Our small family farm is located within the beautiful rolling meadows of Marathon County, Wisconsin, just east of Athens. We manage and care for a small herd of dairy cattle that are A1 beta-casein free. This helps our family to focus on creating quality milk products for our customer friends. Our family works together in this endeavor.
Our cows are 100% naturally grassfed (No certification). They graze green pasture during the growing season and quality grass hay through the winter. All of our feed is biodynamic.
Good husbandry is a priority for us. Our cattle is always given access to the outdoors and shelter, if needed. We try to respectfully care for them in a humane way with the “Golden Rule for Cows” in mind. “Do unto cows as you would have others do unto you, if you were a cow.” We do not give our cattle any antibiotics or synthetic hormones. They maintain good health with nutritious food, fresh air and sunshine, and natural herbal treatments, if necessary.
A1 Beta-Casein Free
All cattle consists of genetic property that determines the type of beta-casein protein they produce in their milk. Most modern dairy cows in America produce A1 beta-casein proteins. The original milk protein is called A2 and found mostly in heritage breeds. Scientists have determined that A1 beta casein, at position 67, can break down in our stomachs to produce a casamorphin called BCM7. This is a powerful opioid with narcotic properties. Scientists have linked A1 beta casein in milk to heart disease, type 1 diabetes, autism, schizophrenia, some milk intolerance and autoimmune diseases. A2 beta-casein proteins have been determined to not produce BCM7. Because of this, New Zealand now requires all commercial bulls used for breeding to be A2. Our cows have all been genetically tested by a certified lab and confirmed that they only produce A2 beta-casein proteins in their milk.
100% Naturally Grassfed
People everywhere are becoming aware of the benefits of grassfed meats and airy products. Scientists have concluded that whole milk from 100% grassfed cows is significantly higher in vitamins A, D and K2 beta carotene and omega 3 fatty acids (the healthy fat). Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is found to be up to five times higher. Studies have shown these to have anti-cancer effects and many other health benefits. Confinement cows and even pastured cows, when fed grain have these benefits reduced. By combining fresh air and sunshine with the quality grass our cattle graze, you can enjoy our healthy, nutritious milk products.
“Of or relating to a systme of farming that uses only organic materials for fertilizing and soil conditioning” – Merriam Websters Collegiate Dictionary
All of the feed for our cattle is produce in a natural sustainable way. We do not use any pesticides or herbicides on our grasses. This has been certified by an independent lab. We also do not use GMO seed for our pastures and hay. Natural fertilizers, such as ground fish, are used to produce healthy plant growth. This is the same way Squanto taught the Pilgrims in the colonial days. With biodynamic grass farming and natural animal care, our milk should be free of any harmful chemicals.
Most diary plants flash-pasteurize their milk with high temperatures. Many milk companies, even organic ones, ultra-pasteurize their milk to 280 degrees F. This creates a tremendous shelf life, but seems to destroy much of the good in the milk. We use old-fashioned methods of low-temperature batch pasteurization so that we can sell you milk that is fresh, real and clean possible.
Unlike most other milk products sold, our milk is not homogenized. We have chosen not to alter the milk with homogenization and keep it the way it was intended to be. We hope you enjoy your milk the old-fashioned way where the cream rises to the top.
Our milk is pasteurized and bottled right on the farm soon after it is produced. We work hard to implement clean and sanitary practices throughout our farm and bottling facility. Clean, fresh, natural – what more could you want?
Products We Sell:
Yogurt and milk.
Who Do We Support:
15 healthy cows, the Zaiger family; 4 children
East of Athens, in Marathon County, Joseph Zaiger's herd of about 40 cows produces a type of milk that could shake up the dairy industry.
It's like conventional milk but doesn't have a beta-casein protein that some studies have said makes milk less digestible, almost intolerable, for a large number of people. That is different from the condition known as lactose intolerance, which Zaiger's milk doesn't help.
The technical term is "A1 beta-casein free," meaning the milk from Zaiger's Clover Meadows farm lacks that particular protein found in most milk.
This isn't genetic modification; rather it's a process of breeding cows with the desired trait or finding them in a regular herd.
In the U.S., there aren't many dairy farms where all the cows produce A1-free milk, yet the practice is popular in Australia where sales have outstripped organic milk.
Clover Meadows might be the only Wisconsin dairy farm that's focused on A1-free, according to some experts who have been in the dairy industry for decades.
It's so new here, most people haven't even heard of it, said Blair Sawall, a dairy farmer from Clintonville.
Sawall said he might build a herd of cows that produces A1-free milk, should the U.S. market for it gain much traction.
"Like anything else, the first guys who get in on something are the ones who are going to profit," he said.
Up to about 40% of the cows in a typical U.S. dairy herd are A1-free, according to some estimates, although only a few farms do much to capitalize on it.
Zaiger says his cows have been genetically tested to confirm they have the
desired trait. The farm's milk is sold through Trust Local Foods, near Appleton, which markets it to stores in Green Bay, Appleton, Fond du Lac, Ripon, Kohler and Grafton.
Trust Local Foods handles 40 cases of Zaiger's milk a week, with six half-gallon bottles to a case. One store, in Appleton, sells the milk for $5.50 a half gallon including a $2 deposit for the glass bottle.
A2 Helps Digestion Issues
The milk, sometimes called "A2" because it contains the A2 beta-casein protein but not A1, is popular with people who have milk digestion issues, said Trust Local Foods founder Fred Depies.
"I don't think A2 is a huge market at this point, but we are seeing growth," Depies said.
Zaiger's milk isn't homogenized, and the flavor is richer and more like the milk from years ago, according to Depies.
"Once we get people to taste it, the milk pretty much sells itself," he said.
Recently, the a2 Milk Co., of Australia, entered the U.S. market through a handful of American farms, including a large operation in Nebraska.
The a2 brand is available in California and Colorado, according to the company whose U.S. headquarters are in Boulder, Colo.
The company's milk isn't yet available in Wisconsin, said Blake Waltrip, CEO of the U.S. operations.
"We are looking at all of the (U.S.) markets. But my goal, from a strategic standpoint, is to get the formula right for connecting with consumers in California first, and then expand on a national basis," Waltrip said.
The Australian company was founded in 2000 by a New Zealand scientist and a wealthy farm owner. The company says its products are now sold in every major grocery chain in Australia.
Waltrip said the farms that supply a2 Milk Co. with milk receive a significant premium in the price compared with conventional milk, although he declined to specify the amount.
Lower Sales, Lower Profits
A higher milk price, and increased milk sales, would be welcomed by U.S. dairy farmers struggling to remain profitable.
Sales of conventional drinking milk have been plummeting for years to some of the lowest levels since the early 1980s.
Changing consumer habits, more drink choices and a lack of dairy product innovation are behind the steady decline in milk sales, according to the industry.
Through A1-free milk, Waltrip said, "we feel strongly that we can bring consumers back to milk. The premium milk category is a growth area in the industry."
Many health claims have been made about A1-free, with some advocates saying the A1 protein in conventional milk has been linked to diabetes, autism and even schizophrenia.
However, a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found no definitive evidence that the A1 protein has an adverse effect on people.
Consumers should be skeptical of the health-benefit claims, said John Lucey, a professor of food science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and director of the Center for Dairy Research.
One thing that A1-free won't help with, Lucey said, is lactose intolerance, a condition in which the body has difficulty with lactose, a sugar found in milk.
Still, some in the dairy industry are hopeful that A1-free will find a niche in the U.S. as it has in Australia.
It could be a successful business model for American farms — including sales of A1-free products overseas, said Pete Hardin, publisher of The Milkweed, a dairy industry magazine in Brooklyn, Wis.
"I feel very strongly that A2 is the future for the dairy industry," said Hardin, a shareholder in the a2 Milk Co.
The dairy industry contributes about $43 billion a year to Wisconsin's economy, according to state figures.
Currently, however, farmers are struggling with a farm-milk price that's so low they are losing money.
Zaiger doesn't expect to get rich from A1-free, but it helps that he bottles his own milk produced from grass-fed cows that aren't treated with growth hormones or antibiotics. He also sells yogurt made from his A1-free milk.
Zaiger doesn't envision milking hundreds of cows.
"I would like to keep our farm about this size. It works nicely for our family," he said.
"We wanted a product that people really couldn't get anywhere else," he said about A1-free in his area.
Increasingly, consumers are craving specialty dairy products, said Mark Kastel, co-founder of the Cornucopia Institute, based in Cornucopia.
"This is the cutting edge of a trend," Kastel said about A1-free products.