Better Cheese

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One of my challenges since getting Gracie, our Jersey cow, is figuring out how much and what to feed her. I can’t say I’ve figured it out. In fact, I know I haven’t. This picture shows that I’m on the right track.

The cheese on the left was made 3 days ago, after 2 weeks of improving the amount and quality of alfalfa and orchard grass Gracie ate. The cheese on the right is how my cheese has been for most of my weeks with her: half the size I would expect from an equal quantity of milk and brittle from lack of cream.

She gave birth and gave lots of good quality milk and cream, but that lasted only a few weeks. Then the milk dropped in both quantity and quality. Everything I made, from cheese to kefir, turned out with half the volume and not creamy or smooth. This was discouraging and frustrating, to say the least. Not only because things I knew to do like old hat (my favorite cheeses) were simply not cooperating time after time after time, but because I worried that I was failing Gracie. To her credit, she’s a patient soul (though she still kicks during milking) and keeps feeding her baby and feeding us while we figure out how best to feed her.

I am very curious if you have seen differences in your milk or dairy foods depending on what and how much your cow is eating? Please share!

I’m adding this post to this week’s Tuesday Twister. Please head over there to share what you’ve been up to in your GNOWFGLINS kitchen lately.

This post may contain affiliate links. We only recommend products and services we wholeheartedly endorse. Thank you for supporting Traditional Cooking School by GNOWFGLINS with your purchases. Our family thanks you!

Comments

  1. says

    Wow. That gorgeous cheese reaffirms my opinion that my cheese stinks. I need help. I think I will need to sign up for your classes ’cause my book is getting me only half way there. It was the one thing you cover in your classes that my husband is pretty sure I haven’t mastered, though he is more optomistic about my cheese than I am. Your cheese is simply beautiful! Your Maker is surely proud!

    • says

      Oh, Melissa — that is sweet! I am sure I could learn a thing or two from you. I’d love for you to join us! BTW, it is pretty cool that your husband has such faith in you. :)

  2. Amy says

    I am in awe, Wardee! I have never attempted a hard cheese before; yours look wonderful, both of them! I will say, I never really noticed a difference, but it’s been maybe 10 years since we had a milk cow. I have heard people say it does make a diff, though – for example, if they eat kosha (sp??) weed, it doesn’t taste so good (even though it’s a good quality feed for them). Also, when we had a milk cow, we were feeding sweet feed (had corn in it) & hay, so maybe that helped? I will be able to tell you more this summer, after our milk-cow-to-be calves & I start running a “mini-dairy” again, lol! And we only have about an acre to run her on, so I think we are going to have to feed hay (at least?). I’m interested in what others say on this…

  3. Toni says

    Wardee,

    when you said “brittle from lack of cream”, and the differences in the pic. really drives it home as to what all the fat-free/skim/2% milk/products does to ones body. It’s nice to have a visual. And to think that your cheese on the right really isn’t even fat free or skim.

    I wish more people would be able to grasp how much we do need good fats in our diet. And it has challenged me to think of ways to incorporate even more in our diets. Lately, I’m trying figure out how to incorporate more coconut oil beside just cooking with it.

  4. Julie Rosin says

    I also have several Jersey milk cows. My cows produce wonderful large amounts of cream, but 2 years ago the cream production dropped to almost nothing. So I called Dr Paul Dettloff and he told me that they were getting hay and grass that was too rich, he said to feed them some really old junk hay, for fiber and Gerald Fry told me the same. It worked, so dairy cows do not need the best hay and they don’t do well on straight Alfalfa, in fact Gerald says don’t feed them any.
    J

  5. KristinaD says

    We put coconut oil on our baked potatoes – half of my family is dairy allergic so we can’t use butter and the other half is corn allergic so getting corn-free butter is very difficult! A lot of farmers use sweet feed but it does have corn and your milk will be contaminated with corn. Avoiding corn is difficult enough without specifically adding it in!

    • says

      Adrienne — There are so many variables! Depending on what the pasture is, you may or may not have to supplement with good hay. I would expect to do so, myself. We have 5-1/2 acres and not very good pasture (yet) and supplement with good hay for more than half the year for goats or cow.

      I think lots of people keep a cow on 1 acre. :)

  6. says

    Hi! We milk were milking 5 Jerseys but just dried them up because they are going to calf soon. It is common to only get 2 to 3 gallons a day if you are not doing grain. We don’t do grain but we give them the best Alfalfa test hay with the TDN (total disolved nutrients) of 50. Protein content should be at least 22. (dairy quality and high protein) we also supplement beet pulp and one cup of Barley and we have it soak the night before with 2oz. of Apple Cider Vinegar, per cow. We have SUPER creamy milk. But we only get about 3 gl.s a day.
    Also how old is the cow? They don’t produce the best until around 3 or 4 years. They also need lots of water, so if you live where it’s cold they won’t drink as much as, so if you warm of the water they will drink more and give more milk.
    Hope this helps!

    • says

      Audrey — Yes, thank you! Your comments are very helpful. Our cow is a first freshener, just 2 years old. We figured out that she’s holding back her milk for the calf.

      For almost a week, I’ve been milking her out as much as I can (2 gallons), then putting the calf on to stimulate let-down, then pulling the calf off, then milking again. Shockingly, I get more than another gallon of milk — and it is sooooo creamy! The cream line is a good 4″ in a gallon jar.

      I’ve been adding some barley and molasses along with alfalfa at milking time, and all her minerals. I think she’s doing well… Thanks for the help!

  7. Leslie says

    This was such an interesting blog post! Not only in terms of cows, but also humans! If what the cow eats affects it’s milk content so much, it really hits home how important it is for us human mothers to eat well while nursing. Gives me lots and lots to think about!

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