Sweeter by a Mile

Source: Andrew Flack

Roger, Michelle and Emily Benrud raise organic dairy cattle in Goodhue, Minnesota. Their cows are certified organic, which means they eat only organic grass and pasture and receive no growth hormones or antibiotics.

Twice a day, every day, the Benruds milk their 80 cows in an automated “milking parlor.” The milk is then transported by refrigerated tanker to artisan butter and cheese makers who bring their delicious products to market bearing the PastureLand brand.

“Our cows live outside year round and are certainly healthier than cows that live in confinement,” says Michelle, “and are probably happier, too. The grass and hay we feed them is all organic and grown without dumping a lot of chemicals on it, and I think the milk is sweeter as a result.”

This time of year the Benruds are getting ready for new additions to the herd. Calving starts in March and this spring some 68 calves are expected. Cows can have their first calves at two years, and begin milking after that.

“Grazing cattle is an approach that’s also well-suited to having children participate since there isn’t a lot of machinery around or chemicals added to our environment,” says Michelle. Emily loves to go out with her mom and dad to round up the cattle for milking.

And what is Michelle’s favorite part of organic farming? “Being out on the land and working with the seasons; seeing all the growth that comes in summer and being part of that. Emily told me just yesterday she’s sick of winter and ready for spring.”

Managing Editor, Andrew Flack has written for many publications, including Midwest Home & Design, where he also served as editor for a year, Taos Magazine, Minnesota Monthly, Facilities Management Journal, and Urban Land.