Conventional dairy farms tend to feed and manage the cows in an attempt to push them into production levels beyond their natural capacity. These unnatural and intensive regimes such as feeding high levels of inappropriate protein to stimulate rapid growth or milk production, intensive housing or the routine use of antibiotics and other drugs can all cause stress to the animals and cause health breakdowns.
Organic and non-organic dairy farms bear little resemblance to each other. On an organic dairy farm will be found:
- No GMOs in feed
- No case of BSE ever found in an organic born and raised dairy cow
- No use of antibiotics unless cows are ill and other treatments are not achieving results
- No use of artificial insecticides on pastures where organic cows graze
- No use of artificial herbicides on pastures where organic cows graze
- No use of artificial fungicides on pastures where organic cows graze
- No use of solvents to produce organic cattle feed
- No housing of organic dairy cows all year round
- No housing of organic calves in single pens where they cannot see or touch other cows.
Differences in the milk
The milk from any mammal is an ideal environmental indicator for registering the level of pollutants and pesticides in the environment. Cow’s milk is no different. The reason is that what goes into the cow’s mouth gets processed into milk, and if it’s on the grass or grain it will end up in the milk. This is a sobering thought.
Milk is a major part of many people’s diet in the form of butter, cheese, yoghurt, milk and ice cream. Many people are becoming concerned with the quality of this staple foodstuff.
Milk from organic and non-organic dairies varies considerably, with organic milk being far superior.
All milk contains Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), which is believed to boost immune function and reduce the growth of tumours. CLA levels are thought to be higher in organic milk because these cows eat greater amounts of grass, hay and silage.
What goes in, comes out!
Organic dairy farms do not use artificial chemical pesticides (insecticides, fungicides, rodenticides, or herbicides) on pastures where cows graze. This is in contrast to conventional dairy farming which uses approximately 500 pesticides.
One of the problems with the pesticides, apart from their individual toxicity, is that almost no research has been carried out on how these chemicals react when combined ie the cocktail effect.
“The amazingly successful and expensive advertising campaigns of the dairy industry not only got our mothers to feed us formula instead of breast milk, but seem to have convinced us that it is “natural” for people to drink cows’ milk. Nothing could be less natural. No species drinks milk beyond infancy and none consumes the milk of other species.”
–Neal Barnard, M.D.
Children are particularly susceptible to pesticide residues – they have a higher intake of food per unit of body weight than adults, have immature organ systems, and may have limited ability to detoxify these chemicals.
Prior to the deregulation of the dairy industry in Australia, conventional dairy cows were given antibiotics routinely to prevent disease and infection that results from non-organic farming practices. Since deregulation, the standards are stricter but antibiotic use is still too prevalent. In contrast, organic cows are only given antibiotics when they are ill, and even then, only after natural remedies have not achieved the desired results. If an organic cow needs to be treated with antibiotics then the ‘withdrawal period’ is considerably longer than that recommended for conventional farming.
GMOs & Solvents
The feed for organic dairy cows is free from GMOs and solvent extracts and urea, resulting in milk that is free from these substances.
Conventional dairy farming routinely uses fertility hormones to control when cows come into heat, to ensure that calves are conceived and born within defined management periods and also to synchronise batches of cows or heifers to calve around the same time. On an organic farm the use of fertility hormones is rare and are only used on an individual therapeutic basis.