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How cows digest their food

Cows are pretty fantastic. They turn things that humans can’t digest like grass and hay into delicious and nutritious milk. How they do it is even more incredible. Cows have one stomach with four parts, all designed to break down grasses, hays and silages and digest proteins from grains.

The four parts

  • Rumen
  • Reticulum
  • Omasum
  • Abomasum
cow-stomach
The cow’s digestive track is very complex and allows cattle to digest foods high in cellulose such as grasses and hays.

Rumen – This part of the stomach is where the feed goes to first and it’s the largest part of the stomach system. The rumen has complex microorganisms that help break down plant fibers so the cow can use the nutrients. The rumen works with the reticulum to make sure fibrous feed is broken down. If the rumen becomes too acidic due to too much grain intake, cows can become very ill. This is why the majority of the cow’s diet comes from corn silage and haylage.

Reticulum – This compartment is attached to the rumen and acts as a storage area before passing feed to the omasum or for regurgitation. The softened feed that is regurgitated and mixed with saliva is called cud. The cud is regurgitated by the cow and chewed over and over again and then re-enters the rumen for more digesting. This process repeats itself until feed is broken down into smaller bits

Omasum – The omasum is where the water that is in the feed particles is absorbed. This is also where electrolytes like potassium and sodium are absorbed.

Abomasum – Here is where final digestion occurs. The abomasum is most similar to a human stomach and has a pH of about 2 to 3. Protein from both feedstuff and rumen microbes are digested here.

Cows at both of our dairies are fed a mixture of feedstuff called a TMR or total mixed ration. This includes haylage, corn silage, cottonseed and corn grain. These are all mixed together so every bite the cow takes is the same. This reduces the risk of health problems. Quality feed is what sustains health and milk production in cows.

Have cow questions? Feel free to email mara@sassycowcreamery.com.

Refuel with chocolate milk

You just crushed a workout. You feel parched and drained so you really need to refuel. What do you grab? A bottle of water? Some Gatorade? A protein shake? What about some low-fat chocolate milk? Chocolate milk may be the last thing you want to drink after working out but studies show that it’s one of the best recovery drinks available.

Chocolate milk contains a unique blend of carbohydrates, protein and electrolytes to replenish your body after a workout. And numerous athletes couldn’t agree more.

Calcium, potassium, sodium and magnesium are all electrolytes are added to sports recovery drinks that are found naturally in milk. These help keep fluids balanced in the body on a regular basis but helps restore fluid balance after a workout. And not to forget, milk is naturally hydrating because a portion of milk is comprised of water.

In addition to the electrolytes chocolate milk provides, it has a unique blend of carbohydrates and protein to replenish muscles. Chocolate milk has 8 grams of high quality protein to build lean muscle. Studies have shown that those who drink low-fat chocolate milk after a workout experience less muscle damage than those who just drink water or a sports drink. It’s suggested that these individuals may perform better in future workouts due to that enhanced muscle repair.

Looking to refuel after your workout? Our new low-fat chocolate milk is just the ticket! It contains less added sugar than most low-fat chocolate milks available. We use a unique combination of sugar and monk fruit juice concentrate for all the sweet flavor but fewer added sugars. Monk fruit juice is a zero calorie, all-natural sweetener derived from the monk fruit.

To learn more about refueling with chocolate milk, visit Built with Chocolate Milk.

Adults should be drinking milk, too

Milk is recommended for growing children but as adults we generally start reaching for other drinks like coffee, tea or juice and leave milk in the fridge for the kids. Milk contains three out of four nutrients that many Americans don’t get enough of in their diet: calcium, potassium and vitamin D. Adults still should be consuming milk daily for a variety of reasons.

  1. Calcium and Vitamin D: While calcium intake is especially important during growing years, bones are constantly being broken down and built up. To rebuild, bones need calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D as well as physical activity. Bone production outpaces destruction up until about age 30, after that destruction typically exceeds production. This means young adults should be consuming foods with adequate calcium and vitamin D. Milk contains 30 percent of daily calcium requirements and 25 percent of vitamin D requirements. Both work well together in building strong bones. Numerous recent studies have linked vitamin D in reducing the risk of some diseases, easing depression and regulating mood and aiding in weight loss.
  2. Potassium: When most people think of potassium, they think of bananas. But did you know a single serving of milk contains about 10 percent of your daily potassium needs? Potassium is an electrolyte so it aids in keeping the fluids in the body balanced. It also plays a role in maintaining normal blood pressure.
  3. Protein: It’s recommended that adults consume 25 to 30 grams of protein at each meal with breakfast being the most important. Adding a serving of milk to breakfast, which usually tends to be carbohydrate heavy, is an easy and delicious way to add 8 grams of protein. Milk protein is also considered to be a complete protein, meaning is has a full blend of amino acids our bodies require.

Other important vitamins and minerals found in milk are vitamin B12, riboflavin and vitamin A.

For more information on nutrients in milk, check out MilkLife. Do you have future blog post ideas? Please send to mara@sassycowcreamery.com.
Note: This blog post is not intended for those who are lactose-intolerant or have a milk allergy. We do not recommend consuming milk if you have these conditions.

Why kids should be drinking milk

Moms want to give their children the best start to a healthy life with nutrient-rich, quality foods. For years, pediatricians have been recommending milk for children since milk is rich in the nutrients a growing body needs. The majority of children in the U.S. do not drink enough milk. This means these children are missing out on many key nutrients found in milk needed for brain, muscle and bone development.

Milk has powerful nutrients for a strong body

We all know milk contains calcium and vitamin D, all which play a role in the development of strong bones. Milk is the number one food source for calcium and vitamin D in children’s diets. While genetics does play a substantial role in adult bone mass, lifestyle choice such as diet and amount of physical activity can amount to 20 to 40 percent of complete bone mass. Even though early childhood is a crucial time for milk consumption, adolescents still require milk since this is a time in their lives when rapid bone mineral formation is occurring.

In addition to calcium, milk also contains protein, vitamin A, vitamin B12 and potassium, all important nutrients for growing bodies. Milk is very easy to incorporate at meals, simply add an 8-ounce serving.

When compared to other milks such as plant-based milks like almond, soy or rice milk, dairy milk as more bang for the buck. These “milks” are often fortified with vitamins A and D just like dairy milk, they contain less fat and protein, both nutrients children need. These “milks” also contain added sugar where white milk does not, just the lactose naturally found in milk. Plant-based milks are normally very processed, whereas milk is only pasteurized and homogenized with just three ingredients: milk, vitamin A (in 2%, 1% and skim milks) and vitamin D.

What kind and how much milk should your kid be drinking?

Whole milk can be added to children’s diets after one year of age. Up until that point the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends infants stay on breast milk or formula. Whole milk is best for this age because of fat content that helps brain and nerve growth. Around two years of age, toddler’s can be switched over to reduced-fat or low-fat milk. Work with your pediatrician to know what’s best for your child. A general serving recommendation for milk based on age group is as follows:

  •    2-8 years old: 2 cups of milk each day
  •    9-18 years old: 3 cups of milk each day

Milk has played a big role in keeping children healthy and growing for many years. Get your children off to a great start with milk.

For more information on nutrients in milk, visit MilkLife. Do you have future blog post ideas? Please send to mara@sassycowcreamery.com.

Note: This blog post is not intended for those who are lactose-intolerant or have a milk allergy. We do not recommend consuming milk if you have these conditions.

Know your milk terms part 3: Vitamins and minerals

Milk is known for calcium and vitamin D but a glass of milk contains many more vitamins and minerals that are essential for good health. Vitamins and minerals play a large role in key body functions. Milk is packed with the vitamins and minerals that keep help keep these functions running in tip-top shape.

Vitamins

Milk contains both water soluble and fat soluble vitamins. These water soluble vitamins include thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B12, vitamin C, niacin and folate. Milk is a good source of thiamin, riboflavin and vitamin B12. Thiamin is helps convert carbohydrates into energy. Riboflavin works with other B vitamins and is important to red blood cell production and body growth. Vitamin B12 is plays a key role in brain and nervous system function. The amount of niacin in milk is relatively smallWhile milk does contain the other vitamins listed above, it is not considered a major source of these vitamins in the diet since milk contains small amount of each.

In addition to water soluble vitamins, milk is a good source of vitamin D and vitamin A. It does contain vitamins E and K but in relatively small amounts. All milk is fortified with vitamin D. Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption. Milk also contains Vitamin A but reduced fat (2% milk), low-fat (1% milk) and skim milk must be fortified with Vitamin A to be reach the Vitamin A content of whole milk. Vitamins A is needed for growth and development, immune system support and good vision.

Minerals

We all know milk to be a good source of calcium but milk contains other minerals too. Milk is a good source of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, and zinc. Calcium and phosphorus are the two major minerals in milk and are responsible for bone growth and maintenance. Other minerals like zinc and selenium help with immune system function while potassium helps nerves and muscles run correctly as well as fluid balance.

Summer on Our Farms

Summer is always a busy time on the farm. There’s hay to be made, events hosted, all on top of every day chores. Here are some pictures of what’s been going on at our dairies.

Sassy Cow Cow Friends
Our cows are enjoying the pasture life.
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We have new babies born everyday. This sweet girl is a Brown Swiss.
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With the recent warm weather, the corn has really grown!

 

Sassy Cow in new barn
Our dry cows at our organic farm are enjoying their new barn.
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Hay is made about three times per year on both farms. This cropped hay will become cow food for the upcoming year.
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This is the tractor we use to cut the hay.
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Some dry cows at our traditional dairy hang out in the shade on the first day of summer.

Interested in coming to visit? Contact Mara at 608-837-7766 or mara@sassycowcreamery.com.

 

12 Fun Cow Facts for June Dairy Month

Happy June Dairy Month! Around here, June is one of our favorite months because the weather starts getting nice, we host events and we get to celebrate a whole month devoted to dairy!

To kick off June Dairy Month, here are 12 fun cow facts you may not have known.

  1. Cows are social animals and naturally form herds. Within the herd they have friends as well as cows they avoid.
  2. Cows have one stomach with four digestive compartments: the rumen, reticulum, omasum and abomasum.
  3. The average cow drinks about 30 gallons of water per day.
  4. A cow’s heart beats between 60 and 70 beats per minute.
  5. An average dairy cow weighs about 1,200 pounds. But their weight and size will vary with breed.
  6. There are six main breeds of dairy cows: Ayrshire, Brown Swiss, Guernsey, Holstein, Jersey and Milking Shorthorn.
  7. Most dairy animals have their first calf when they are 2 years old; this is when they start producing milk.
  8. Just like people, cows are pregnant for 9 months.
  9. When a calf is born, it can weigh 80-120 pounds. The average Holstein calf is about 100 pounds at birth.
  10. Cows have a great sense of smell and can detect scent from roughly 6 miles away.
  11. The average cow will eat about 100 pounds of feed per day.
  12. Cows have 32 teeth, 8 incisors on the bottom front and then 6 molars on the top and bottom. Cows have no top front teeth.

Keep an eye on our Facebook page for more cow facts as the month of June progresses.

Dairy Goodness: The differences between whole, 2%, 1% and skim milk

What type of milk do you drink? Is it whole, 2 percent, 1 percent or skim? Some prefer 1 percent or skim because of the texture while others drink whole milk for the extra energy from fat. We each have different reasons why we choose the milk we do. Some of it is nutrition-based while the some reasons are flavor based. Below are the main differences between all fat levels in milk.

All milk is a good source of vitamins and minerals as well as protein. Across the board, each milk contains 8 grams of protein for serving and 13 grams of carbohydrates, 12 of which come from natural milk sugar lactose.

Whole Milk

Whole milk is noted by it red labels and caps. It’s also referred to as Vitamin D milk. Vitamin D is added to all milk to help with the absorption of calcium and phosphorus in the bones and teeth. Whole milk has 8 grams of total fat with 5 grams being saturated fat. New research points toward advantages in consuming full fat dairy for some people. In some, the consumption of full fat dairy reduced the risk for obesity and diabetes. Researchers are still trying to figure out the why behind this. Some people just prefer whole milk because of the consistency and flavor.

Nutrition facts

Fat: 8 grams

Cholesterol: 35 mg

Protein: 8 grams

Carbohydrates: 13g, sugar, 12 g

Calcium: 30%

Vitamin D: 25%

Vitamin A: 10%

 

2% Milk

Two percent milk is probably the most common milk consumed in the U.S. Two percent is known as reduced-fat milk because some of the fat is skimmed out. Two percent is named after its milk fat percentage. Whole milk is generally has a 3.5 to 4 percent butterfat content. Since 2 percent has some fat skimmed out, it now has a 2 percent fat content. Fat content over all is just 3 grams less than that of whole milk giving two percent a total fat of 5 grams with 3 grams of saturated fat.

Nutrition facts

Fat: 5 grams

Cholesterol: 20 mg

Protein: 3 grams

Carbohydrates: 13g, sugar, 12 g

Calcium: 30%

Vitamin D: 25%

Vitamin A: 10%

 

1% Milk

Known as low-fat milk, 1 percent is the next fat level as we move down the line. With half the amount of fat of 2 percent, 1 percent milk has 2.5 grams of total fat and 1.5 grams of saturated fat. This type of milk is most commonly served in schools and is used in the making of chocolate milk for both grocery and schools.

Nutrition facts

Fat: 2.5 grams

Cholesterol: 15 mg

Protein: 3 grams

Carbohydrates: 13g, sugar, 12 g

Calcium: 30%

Vitamin D: 25%

Vitamin A: 10%

 

Skim Milk                                             

Skim milk is non-fat milk containing 0 grams of fat. The fat (cream) that is skimmed off from this milk as well as 1 and 2 percent are used here to make ice cream. Skim milk is a great choice for those with dietary restrictions or those who prefer a less rich consistency.

Nutritional Facts

Fat: 0 grams

Cholesterol: 0 mg

Protein: 3 grams

Carbohydrates: 13g, sugar, 12 g

Calcium: 30%

Vitamin D: 25%

Vitamin A: 10%

At the end of the day, there’s no wrong choice when it comes to the milk you buy! You need to decide which fat level works best for you and your family. Whether you need the extra fat from whole milk, or get fats from other places in your diet, milk is always a healthy staple in your diet.

 

Have questions about our milk? Feel free to give us a call at 608-837-7766.

How we care for calves: Our traditional farm

Birth is one of the most exciting times on the dairy. It’s also one of the most critical. Like newborn human babies, calves are more susceptible to diseases, require first milk (colostrum) and need extra care. Each of our farms takes special precautions and care with all calves, from birth to weaning.

In this post we will discuss how the traditional farm cares for calves from birth until they are weaned. Jenny Baerwolf cares for all of the calves on the traditional farm.

What happens after a cow has the baby?

Jenny: After calving, the cow and calf stay in the newborn pen until the cow leaves to get milked.  The calf is then taken to the calf barn. In the winter, calves are placed immediately into the warming hut and in the summer they are taken to a clean, new pen in the calf barn.

Maternity pen
Our calves are born in the maternity pen. This is similar to the floor at a hospital where babies are born.

What are the babies fed?

Jenny: Each calf is given 1 gallon of its mother’s colostrum at birth. If mom doesn’t give a gallon we use a colostrum replacer. We then skip the next feeding. Our calves are fed milk replacer and are fed twice a day, at 5 a.m. and 5 p.m., 365 days a year. They drink a 1/2 gallon of milk replacer at each meal and they always have clean, fresh water available. At 10 days of age I introduce grain, they are also trained to drink their milk out of a pail.

Another aspect to raising healthy calves is consistency, consistency. Cows are like big cats, they are creatures of habit. Calves like to be fed at the same time everyday, with the same amount of milk and at the same temperature of 104 degrees.

calf barn
This is our calf barn. The panels that separate the calves make it so calves aren’t in one big group but babies can still socialize with one another. Notice that these calves are wearing jackets. This picture was taken during winter time when calves need extra warmth.

How do you keep calves comfortable?

Jenny: I strongly believe having fresh, clean water available to my calves at ALL times is one of the secrets to raising strong, healthy calves. Also, we use lots of straw for bedding. The babies like to snuggle up in the straw and sleep. It is very important to keep the calf’s hair coat dry and clean. It keeps them insulated.

calf
This calf is snuggled into her straw. Straw is the best kind of bedding for calves because it keeps them dry and warm.

When are the calves weaned?

Jenny: Typically, I wean at 6 to 8 weeks of age. The calves are are moved to a group pen; we have three weaning pens. Their pen is a large open area with two feeders, a hayrack ( they get hay for the first time at weaning) and a water tank.

Calves are very demanding! They are born on our farm 24/7, 365 days a year, there are a lot of them and they very challenging to raise, but I LOVE THEM! They are the future of our farm, now who wouldn’t want to invest in that!

swiss eating
This Brown Swiss calf is munching away on her calf grain, which is a mixture of corn, pelleted grains and molasses.

Stay tuned to learn about how we care for our calves on our organic farm.

Have questions about how our calves are raised? Feel free to contact us at 608-837-7766 or mara@sassycowcreamery.com.

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