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A2 Milk Could Be New Opportunity for Dairy Farmers


by David Hochstetler

Published: Friday, March 15, 2019

Grazing in Michiana

Upon attending the Northern Indiana Grazing Conference this year, I visited with quite a few young farmers. These young farmers had other concerns on their minds, other than seeding, grazing or hay harvesting.

The question was, who is going to buy our milk in the future? And how should it be produced to fit the needs? Is organic good enough, or should it be all grass, A2, or is the timing right for us, together as a community, to process and market our own brand of grass fed, A2 dairy products? It just doesn't seem right to import grass-fed butter and A2 milk from New Zealand.

Talking about these issues brings back memories of the small creameries in the past. Burger Dairy bought milk from local farmers and made the best ice cream. As some of you know, ice cream is my favorite dessert! Middlebury Creamery made lots of Crystal Springs butter. Vic's ice cream also bought local milk and cream, and there were others too. Now they're all gone.

I don't think that organic, grass fed and A2 milk can be commercialized like conventional and organic. So maybe that could be the future for the small family farm.

Spring is almost here and the sun feels a little warmer every day. God's wonderful creation is about to break dormancy and plants starting to sprout and trees starting to bud. It all gives me a new ambition to get out to the fields to see how our pastures and hay fields survived the winter.

It is very hard for me to look out the window and make the decision about what needs to be made. If I walk the fields before plants go dormant, I can see what is there and decide what needs to be renovated; some fields need to be overseeded in the spring to make them more dense.

The new seedings in the fall looked good before dormancy. After dormancy, the small grass sprouts kind of wither away, and you think you've lost it. It gives a farmer an uneasy feeling. Will it come back or have we lost it?

Most generally it will come back if we remain patient. If it doesn't, we have to wait until fall and then no-till more seed.

Some of our fields have black soils, with the water table within 30 inches of the surface, so perennial rye grass does very well in those fields. We really like the rye grass since we can supplement it better with lesser quality hay or barley baleage to offset the high protein levels.

One of our foremost goals was to become 100 percent A2, which we have almost accomplished. Our next goal, or maybe I should say challenge, is to become all grass.

Becoming all grass, we believe, is not going to happen overnight successfully.

First, I think I have to make some changes between the ears, and get out of the box I created for myself.

Most men need challenges to motivate themselves. I guess, without them, farming would become boring—just doing the same thing over and over. We may not like these changes, but if we want to stay in business, we will have to meet consumer demand.

These rye grass, clover pastures that we like so well and have learned to work with, may not be the future in all grass. So what is the pasture for all grass?

I must say I'm not sure. We have some ideas, but until we have accomplished it, I guess I don't know. I do believe each farmer has to experiment for himself, because I think what will work on one farm, may not work on another farm.

It depends a lot on soil types, fertility and management. The best fertilizer the soil ever gets is the farmer's footprints.

"If all obstacles must first be overcome, nothing will ever be attempted."

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