Dairy pic

A VISIT TO ‘SIMPLY NATURAL’ DAIRY AND CREAMERY BY JOSEPH THOMAS

Editor’s Note

Milk is an essential part of human diet. It has been so, since times immemorial. Our ancestors around the globe, learnt to domesticate milk yielding animals and they became part of their families. As far as I know, every house had a few cows and buffaloes, and therefore, ‘dairy farming’ was not an exclusive business. Until as late as just fifty years ago, my parents were the proud owners of two buffaloes. The houses allotted to army officers were large enough for that purpose, and they even had enough land for their Pasture. And then, things changed. The process of breeding the animals and their health care became specialized and machines were invented to reduce human effort. The milk that is now produced, is pasteurised and processed and our grand children who have never seen animal being ‘milked’ believe that it comes in cartons and plastic packets!

Wg Cdr Joseph Thomas got an opportunity to visit a Dairy in the USA,  and he has sent in the following report.

*

 

  A  VISIT  TO   “SIMPLY  NATURAL”  DAIRY AND  CREAMERY

by

J  Thomas

 

 picture 1

My grandfather and earlier generations were farmers.  You could say that farming is in my blood.  So when I got a chance  to see a dairy farm and creamery in North Carolina, off I went.

 

“Simply Natural” is a dairy farm that pasteurises and bottles its milk and makes its own cream, butter and 35 flavours of ice cream.   Refrigerated trucks deliver  the finished products to the neighbouring towns  in eastern North Carolina.  They have a retail shop. And guided tours too.

 

 tourguide

Our friendly  tour guide.

 

 

The owners are the Moye brothers, Neil and David.  Their wives and children are fully  involved in the daily operation of the farm and dairy.

 

Right from the beginning, the dairy has kept only Jersey cows.  Other breeds, such as Holstein, produce more milk  but Jerseys produce higher quality milk with higher protein, calcium and butterfat.   Jerseys are also more docile, an important consideration with children roaming around.

 

 trailer

We were herded into a trailer  with wooden bench seats.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 field for cows

The field reserved  for  pregnant  cows.

 The family farms  3700 acres (owned plus leased).   The cows are not confined on concrete all day.   The cows  roam, graze and lounge in the farm.  The tour guide repeatedly emphasized that their “girls” are happy and, therefore, produce good quality milk.

 

 silege bundles

Silage  bundles tightly packed in bundles  undergo fermentation.

These silage bundles was something new for me.  Silage turns out to be fermented, high-moisture stored fodder which can be fed to cattle and  sheep. It is usually made from grass crops, using the entire green plant (not just the grain).  The farm  grows corn and makes it into silage for their own use.

 

 tractor roling

Tractor rolling a silage heap or “clamp” in Victoria, Australia (Photo: Wikipedia)

 

 

Silage is made either by placing cut green vegetation in a silo or pit, by piling it in a large heap and compressing it down so as to leave as little oxygen as possible and then covering it with a plastic sheet, or by wrapping large round bales tightly in plastic film.

For more details on Silage see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silage

 

 hutches

Individual  hutches  for calves

 

 

When a calf is born, it is cleaned and immediately transferred to individual hutches.  It is kept in the hutch for  8 – 10 weeks.   I did wonder  how cows and their calves could be “happy” if they are separated at birth.  I did  not ask any embarrassing questions.  But back home,  I went to the internet and searched “Hutches for Calves.”  I got this reasoning from a blog written by Jennifer Heim, a dairy  farm owner.  “The vast majority of cows don’t give a second thought to their calf once it is out of their sight. We as dairy farmers, on the other hand, put a lot of thought into calf care.”

“Individual housing allows us to know exactly what is going in and coming out of each calf. This helps us monitor their development as well as identify illness. This may surprise you, but most of our calves can’t talk (ok, none of our calves can talk). The most common signs that a calf isn’t feeling well are loose manure, called “scours”, or lack of appetite. Individual housing allows us to know quickly and certainly which calf is scouring or not eating. We can then give that calf the extra attention and treatment that she needs.”

https://heimdairy.wordpress.com/2014/01/14/why-dairy-farmers-separate-cows-and-calves/

closeup of hutch

Close up of a hutch.  Unlike in India, the calves get all the colostrum produced by the cows.

 calves fed from bottlle

The calves are fed from a bottle.  The tour guide said that the calves consider their feeder as their mother.

 

The calves are not fed  whole milk but a “Milk Replacer.”

Milk replacer protein sources categorized by their acceptability.

Preferred

Acceptable*

Marginal

  • Dried whey protein concentrate

  • Dried skim milk

  • Casein

  • Dried whey

  • Dried whey product

  • Soy protein isolate

  • Protein modified soy flour

  • Soy protein concentrate

  • Animal plasma

  • Egg protein

  • Modified wheat protein

  • Soy flour

  • Modified potato protein

Adapted from A Guide to Modern Milk Replacer, Bovine Alliance on Management and Nutrition, 2002.

*Acceptable when used as a partial substitute for milk protein.

 

 ultra 24

Typical  Milk Replacer.

 

There is a lot of debate on the suitability and economics of  whole milk ( raw or pasteurized) as compared to milk replacer.   The dairy farmers claim that milk replacer is better than having the calf drink from its mother.  See https://heimdairy.wordpress.com/2014/01/14/why-dairy-farmers-separate-cows-and-calves/

 

  shed with fitted fans

A large shed  fitted with fans.  The cows are free to come here  during hot weather. A tractor is used once a day  to skim dung  from the sand.  The sand is replaced every year.

 

  milking cow

The  cows are milked twice a day  at  0500  and 1700.  (Photo from company website)

 

 

 The dairy has its own milk processing plant.  Cream, butter and ice cream are produced.  A cheese processing facility is planned.  A byproduct  of cheese production is whey  which is a major ingredient of  Milk Replacer for  calves.

 interior of retail shop

Interior of  the  retail shop

 

 souviner shp

The retail shop  also sells  souvenirs such as Tee shirts and coffee mugs.

 

 icecream

35 varieties of ice cream  on display at the retail store. (Photo from company website)

 

 

 

All the ingredients being fresh,  the ice cream was superb.  Well worth the visit.

 

 play area

A play area for children.

 

 

The farm arranges birthday parties for children.  The kids love the outing.

 

For  more details see the website

http://www.simplynaturalcreamery.com

 

A Tailpiece…Down Memory Lane (By the editor)

 

As I said, we lived in large houses, built over several acres of land during the fifties. There was enough space to keep buffaloes and poultry. And therefore, we did not have to run to the ‘supermarket’ to buy milk or eggs. Given below are some pictures of those ‘good old days’

 

 

 

 meerut cantt

 

163, The Mall, Meerut Cantt (1955-57)

 

 allahabad

 

8, Ponappa Road, Allahabad (1957-59)

 

 surinder

 

My younger brother, Surinder is having a jolly good ride on a buffalo in Meerut. This picture was taken in 1956. Surinder was a little over eleven years old.

*

A Philosophical Post Script 

Have you ever visited a ‘modern’ dairy or poultry farm? If yes, have you ever looked at life from the point of view of a cow or a hen? They are domesticated animals, and therefore, we humans have the absolute right to treat them the way we like. And we exercise our authority, without any compunction.

 

Until about a hundred years ago, cows, buffaloes and hens/roosters were part of the households. They were tied at night, but during the day, they were sent to the fields to graze. And they were allowed to mate, when the time came. The chickens were housed in small enclosures. The hens laid eggs, and they hatched them. The roosters did their part of the job with great elegance.

 

 And then, things changed. Modern techniques converted these miserable creatures into milk yielding and egg laying machines. The cows are now tied all day long. They are given the most appropriate feed but the breeding is done through artificial insemination. The female never sees the male of her species. Hens are even worse off. In their case, they are ‘sexed’ at birth and the male are ‘culled’. The eggs we eat are infertile; they are actually ‘vegetarian’. The females are confined to their pens where they live during their egg laying lives, and as soon as they are no longer remunerative, they are ‘tabled’. Both these creatures live at the pleasure of their owners.

The only creatures to which we are kind is the dog. And that is because they can bark.

 

 

 

  1. Dr Anna Koruth says:

    Here in UK we are not that severely into ” factory methods” of farming.
    In USA it is all about productivity per square kilometre and aggressive farming methods.

    Due to being so far north and daylight in summer months lasting almost 20 hours in summer time the cattle graze outdoors. So also sheep .
    And when a major new road cuts into farmland , traffic lights are introduced to enable the farmer to activate it to get his animals for milking .

    Scottish fruit berries are highly prized ..again due to long daylight hours in summer.
    In ABERDEEN esp we r very lucky. The local dairy makes its own ice cream, butter ,etc and it is v good.

    ” Battery farming of chickens ” is being phased out. Chickens are now allowed to go outside .

    Now it is all about ” food miles ” to cut down on use of fuel and CO2 emission.
    Buy local has become the slogan.
    U.K. and in Europe, local markets exist…..local farmers bring their produce to market. Aberdeen has one too.

    EU has a lot of legislation regarding almost everything. Hence most of the farmers voted to come out of the EU. We will know only in two years time what the full outcome of BREXIT will be . EU has said that negotiations can start only after the severance happens . There is talk that EU will be officially notified in 2017.,and severance happens two years from the date of notification.
    And there is talk that the House of Lords may veto BREXIT ..we will know only after the summer recess.

  2. Ghansham Singh Ahluwalia says:

    Dear Surjit ji,

    I found it quite interesting and very organised Diary in USA. It will be nice to know how are conditions prevalent in India.
    With regards.
    Ghansham

  3. Col M B Jauhari says:

    Thank you sir,

    Your articles not only contain great informative vale but transport the reader into another era and nostalgia.

    Like many people of our times we also had a cow and poultry at our home.

    I often wish to recreate that now but despite all the resources available now..i have not been able to do it.

    i think i m getting old.

    thanks again and regards

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Dear Jauhari,
      I don’t know who said it, but it is true that ‘beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder’
      Many people read what we send, but not many have expressed their appreciation the way you have!
      I am hoping to receive something from you…
      Surjit

  4. Sailendra Bhaskar says:

    Dear Generalsaab,

    You may not know who I am but I do read your blogs every time I can and enjoy it very much. I live in Chennai and am a biotechnologist working with plants and animals. I thought I should mention that its not just cows and chicken that are subjected to such stress full lives by farmers all over the world. Fish, pigs and other animals we eat have to endure so much before they are ‘tabled’.

    I have a degree in animal husbandry and feel it is my duty to try and correct things for these animals we raise for our stomachs. In our desperation to make animal husbandry profitable we have been feeding animals all kinds of chemicals in their feed mostly antibiotics and hormones to get them to grow faster. Man has finally realised that the antibiotics and hormones are ending up on human plates and causing untold damage to humans! I guess it is poetic justice for what we do to those lovely creatures. I work with algae and my team have recently discovered an algal species which contains huge quantities of beta glucan which is a soluble polysaccharide that boosts the immune response of animals that consume beta glucan. This means we can reduce the amount of anti-biotics and hormones in animal and fish feed and save our own species the problem of antibiotic resistance. We have also found ways of feeding fish and shrimp natural live feed rather than compounded feed and in this way we have reduced mortality in the ponds by almost 25%. This is akin to what the ‘Simply natural dairy’ folks are doing.

    There is hope yet for mankind and animalkind.

    Warm regards and happy blogging

    Sailendra Bhaskar

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Dear Mr Bhaskar,
      Ensconced in you words is a ray of hope!
      We are sanguine that your generation will find a solution to the problem. Generation of wealth cannot be the only goal of life. We have to aim at something higher and noble.
      May the Lord grant more strength to your elbow!
      Why don’t you send us a piece for our blog? You write very well.
      Surjit

  5. Jaideep Chadha says:

    Dear veerji

    Greetings.
    Thank you for the lovely letter that you sent me. It will be a prized possession,
    I am attaching a newspaper clipping. I am getting some photographs also. Will get them delivered
    Regards
    Jaideep

  6. Prabhu B.V. says:

    Sir

    Nice insight to what we human beings are. It’s very sad and disturbing.

    Recently, I have joined Presidency University, a new one in Bangalore. Most of the sr. faculties are from BITS and it’s a type of rejoining.

    Convey my regards to Madam

  7. Surendra Rishi says:

    Dear Surjit,

    A very lucid description.

    We visited a farm near Kandy in Sri Lanka recently. They follow similar processes.

    Regards,
    S Rishi

  8. Ramaya Balachandran says:

    Dear sir , Thanks a lot. In 70 years we have not built toilets in village schools. we have only contributed towards making our MPs and ministers rich who trade charges and slaps ( AAIDMK MP ). A long way to go. pl be in touch.

    with regards,
    Bala

  9. Bajaj says:

    Very interesting.

  10. Mirza Yawar Baig says:

    Very interesting article but for some reason my comment is not posting. Here it is for your pleasure:

    Lovely article. I don’t accept that milk replacer is better than mother’s milk but feeding it must be more logistically convenient I suppose. I wish the author had asked that question. Would have been interesting to know how they would have answered it.

    Lovely photo of your brother on his buffalo. One of my childhood memories is of riding the buffaloes of my friend – Murrah buffalos – to the tank for their swim and sitting on them as they took to the water. Then we would swim and lounge around until the buffalos were ready to go home and then we rode them home.

    Thank you for the very nice article.

    • J Thomas says:

      Dear Mr Mirza Yawar Baig,
      Thanks for your comments.

      Milk replacer is not claimed to be better than cow’s milk. Raw milk is considered unsuitable because of bacteria etc. So, the best option is considered to be pasteurised milk. Milk replacer is used to reduce the cost.

      Regards,
      J Thomas

  11. Harikumar Krishnannair says:

    Thank you Sir for sharing.

    regards
    Harikumar

  12. Manmohan Singh says:

    Thank you. An educative account for me.
    Regards & best wishes.

  13. vrk Prasad says:

    Thank you Sir, for the nice write up.But the comments are not getting uploaded, despite repeated attempts.
    rgds
    col vrk prasad

  14. commodore Bibhu Mohanti says:

    Thanks.
    As usual Wg Co Thomas is at another adventure. God bless him.

  15. yoginder sharma says:

    Thanks Surjit. Enjoyed reading the blog and your add-on nostalgic notes. Impressed by use of technology with a human heart in exploiting the animal-resources.

  16. csinstitute says:

    Why cant we rewind ! It was good to see SCC Thomas.Do please convey my regards to him. Your house in Meerut looks like the one Guddo and I lived in 94 -95 now called RAM House. Possibly.
    Regards.
    Madan

  17. kulbir singh says:

    Thanks for sharing Sir

  18. Lalit Dutta says:

    Interesting.

    Thanks Surjit & Tommy.

  19. Kishan Bhatia says:

    Sir

    Both cows and chickens are human food and human population is now in excess of 7+ billions. Modern techniques are designed to get maximum value from these animals as human food. Period. These animals are not necessarily pets to be adored like dogs are in the US and some other countries. En’f said.

    Kishan Bhatia

  20. Brig AJS Behl says:

    Hi Joe,
    Really very interesting.
    Mrs Thomas is very keen to see the entire dairy farm.
    Thanks,
    Amar jit.

  21. Col KVC Nair says:

    Dear Friends,
    Very thought provoking! Request all to open the link & read in full. Sure to remind of your own days gone by!

  22. Brig PT Gangadharan says:

    Forwarded to all his friends.

  23. Raj Chotrani says:

    Joseph Thomas Sahib, u r spreading propaganda. U were taken on a “show tour” the exact same type the Nazis created to show the Red Cross how Jews in camps were being treated. The reality was the Jews were being worked to death and executed in places like Buchenwald, which were hidden from the outside world. The dairy industry is a deeply abusive industry. Have u seen how loving dogs and cats are toward their litters? Do you believe a cow has less feeling for its new-born calf? The baby is separated from mother because we want the latter’s milk. The traumatized male calves will be slaughtered at age 8-12 weeks for veal. The female will be reared for reproduction. She will be raped continually, to produce babies. She will endure the trauma of separation each time after birth. This is her life. When she reaches stage when she can’t reproduce, she will be slaughtered for meat, the type used for sausages, etc.
    Raj

  24. Lt Gen C Sundara Rao says:

    Dear Surjit,

    Thank u for sharing this note on a visit to a Natural Dairy Farm, which is interesting.

    Sundara Rao

  25. Lt Col B B Ghai says:

    A very well authered article, that brings out usage of improved/modern methods of dairy farming. Nothing can replace mother’s breast milk directly fed. No amount alternatives/substitutes can replace mother fed milk. This directly feeding the calves appears to have be done away here. My father while posted at KGMC Ajmer (1957 -1959), before posting to Delhi, had ensuerd that we have good quality milk. So a milk giving cow was in our bungalow opposite the KGMC. We had lot of milk preparations available for our good health. At times we enjoyed the DHAR of milk directly into our mouths when the cow was being milked. Before & after milking the cow the calf was fed directly by letting loose.

    Hats of Gen Surjit for producing his brother’s picture on buffalo. These are things of the past. GUZRA HUA JAMANA AATA NAHIN DO BARA..

  26. col vrk prasad says:

    A nice write up , a very humane way of dealing with cows in my view no matter what others say.Compliments to the author for the informative piece and to the General for the brief trip down the memory lane.

  27. Benjamin Thomas says:

    At the outset, I want to let everyone know that I am Joseph Thomas’s brother, so you may or may not choose to believe the comments that I am adding. I live in Arizona, USA.

    This dairy farm with 3700 acres is a (wonderful) exception, not the norm for dairy farms that I have seen. My view is that “Simply Natural” has made a large scale version of all of the practices and advantages of a small family dairy farm.

    I have visited several smaller farms when I lived in Michigan, (spent the whole day once with the farmer and family) and I also spent a week in 2004 at a dairy farm in Idaho for a brand name milk producer, where our company was installing a new centrifuge machine for the production of low-fat milk. In every instance the cows were housed in large metal sheds, and were herded outside once or twice a day, mainly for exercise. Some of the farms have ample space, most don’t.

    I have noticed occasionally that there are other spacious dairy farms similar to “Simply Natural,” but I have not visited one.

    The Idaho farm (about 1500 cows) was used for the production of organic milk; the farm managed and cultivated their own crops and feed, so that they had strict control of the diet and the feed for the cows. Recycling, compost heaps, and manure pits were all managed in different areas of the farm. I was most impressed with the continual cleaning that they practiced everywhere in the facility; even the machinery (all stainless steel) was sprayed and washed down twice each day with hundreds of gallons of water, and that wastewater was then directed and used for the irrigation of their crops.

    The use of hutches for calves is very common all across the country. Even those farmers who only have one or two calves use a hutch.

    A final tidbit about whole milk and no-fat milk that I learned in Idaho. All of the milk produced by the cows was run through the centrifuge, and separated into NO-fat (<0.1% fat) milk and cream. There is no low-fat or whole milk stored after production. When the delivery trucks are loaded with milk later, if they require 2% or whole milk, the predetermined amount of cream is added to the truck at the very end. The mixing and blending of the cream and milk occurs naturally while the truck goes down the highway. (I'm not making this up). I was told that this is what all the milk producers do. Now you know how we in America produce "homogenized" milk.

  28. A well simple informative guide as if you are taken there and briefed. We should follow the informative and things warranted to be practiced in India.

    Wonderful Photographs.

  29. Cdr. K.P. Jani, (Retd) says:

    Dear WgCo and General;
    Sir(s);

    A very interesting and informative article on North Carolina based Natural Dairy Farm. I was a bit surprised to learn that calves separated from the mothers don’t miss each other.

    The olden memories captured in pictures by the General were very interesting.
    Thanks;
    KP

  30. Maj Gen Ashok Coomar says:

    Interesting write-up with information not everyone is familiar with.
    I however do not believe that the mother does not miss the new-born calf because I was lucky enough to have seen milch animals at home as a kid. A cow licks and rubs against a calf for minutes and longer. Milk replacer too is unconvincing.
    But no one can deny that despite all the above cows must be much better off than they are in India!

    • J Thomas says:

      Thanks, Gen Ashok Coomar. Personally, I agree with you. However, I am not an expert on the subject.

      Pasteurised cow’s milk is considered the best feed for calves. However, milk replacer is used to reduce costs.

      regards,
      J Thomas

  31. Raj Chotrani says:

    Joseph Thomas Sahib, u r spreading propaganda. U were taken on a “show tour” the exact same type the Nazis created to show the Red Cross how Jews in camps were being treated. The reality was the Jews were being worked to death and executed in places like Buchenwald, which were hidden from the outside world.

    The dairy industry is a deeply abusive industry. Have u seen how loving dogs and cats are toward their litters? Do you believe a cow has less feeling for its new-born calf? The baby is separated from mother because we want the latter’s milk.

    The traumatized male calves will be slaughtered at age 8-12 weeks for veal. They will literally live their short stay on earth without knowing mother’s love.

    The female will be reared for reproduction. She will be raped continually, to produce babies. She will endure the trauma of separation each time after birth. This is her life. When she reaches stage when she can’t reproduce, she will be slaughtered for meat, the type used for sausages, etc.

    • J Thomas says:

      Raj Chotrani, I agree with you that the world will be a better place if all of us become vegetarian.

      Since you are opposed to dairy farming altogether, I trust you do not consume any milk products. If we reduce the demand for milk and milk products, the dairy industry will be forced to shut down.

  32. KRISHNAMURTHY SUNDARAM says:

    Dear Wg Cdr Thomas,
    Thanks for the informative and a wonderful piece!

    Sincerely,
    Wg Cdr SS Krishnamurthy

  33. Suri D S says:

    Gen. Surjit & Joseph Ji,

    The post evoked my gratitude to The Almighty, for granting me the comradeship of the noble beings like you.

    Admirable choice of cause & subtle message.

    With loving regards.

    soorkhan

  34. PT Gangadharan says:

    A wonderful conducted tour.Hope we also adopt some of the techniques in our country.Every visit is a learning process.We have constraints of land but innovation can be attempted to succesfuly.

  35. P G George says:

    Well written article and very informative. It is well known that a lot of scientific means and modern technologies are adopted in dairy farming, but getting an insight for a crisp reading is appreciable.
    Thanks to the authors

  36. Dave Sood says:

    Never thought of visiting a Working Dairy. Next time I am in states. Americans always think of milk like juice that it comes in bottles or containers.

    3500 acres…It can only happen in USA. The cost of land will make it prohibitive in India.A friend of mine has taken to Milk and has 10 acres in Hapur. We are one of his customers. He is extremely happy with his venture. For some reason he has named his product very french sounding. O’Leche.

    Interesting read.

  37. Lovely article. I don’t accept that milk replacer is better than mother’s milk but feeding it must be more logistically convenient I suppose. I wish the author had asked that question. Would have been interesting to know how they would have answered it.

    Lovely photo of your brother on his buffalo. One of my childhood memories is of riding the buffaloes of my friend – Murrah buffalos – to the tank for their swim and sitting on them as they took to the water. Then we would swim and lounge around until the buffalos were ready to go home and then we rode them home.

    Thank you for the very nice article.

  38. yoginder sharma says:

    Stimulating read! A fascinating example of ‘technology with a heart’, even when dealing with cows and calves!
    Compliments to the Author and Surjit for the nostalgic fillers.

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