FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
So... you're a dairy farmer?
There are not that many of us left! But yes, we are dairy farmers. Our family has been dairying since the 1930's when our grandfather, Leon Nice, started Nice Farms in New Jersey. in 1989, our parents purchased 201 acres and moved the Miller and Tanner Dairy from Bordentown, NJ to American Corner, Maryland in order to be commited to an instensly grazed herd. However, years of low milk prices and higher production costs threatened the sustainability of our family's dairy. So in 2009 we opened an on farm creamery and began selling our own milk direct to the customer, at farmers markets, and at local retail locations. We take great pride in providing the utmost quality in our dairy products, both in freshness and nutrition.
Why are you not certified organic?
There are three primary reasons our dairy does not certify organic.
1. We do not feed certified organic grain to our cows. Our cows are given only a tiny grain ration (about a pound each- compare that to over thirty pounds each used in standard dairy practices). They receive this grain during milking time and the grain serves as a little reward for them while milking. Grain IS NOT a major part of our cows' diet at all. We source this grain from a local mennonite feed mill.
2. We do not get rid of cows if we treat them with antibiotics. Organic regulations are written that if a cow is ever treated with antibiotics she must not be permitted to remain in your organic herd. On our dairy, antibiotics serve as a last resort for cows that get sick or sustain an injury. We do not "dry treat" our cows or treat them as a preventative measure-antibiotics are given only if the cow needs it. We want our cows to recover and continue their dairy careers on our farm for as long as possible. As standard in the American dairy industry, no milk from cows treated with antibiotics is mixed with milk destined for human consumption. If a cow is treated (and she is lactating) she is tested before we allow her milk to go in with the rest of the cows' milk.
3. The affordability of our products is important to us. We have many families that purchase our milk in quantity. Certifying organic would potentially price out a large group of our most loyal customers.
At the Miller and Tanner Dairy Farm, we pride ourselves in operating as natural and sustainable a dairy as possible-and the proof is in the great taste and quality of our milk. Our rotational grazing practices sequester carbon. Our soil is rich in organic matter and we have one of the healthiest dung beetle populations on Maryland's Eastern Shore. Nice Farms was chosen by Salisbury University's Biology Department for graduate student research on dung beetles and their importance to organic farming.
What is creamline milk?
Creamline milk is milk that is unhomogenized. We firmly believe that the less our pasture-fed, all natural milk is tampered with the better it is for you. Therefore, we gently low temp pasteurize at 145 degrees (lowest allowed by law) via the vat method and do not homogenize our milk. Homogenization is the process in which milk fat globules are mechanically dispersed through the milk in order to prevent the milk's cream from separating. Many argue that homogenized milk tastes blander and the altered state of the milk molecules may not be the best for digestion. Non-homogenized milk like ours will have a rich cream layer that will rise if the milks sits undisturbed in the refrigerator for a few hours-simply shake and enjoy!
How much milk do your cows produce?
This is a great question! Since we are a pastured dairy and we do not use any rBST or other milk enhancing hormones our cows produce about one third of the milk that a standard grain fed cow produces. But do not be dismayed- because this is a good thing! Since our cows are pasture fed and produce less milk volume overall, that means that there are MORE vitamins and nutrients in our milk per gallon compared to the standard industry and even most organic milk brands.
Organic Milk is not what you think it is- Mark Kastel of the Cornucopia Institute estimated that as much as 40% of organic milk in stores in 2009 was "phony" organic milk produced by enormous feedlot dairies feeding organic grain and milking as many as 7000 cows! Today these statistics are even higher! These animals are not grazed which denies the opportunity for added nutritional benefits from the grass to get into the milk. (Statistics quoted from Stockman Grass Farmer AUG 2009)
Baby, Its cold outside! Do the cows still graze?
Simply, YES! In the fall and early winter (unless there is a severe drought) we still have decent grass in our fields. We plan ahead and plant cool weather grasses for just that purpose. To supplement the pastures during the fall and winter, we feed hay that was grown in the spring and summer.
Why don't you bottle in glass?
This was a decision we thought heavily about and ultimately we had to concede that bottling in glass is just not sustainable for a small, on farm creamery. Many of our customers are families who buy lots of milk at a time. The majority of our milk is sold by the gallon and glass milk bottles are rarely seen larger than 1/2 gallons. Not to mention the sticker shock our customers would experience switching to a glass container. We like to try to keep our milk as affordable as possible. Our plastic containers are manufactured locally on the peninsula and are 100% recyclable. Our bottle source is also a small business, themselves, and our business' support helps to support families and communities on Delmarva.
In addition, in order to bottle in glass we would need to invest in washing and bottling equipment that meets very tough state regulations. We would also have to expand our creamery building to house the equipment. The investment would be extreme, just to get started. Not to mention the cost to generate the energy to maintain glass bottles and then what to do with all of the additional waste water generated from washing the bottles. We are in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed we we take pride in being good stewards of the land. Its not as simple as washing a bottle, sadly. For a small, family dairy that milks just 40 cows, it is not a sustainable option for us.
What kind of cows do you have?
We have a mixed herd. Pure Jerseys and Holsteins have been bred for production in the American Dairy Industry and do not do well on an instensively pastured diet. To have an animal that is more suited for a pasture based system we introduce new genetics by crossing our Holsteins and Jerseys with heritage breeds: Dutch Belted, Milking Shorthorn, Lineback, and New Zealand Friesian. Our cows boast long lifespans: Our record milking cow is our label cow, appropriately named "Famous Cow," who is on her 14th year- she was born on our farm in 2000. On average our cows live for ten years- compared to the standard statistic of 4 years.
Do you sell Pet Milk?
We do not sell raw milk- not even for pet use. For a small, family dairy like ours- the regulatory risk is not worth it. Too many in our family rely on our family farm for their livelihoods.
With that said- we believe in producing the highest quality milk and keeping our pasteurization process to the legal minimum requirements. This produces a product that is very much like raw milk- in that the milk still contains active, beneficial enzymes- very little denaturing of proteins and protects that fresh from the cow taste in our milk. You can make cheese with our milk- that's how little we mess with it. Like raw milk, the cream comes to the top- as we do not homogenize.
Is your milk A1 or A2?
A2 milk is cow's milk that contains predominantly the A2 type of beta-casein protein rather than the more common A1 protein commonly found in regular milk. We do not test our cows for A1 or A2 proteins and assume that with a mixed herd we would have a mix of A1 and A2 proteins. A 2009 European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) review of scientific literature found there was insufficient evidence to prove that bioactive peptides in A1 milk have a negative effect on health.
Do you give farm tours?
You are always welcome to come out to the dairy during creamery hours to purchase our dairy products, however for liability reasons we do not give farm tours. The creamery has a small viewing window where you can see us in action but our farm is a working farm. For the safety of our customers we ask that you always be mindful of tractors and vehicles moving on the farm. Please do not leave children unattended and please respect that while our small family dairy is our place of business, it is also our private home.