via homogenization. Read more about homogenization in our blog post about the topic.

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