My name is Cody Rasmus, Farm Liaison for Kalona Farms, the company that procures milk for Kalona SuperNatural products. Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with a couple of our producers–Merle and Ryan Borntrager–a father and son team. Both men have been milking cows and farming their whole lives. In this producer spotlight we feature Merle’s story. Merle started milking with his father as a young boy and then moved to his current farm over two decades ago. His family transitioned to organic when they began shipping milk to Farmers Creamery in 2006.
Producer Spotlight: Life on the Farm
Merle and the rest of the family wake up before the sun and start milking. This is the only way of life that Merle has ever known and he enjoys it! His only son, Ryan, has taken interest in milking and farming as well. Merle is pleased that Ryan decided to follow in his footsteps and farm. With another family member helping full time it allows Merle to teach Ryan how to sustain the small, family farm. As might be expected, Merle says Ryan is a little more ambitious about growth and opportunities than he is. They keep each other in check when it comes to new ideas. I asked Merle why he enjoys milking and farming so much. He said the main thing is that the whole family is involved. Even his youngest daughter, at the age of 5, is out helping with milking duties and chores. He said she gets to take care of the baby calves and bottle feed them. Another reason Merle enjoys this lifestyle is because he is his own boss. This allows him flexibility with his job. Finally, he likes the job security. The cows and land will always be there if properly cared for.
The Cows and Farmland
Merle is farming ground that has been in his family for years, as well as new ground that they rent. The new ground allows for more opportunities and growth. The family ground surrounds their home, which makes it more convenient for their traditional lifestyle.
The Borntragers raise Holstein Dairy cows. He has milked Holsteins most of his life and does not see himself ever milking anything different. They calve mainly from early fall all the way until either April or May. The Borntragers have good luck with the cows birthing on their own, however there are times that the family has to assist during the process.Their main goal is to give both mom and baby the best care!
A Borntragers’ Normal Day of Milking
The Borntrager family is typically up and in the barn by 4:30 am to prepare for milking. That was very impressive to me! Merle does a lot of the milking duties while Ryan starts feeding the cows stored hay. The other 7 family members help out with whatever is needed to get the job done. Even the youngest daughter helps out! They carry all of the milk to the bulk tank with 5 gallon vacuum sealed pails! Needless to say, they have to make several trips! On the Borntrager farm, the milking is all done in a tie stall barn, not a parlor. They milk one group of cows, release them and bring in the next group. This whole process takes the family approximately 2 ½ to 3 hours to complete. Then, at 4:30 pm the family starts this whole process over again! They enjoy doing it and can’t imagine doing anything else!
This quarter’s employee spotlight is Mindy! Learn more about her below!
One of the most wonderful scenes in Kalona, Iowa, is the sight of dairy cows grazing on beautiful green pastures. Kalona is home to many Amish organic dairy farms, so these picturesque views are a common site. On these farms, the cows eat a significant portion of their daily ration from pasture. Our producers know that cows do best when they can harvest their own feed from the pastures around them, so many of them exceed the 120 day minimum.
Though these views are picturesque, a grass-based dairy farm is more than just good looks. Studies have shown that milk that comes from cows on grass has proven to be more healthy due to the higher CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) content and a more balanced Omega 6:3 ratio. Other than the human health benefits, there is also a positive environmental benefit that can’t be overlooked. Pasture that is grazed with normal grass recovery times can mitigate the development and increase in organic matter. Organic matter that breaks down in a biological agricultural system (like what an organic dairy farm tends to be) leads to the formation of humus, a component of topsoil. Humus contributes to soil structural stability, water-holding capacity and nutrient availability. Humus has the potential to hold up to 20 times its weight in water. A 1% increase of humus in topsoil can result in a four-fold increase in water-holding capacity. Adequate topsoil and humus insulate these organic dairy farms against the extreme effects of drought, because moisture is stored in the soil so the roots can access it if needed.
Finally, topsoil and humus help manage excess water that runs into the soil. Instead of running off, these items help keep floods at bay. These pastures provide a slowing effect to a hard rain, helping keep the topsoil on the cropland in place instead of running off. Diverse pastures also provide habitat for beneficial insects that balance insect attacks on crops.
As you can see, pasture is a very helpful addition to any farm and an essential tool for farmers looking to diversify their operation. This milk is not only healthy, but it is wonderful for the environment.
Kalona SuperNatural in excited to introduce two new flavors of organic Kalona SuperNatural half & half, French Vanilla and English Toffee! They work with small, sustainable family farms to provide delicious, certified organic half & half from pasture-grazed cows. The fresh cream and milk are gently processed so we can deliver your half & half in the most natural state possible. All you have to do is shake well and enjoy with your coffee!
- Grade A
- No Stabilizers
- Made with Fair Trade Cane Sugar
The practice of using heat to extend the life of food dates to the Middle Ages, when wine and beer were heated to prevent them from souring. Thus, when Louis Pasteur developed the process of pasteurization in 1864, his goal was to lengthen the life of his favorite wine. Once it was discovered that pasteurizing milk not only lengthened its shelf life, but also destroyed deadly microorganisms that spread diseases, pasteurizing milk became a widespread practice in Europe, and slowly caught on in the U.S.
Reformers pushed for pasteurization in the U.S. in response to a growing public health crisis in the early 20th century: the spread of infectious diseases through unsafe “slop milk” produced in urban dairies that were located next to whiskey distilleries. In 1908, Chicago was the first city to require that all milk sold within its limits be pasteurized, and in 1924, the U.S. Public Health Service developed the Standard Milk Ordinance to assist states with voluntary pasteurization programs. By the late 1940s, all milk sold in the U.S. was required by law to be pasteurized. Historians agree that pasteurizing milk led to a significant decline in the spread of infectious diseases and the infant mortality rate in urban areas.
Pasteurization affects the taste and quality of milk in different ways. Learn more below!
Well, it’s spring time and you know what that means…fresh pasture! The water cooler buzz this time of year is all about “the flush.” This phrase refers to the time of the year when milk volumes, temporarily, shoot through the roof. Due to environmental factors, the flush happens at slightly different times each year. Here in Iowa, the flush is happening now!
What causes the flush?
Two things drive the increase in milk supply during the flush:
- Cows start feeding on lush, green grass.
- Cows also “freshen” or give birth to calves in the spring.
Watch the video below to see cows, from one of the local Amish farms we work with, grazing on fresh pasture for the first time in 2016!
This quarter’s employee spotlight is Sharon! Learn more about her below!
Here at Kalona Organics our employees are of the utmost importance. This month our employee spotlight is Sara. Learn more about her below!
Kalona Organics®, the distributor of Kalona SuperNatural™ organic dairy products, is celebrating their 10th anniversary. For over 10 years, Kalona Organics has been developing brands that expand markets in the natural and organic communities. Kalona Organics was formed in 2005 as a way to bring premium, natural and organic products to market. The company currently provides sales and marketing support for the Kalona SuperNatural™ brand.
“Over the past ten years we’ve experienced consistent and steady growth within the company and the Kalona SuperNatural brand in particular,” says Mindy Seiffert, Director of Marketing for Kalona Organics. “In fact, last year sales for Kalona SuperNatural products were up 40%.”
To celebrate this momentous occasion, Kalona Organics invites the public to a free open house on Thursday, September 24, 2015, from 2-5 pm. Guests will enjoy facility tours, pasture walks, a cooking demonstration, an educational workshop, and more! Also, Check Kurt Friese from Devotay Restaurant in Iowa City will be speaking at 4 pm.
When: Thursday, September 24, 2015, 2 – 5 p.m.
2-4 pm- Facility tours, pasture walks, cooking and educational session
4 pm- Program presented by Chef Kurt Friese
4:30 pm- Prize drawing
Where: Frytown Properties, 5195 Farmers Ave, Kalona, IA 52247
Kalona OrganicsTM, makers of the Kalona SuperNaturalTM brand, and Slipstream Organics are teaming up to support the 42nd Annual RAGBRAI ride across Iowa. These two local companies are showcasing their products and collaborating to sell yogurt parfaits for riders and families during the duration of RAGBRAI.
The parfaits feature Kalona SuperNaturalTM Organic 2% Vanilla Cream-Top Yogurt. High in protein and low in sugar, this organic yogurt is produced with milk from grass-fed cows from local and sustainable farms. The toppings to the parfait include organic granola from Slipstream Organics and Midwest-sourced, antioxidant loaded blueberries. The granola is expertly crafted and seasoned, chock full of protein. Combined, this yogurt parfait is perfect for every cyclist after a long day of riding.
“We are extremely excited to showcase our granola with Kalona SuperNaturalTM organic yogurt,” says Michael Winnike, Slipstream Organics CEO. “Working alongside other local organic companies always produces a great camaraderie. We are happy to be able to provide healthy, organic snacks for the cyclists so they can keep up their endurance throughout the ride across Iowa.” Mindy Seiffert, Kalona OrganicsTM Director of Marketing adds, “This is a great opportunity to showcase Iowa-based organic agriculture and entrepreneurism to the thousands of RAGBRAI participants.”
You can find these yogurt parfaits as well as both Kalona OrganicsTM and Slipstream Organics alongside the RABGRAI route in the mornings for breakfast.
Kalona OrganicsTM is based in Kalona, Iowa, a small farming community in the heartland of America. Kalona works with small, sustainable family farms to provide delicious organic dairy products from pasture-grazed cows. Their products are minimally processed so they can deliver dairy foods in the most natural state possible. Kalona OrganicsTM products can be found at select stores in your area.
Slipstream Organics was born out of collaboration between Heidi Weiser, a pastry chef from Colorado, and Mike Winnike of Slipstream Cycling, a bike shop located in Fort Madison, Iowa. The goal at Slipstream Organics is to provide you and your family with healthy and delicious food choices as well as to support the environment and local economy by purchasing ingredients from local sources.