Beyond Organic Milk: Rolling Meadow Grass-Fed Dairy

Photo from Rolling Meadow

Like many moms, I started buying organic milk when I had my first child. It’s been 11 years of paying a premium each week for better milk (and other dairy products) and truthfully I’d rather not add up the total. The trigger for making the change was my baby, but it was a gateway I wanted to pass through for other reasons too, to support more responsible agricultural practices, fewer pesticides running into our waterways, and better treatment of the animals we rely upon to feed us.

This last concern, about animal welfare, worried me, because I knew the organic label did not assure the humane treatment of the cows. I knew from reading Michael Pollan‘s The Omnivore’s Dilemma and other food literature that big organic can be awfully similar to conventional practices, just without the pesticides and other additives. I wrote to a popular organic dairy supplier – with its branded picture of a grazing cow – and asked about their treatment of the cows, and whether they go outside. They did not reply.

I bought organic anyway, hoping that at least it presented a better chance for the humane treatment of the cows. I didn’t really know though.

So you can imagine how happy I was to discover a dairy company that prioritizes animal welfare! Rolling Meadows is a Canadian grass-fed dairy (and also sells pastured eggs) that works with local farmers in Southwestern Ontario. And there’s this, right front and centre of their website:

We allow our cows to graze on pasture as long as our Canadian weather will allow and ensure they are kept happy and healthy.

Like you, we feel that cows appreciate the little things like a long walk across a field or having the sun on your face during a sunny summers day. We believe in respect and dignity for our animals and partner with farmers who agree wholeheartedly with our position on animal welfare.

By understanding how we care for our animals you can feel good about drinking our milk knowing it came from farms that you would be proud of.

Beyond Organic Milk: Rolling Meadow Grass-Fed Dairy

Rolling Meadow’s grass-fed milk offers a host of other benefits too. Their FAQ page explains that its omega-3 content is 3 times higher than conventional milk (where cows are fed primarily corn silage). Grass-fed milk may also be more easily digestible, and some people with lactose sensitivities report that they can tolerate it. Moreover, they partner with local farmers, including Mennonite and Dutch farms that “share our high standards for environmental sustainability, animal welfare, and product safety”.

Rolling Meadows dairy is not certified organic, but is beyond organic. It costs less, but goes further than the organic label.

Which means the grazing cow on their label isn’t a misrepresentation. I’ve finally found what I’m looking for.

Beyond Organic Milk: Rolling Meadow Grass-Fed Dairy

Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post, although I was provided with milk samples.

3 thoughts

  1. Were you able to find out the mechanics of the cows being in “milk giving mode” to the extent of the volume of milk Rolling Meadows sells? I can’t see how they get past the impregnation process and removal of the calves so the milk is available for collection. (ie. the calves do not wean with their mother) That is the only thing I don’t know and is giving me some trepidation.

    1. Hi Margaret! The cows on Rolling Meadow partner farms live roughly 3x longer than conventional dairy cows- we do not push them to increase volumes and they’re significantly healthier than conventional dairy cattle. We tend to get 6+ lactations from our cows, whereas we understand the average number is typically 2 in conventional. The cows are kept on the farms as long as they can produce milk healthily. We do remove calves from their mothers relatively quickly, but we often allow the calves to suckle for a few days in order to receive Colostrum naturally. At this time, there are currently no alternatives to this process. We make all efforts to ensure animal welfare is of the utmost important on all farms that we partner with. Should an opportunity arise for us to do otherwise, we will make adjustments to optimize animal welfare in this regard.

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