Written By: Ellie Wilson, MS, RD Senior Nutritionist, Price Chopper Supermarkets
Local Dairy of Distinction
Tucked way back (I mean way, way back)in the Taconic mountain range above Berlin, NY, is Mapledale Farm. Located on Greenes Brook Rd, the Green family have been dairy farmers here for 6 generations. We met John Green and three of his children on May 27th, who shared their passion for dairy farming with me and showed us how they care for their cows, their land and their milking operation to meet their own ever higher standards, as well as all of the standards put in place by their processing partner, Garelick Farms/Dean Foods, and the myriad of regulations that govern dairy production.
This farm has 445 milking cows, and 365 young stock, which are not yet being milked. On average, Peter and their family and staff (about 20 people altogether) milk about 400 cows per day – twice per day, every day, Christmas Day, bad weather day – no breaks. It takes them 6 hours for each round of milking.
It was a pretty warm, windy, dry day – and that is important, because if cows get too warm, they don’t produce milk very well. Huge fans were running across the entire barn, and may even run in winter, as the cows collective body heat warms up the barns. Cows can also get sunburn, so the farmers may keep them inside to protect them on hot, sunny days. These cows are in an open stall barn, which allows them to move around, eat when they want, drink when they want and lay down when they want. That is also key – cows only make milk when they lay down! (So much for the old myth about rain coming when they are laying down –now we know what is really going on!) They are also grass-fed and roam pastures – the hills around the farm were dotted with groups of cows, and the farm has to move the cows through a series of fields to allow grass to grow back.
Mapledale grows much of the forage and food for the cows – grass, alfalfa and corn silage is the base of the cow’s diet, but they also get soy meal, citrus pulp, and cottonseed. In fact, the cows have their own nutritionist! I met Bill Badgley, who helps dairy farmers feed their cows so well, they have strong immune systems and good health, which protects the cow and enhances the flavor and quality of the milk. They also have their own doctor, large animal veterinarian Carie Telgen, who shared that the goal of feeding is for each mouthful to be a complete meal for the cow. They know they are doing a good job in part because their processing partner, Garelick Farms, can evaluate the milk and let them know how they are doing with nutrition and flavor quality. John Green shared this is a key part of making sure his cows are getting the best care he can give them.
Check back on the blog for the rest of the Mapledale Farm story – quality is built into every step of their work for the great milk on your table.