Soil Nutrition & Cow Milking 101

I’m back for the second to last Stonyfield Blogger Barnstorming Tour post!

First, I’d like to highlight the second farm we visited, the Choiniere Family Farm, which is run by Guy (pronounced “Ghee”) and Beth Choiniere.

I was VERY impressed with the entire Choiniere family. I had a chance to talk to their high school aged son, Matt, a bit more at the dinner we hosted with the farmers, and he told me he wished that they would teach more about nutrition in school because his friends don’t understand how important it is. Smart guy, right?! I know I certainly wasn’t thinking about nutrition when I was in high school!

Guy Choiniere is very knowledgeable and passionate about organic farming, and he is also a runner, which impressed me! Guy calls his cows his “athletes,” and says that for cows, being milked is like running a marathon! He says his job is to act as their trainer, keeping them as healthy as possible by providing them with healthy, nourishing fuel (in the form of pasture!).

He has about 65 milking cows, and also employs a rotational grazing strategy with a 40 day grazing rotation. Guy’s belief is that the health of the animals (and those eating their products) will depend directly on the health of the soil.  

One of the most interesting things that I took away from Guy was that we should look at organic food not in terms of the price for the amount of food we’re getting, but for the amount of nutrients that are actually IN that food (as a direct result of the soil health). 

Guy was so interesting that we asked if we could film a short video of him for all of you about why it’s actually important to buy organic food and what a big difference he’s noticed in his animal’s immunity levels since he went organic:


Interesting, right? 🙂

Cow Milking 101

There’s one question that I received from all of you that I haven’t yet answered:

Q: How much milk comes from a cow during one milking session?

A: The amount of milk varies depending on where the cows are in their cycle, but organic farms get about 5 to 6 gallons of milk per day per cow (from two milkings). Non-organic farms get anything from 6 to 10 gallons.

The farmer who let us milk his cows, Earl Fournier, was also at the dinner we hosted, and he told me he went organic for sustainability reasons. He said “Either I was going to tell my son to find something else to do for a job, or I was going to go organic. Our land was just not sustainable with conventional farming!”

Earl’s farm, The Fournier Farm, has 70 milking cows and apparently it takes about an hour and 45 minutes to milk all of them — which he has to do twice a day! I have SO much respect for farmers after this tour — their hard work never stops!

I have one final barnstorming post coming tomorrow. 🙂 It will include another video and details of an organic veggie farm we visited, including a veggie I’d never heard of before! I’ll also be talking about how this trip has changed my buying habits at the store. Stay tuned!

p.s. I will be posting an AWESOME giveaway later today (around 3 p.m.) that you won’t want to miss! It may or may not involve almond butter 😉 Be sure to check back and enter to win!

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