Written by Eliena Bodtke, Chair, PDCA Dairy Committee
Grass Finished Beef and Milk can Positively Influence Your Health
My husband Rick and I started our Journey with Dexters ten years ago. He studied the breed and felt it was the best fit for what we wanted to do, which was control our food sources.
I was born and raised in Canada. When I moved to the states, I began experiencing food allergy symptoms. After much research and avoiding certain meats and other foods, we concluded much of my problem was linked to what animals in the U.S. are being fed. Things I could eat in Canada, I could no longer tolerate in the states.
We started raising Dexter cattle for beef and milk. Keeping with our plan to control our food we also added goats, pigs, broiler chickens and ducks. It became obvious my food allergy and asthma issues were not with the meat or milk, but with what we were feeding our animals in the U.S. that was causing my problems. In the beginning we kept our animals on pasture and supplemented with non GMO grain. When we cut out the grain, my symptoms continued to improve and eventually my asthma disappeared.
My focus is Dexter milk. We love our grass finished Dexter beef but we consume a lot more Dexter milk and dairy products I make from the milk. These include yogurt, Kefir and several kinds of cheeses. In the beginning, our milking Dexter cows were given non GMO grain. This kept them friendly and easy to lead into the milking stall. After some trial and error, we found the same behavioral results could be achieved with alfalfa so we cut the grain from their diet. Today, our milkers get nothing but pasture, hay and alfalfa. Keeping condition on a milking Dexter has never been a problem for us with this diet.
When we eliminated grain, we also added a new market for our milk and milk products. People who were looking for milk and milk products from grass fed cows sought us out.
In a book I am currently reading called “Mastering Artisan Cheese Making” by Gianaclis Caldwell, I came across an interesting passage I want to share….
“There is much discussion and controversy over the inclusion of animal fats in the human diet and their relationship to general health. It is erroneous to conclude that all animal fat is equal: the diet of the animal can alter the balance of fatty acids in both meat and milk. Take for example, the documented benefits of one particular fatty acid, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which is produced by ruminants and is present to a greater degree when animals are fed a more natural diet of pasture. CLA is proven to have anti carcinogenic properties and also positively influences weight control.”
From my own experience with food allergy and asthma issues, I can attest to the fact the meat and milk we consume from pastured and grass finished animals has eliminated those problems for me. It is becoming more evident every day that meat and milk produced with a diet of quality grass and hay produces healthier and more nutritious foods. If you milk, I encourage you to consider a more natural diet for your Dexters. I’m sure glad we did!