Are the cows that provide milk for your yogurts treated humanely?
Indeed they are! The cows that make milk for our yogurts have adequate space, an appropriate diet and housing, and they’re properly handled and cared for. Their pens even have special grooming brushes that they really love to use! These brushes help the cows express their natural grooming behaviors, bond with herd-mates, and work off their heavy winter coats in the spring. Plus, from the looks of it, they just feel really, really good.
Our Brown Cow farmers believe so strongly in the benefits of creating stress-free, caring environments for their cows that they have also voluntarily created their own animal welfare advisory committee made up of experts from across the country.
Do the cows that make milk for your yogurt have access to pasture?
No, the cows don’t have access to pasture, but they are housed in open-sided barns and open lots outdoors where they can freely move and exercise, socialize and breathe fresh air.
Are the cows that make milk for your yogurt tightly confined?
No. Our cows are housed in open-sided barns and open lots outdoors where they can freely move and exercise, socialize and breathe fresh air. They live in a comfortable, healthy and clean environment.
What do your cows eat?
Like most animals, cows’ dietary needs change as they age, or depending on whether or not they’re producing milk. It might sound funny, but our farmers actually work with a nutritionist to formulate diets tailored to the cows’ nutritional needs at various life stages.
In general, though, milking cows eat about 60% forage, which includes alfalfa silage, alfalfa hay, corn silage, straw and some wheat silage. Silage is a kind of feed that’s made when the full plant is harvested at early maturity to capture its nutrients, then finely chopped, packed tightly to keep air out, and allowed to ferment. The remaining 40% of the milking cow’s diet is made up of grains, vitamins and minerals. Our farmers grow much of their own silage right on the farm, but they do buy some silage, hay, and grains from off the farm, typically from local growers and businesses within 100 miles.
Do your cows eat GMO feed?
The cows that make milk for our Brown Cow Non-GMO 0% Fat Greek Yogurt eat only non-GMO feed and pasture.
On the farms that provide milk for your yogurts, what happens to sick cows?
Sick cows are treated appropriately by veterinarians and highly trained staff supervised by veterinarians. After a cow is identified as being sick, it is segregated from the herd into a special needs pen, diagnosed, and treated. Sick cows are observed daily, and their milk is not used in our yogurt or otherwise used for human consumption.
The primary ailment on our farms is mastitis (an infection of the udder), but its level of occurrence is no higher than 0.5-2%.
Are the cows that make milk for Brown Cow yogurts treated with artificial growth hormones (rBST / rBGH)?
No, our farmers don’t treat their cows with artificial growth hormones. Instead, they ensure their cows’ productivity with a nutritious diet and great living conditions.
Are your cows treated with any hormones at all?
Yes, our farmers do use synchronization hormones (reproductive hormones) when they’re breeding cows using artificial insemination.
Are your cows treated with antibiotics?
Under the guidance of veterinarians, our farmers do use antibiotics to help any sick cows get well. However, they do not treat healthy cows with antibiotics. In other words, they don’t use antibiotics as a preventative measure, only when needed to help cure a cow that’s ill.
It’s important to note that, if a sick cow does have to be treated with antibiotics, that cow's milk is kept separate from the rest of the milk shipped to us (or other customers) until the antibiotics have cleared her system and her milk is free from antibiotic residues. This isn't just what our farmers do, it's what's required by US dairy regulations on conventional dairy farms.
By the way, after a cow on a non-organic dairy farm is treated with antibiotics and is well again, she can go back into the milking herd. On an organic dairy farm, however, antibiotics are prohibited by the USDA Organic Standards. So if an organic cow needs to be treated with antibiotics as a life-saving measure, she will be removed from the herd and cannot be milked as an organic cow again.
What happens to cows that are no longer able to produce milk?
If, and only if, the cow is able to make the ride to a slaughterhouse free from pain and distress, it’s often sold as beef. About 90% of the time, this is the case. Our farms work with a dedicated company whose people are fully trained in all aspects of animal welfare and handling.
What happens to male calves on the farms that provide Brown Cow with milk?
At first, bull calves are treated exactly as heifer calves are treated. They receive special care from both mom and farmer, and receive that all-important first meal: colostrum. Bull calves are then separated out and sold to other farms where they’re raised for beef. They are not sold for veal.
On your farms, how long after a calf’s birth is it separated from its mom?
Our farmers allow the cow to lick her calf dry, which usually takes 60 to 90 minutes. During that time, the farmers make sure mom is handling her calf well. If she isn’t, the farmers remove the calf, for the sake of its wellbeing, and dry it off themselves. If the mother is handling her calf well, the farmers allow her to lick the calf dry, then they feed the calf its all-important first meal, colostrum. The calf’s future health and productivity depend upon this first meal, and our farmers make sure each calf receives the right quality and quantity.
Which breeds of cows live on the farms that provide Brow Cow with milk?
Our cows are 98 to 99% Holsteins, but there are also a few Jerseys and a few Red & White Holsteins.
Are the cows that produce milk for your yogurts dehorned? If so, at what age and how?
Yes, our calves are dehorned no later than 5 weeks of age. Our farmers’ dehorning practices have been reviewed and approved of by the animal rights group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).
The farmers first numb the area with a local anesthesia (lidocaine), and then dehorn the calves using a hot iron. The calf is also given a long-lasting painkiller that’s similar to the Aleve that many people take. Calves experiences very little pain from the dehorning process, and then cows and farmers alike benefit from a dairy that’s free of the dangers of horned animals.