When people first try Farmery's milk, they are used to a thick, creamy taste in milk that doesn’t change much around the year. But was it the same growing up, when the milk came from a local farmer?
It’s understandable that you’d be surprised if the milk you drink everyday seems to change occasionally. You might as well suspect that the milk is adulterated. Or of low quality.
A few customers reached out to us to understand why the thickness was varying in the milk they got from Farmery. In case you have a related question or a suspicion, I’d hope you find an answer in this post :)
Let me begin by first considering …
What is good milk made of?
When someone talks of good quality milk, the person usually means that the milk has the nutrients that one would expect. Milk has fat content, solids that are not fat (SNF), proteins and several dissolved minerals. The fat is largely responsible for the thickness and creamy taste of milk.
The composition of milk, however, changes naturally based on different factors. Especially, the fat composition. Academic literature can tell you about tens of different factors that change milk’s composition. But for the purpose of this blog, I’ll stick with the two that we believe are most relevant for Farmery’s customers.
One, the feed that cattle eats. And two, the relative environment at the farms as well as the weather at large.
How Does Cow’s Feed Affect Your Milk?
Cows are awesome. That’s because they can eat something like grass, and make milk that is fit for us to drink. Naturally, the cows eat a lot of grass at all the farms we partner with.
Cows are let loose to graze in open lands and pastures. The cows particularly like to take a stroll in the evenings.
These green fields belong usually to the dairy farmer himself. The farmers take great care to ensure that the grass that cows graze on are organically grown. In some cases, the farmers have kept these fields free from pesticides and fertilizers for years.
Other than grass, there is also a mix of grains that farmers feed their cattle.
Watch Nitin tell you about it:
जौ- You may know it as Barley. This is an especially carbohydrate-rich grain that helps the cattle digest food effectively. Plus, it is an excellent source of energy for cattle.
मूंग दाल चुरी - Churi means powder. This grain mix is a powdered form of moong bean, also called green gram in some areas. This is a feed that cows enjoy having. It encourages cattle to produce more milk, while making the milk more protein-rich at the same time.
मेथी - Also called Fenugreek, मेथी makes the fatty acids in milk more effective and reduce cholesterol concentration in the milk. It’s fairly obvious that feeding मेथी to the cattle gives us healthier milk.
Cottonseed cakes- The cake is what’s left after the oil has been extracted from cottonseeds. This adds protein and fat content to the milk.
Now, what the cattle eat on a given day can vary. From an animal to another, as well as across different farms.
Sometimes the cattle may feel like loading up on grass and doesn’t want to have the grains. At other times, they only want to munch on grains lazing around in their shed 🙃
I know I’m oversimplifying, but you get the idea.
And what I said in the quotes above, isn’t exactly a far-fetched idea. Have you heard of the heat stress?
How does Weather Affects Your Milk?
The graph above shows how does fat and protein in milk vary along the year. Since both India and US are in the northern hemisphere, the weather patterns are largely similar. Our experience largely says the same.
Fat and protein content takes a dip in the hot and humid months of July and August. From there, the levels rise to a peak in December.
It’s interesting to note that the milk fat and proteins correlate with the feed cattle eats. These go down when the cattle eats less feed during the summers, and it goes back up with more feed intake in the winters. We had to ram our brains a bit before we knew why this was the case.
Just like we have an ideal room temperature that best works for us (27 degrees Celsius), cows have a ‘thermal-neutral zone’ themselves. Exactly like us, they can comfortably radiate and absorb heat to maintain their body temperature when they are in the zone.
But when they’re out of their comfort zone (pun intended), they have to use much more energy to regulate the body temperature. Naturally, this energy doesn’t go towards producing milk. They go slow on the feed too. This is because the feed itself produces heat in the body upon digestion.
If you ask Nitin, he’d say
Minerals and mixtures are not recommended for cows’ consumption in summers because it leads to digestive issues’.
Now, you know why.
All of this sounds obvious. Then, why is it that you get milk that feels the same across all four season?
Quick Answer: Homogenization.
I’d love to tell you all about the homogenization process, but thankfully, Vignesh already did a good job at it in an answer on Quora. You can find it in the footnotes below.
Suffice it to say that homogenization spreads the Fats in milk uniformly across. Hence, making the milk homogenised.
Fats are the reason why you feel that the milk is thick or that the milk has a creamy taste to it. If I get to keep the fat spread consistent, you’ll always see milk the same way.
But is that good for you?
At Farmery, we don’t think so. We believe that milk is the best in its natural state- raw and unprocessed.
We’ll do all we can to maintain a consistent superior quality in the milk we sell, but we don’t want to unnecessarily change anything that’s natural.
What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments.