Our cows are pasture-fed and are certified organic. Whenever the weather permits, they spend their time out on pasture, grazing on the rich, sweet grasses that are typical for Marin and Sonoma Counties in Northern California. Their diet consists of about 50-80% forages, which include fresh grasses, silage and hay. The other 20-50% consists of a variety of certified organic grains.
In our location, we enjoy lush, green pastures for about seven months of the year, from November through May. During the winter months, the Northern California Coast experiences heavy, cold rainfall. On days when it rains, animals cannot be out on pasture, for the good of the land and the health of the animals.
During that time, our cows stay in an open-sided barn, with large, open stalls filled with organic rice-hull bedding. There are two very important reasons to keep cows inside: to prevent a cow from getting stress-related diseases including foot rot, mastitis and pneumonia; and to prevent soil erosion.
Spring is the best time for cows to be on grass. Our pastures provide high-quality protein and many vitamins and minerals. We're fortunate to have good weather and good soil, which we manage carefully, so that the nutrients in our pastures are plentiful. Access to open pasture also reduces the threat of communicable diseases that occur in overcrowded conditions.
A Cow’s Diet
Milking cows need a balanced diet, full of nutrients. The majority of their diet consists of grasses. In addition, they are fed certified organic forages, such as silage and alfalfa hay and also organic grains, such as rye, triticale, flax meal, and wheat. All purchased feeds are certified organic and are tested to be GMO free. We work closely with a dairy nutritionist, who has served on the National Organic Standards Board, to create a balanced diet for our cows, to maintain their health and enable them to produce milk.
Silage is made from grass and forbs that are cut while green and are then naturally fermented to retain their high nutritive value over time. Silage can consist of many things and can vary in different parts of the country and farms. The cut material ferments over time to create a kind of cow's version of coleslaw. They really like it and it's very nutritious.