On the Farm: Find Out What Dairies Are All About!
Health and wellness professionals around the country have long recognized the nutritional contributions milk, yogurt and cheese make to people’s lives.
But many are less familiar with how dairy farmers are leading the way in environmental stewardship. This June Dairy Month, we’d like to change that.
Although I’ve visited hundreds of farms, I learn something new with every trip. Recently, Debra French, a fellow registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) from Washington State Dairy Council, and I took a group of RDNs to visit the Krainick Dairy and J&K Dairy LLC.
At Krainick Dairy, farmer Leann Krainick explained to us that they use nutrition-packed, spent grain from local breweries to help feed their cows. This has a double benefit- it helps keep the breweries operating and prevents tons of used grain from going into a landfill. Instead, the cows, because of their unique four-chambered stomachs, are able to convert what would have been wasted food into nutritious milk.
We also learned that the Krainick cows have their own consulting nutritionist, who helps keep them healthy. Similar to what an RDN does for people, the dairy cow nutritionist visits the farm once a month to evaluate each cow’s health and body condition, reviews test results from the feed and develops customized rations or diets for each stage of their life cycle.
During our visit to J&K Dairy LLC, we found out that co-owners Tony and Brenda Veiga and Jason and Karen Sheehan do many things to be good environmental stewards. They are very conscientious about how much water they use, recycling it four to five times. They also use a system that recycles fiber from dried manure solids to create clean, premium bedding for their cows. Bedding recovered from manure allows a product that would otherwise have environmental impact to be reused in a beneficial way.
Stories like these help us understand modern agriculture, so as health and wellness professionals, we can educate the public about how to make better food choices, understand where their food comes from and help people on their health and wellness journey. And starting this month, you can find your own stories by visiting dairies! Dairy farms across the country are opening their doors and inviting you to take a tour, either in person or virtually.
During June Dairy Month and all year, let’s recognize the important contributions dairy farmers and the entire dairy community make to sustainability, economic development, nutrition and wellbeing!