“Winter feeding conventional milking cows was always a complicated science for me at college, balancing intake with maintenance of production and pregnancy, calculating deficiencies and supplementing accordingly. Feeding milking cows on a Biodynamic farm is completely different. We can really only produce milk from what we grow for the cows. The bulk is hay, giving the milk an untainted taste, some oats for energy and beans for protein, and that’s it! Choosing the breed is crucial: one that can support itself on this ration. For the 6 months of summer grazing at Plaw Hatch, the cows flourish on grass alone. In my early years here we had problems with fertility in winter, retained placentas, poor coats, general unthrifityness, and taints in the milk. This was a direct result of the poor quality forage we produced which ultimately was a result of poor pastures. Consulting vets suggested among other things, to implant boluses with calcium cobalt and selenium to slow-release over time. We tried a few cows - poor things - with no results to suggest improvements. We tried feeding expensive molasses-based mineral licks which the cows seem to eat at an alarming rate, but still no improvement (the left-over buckets were the most useful part!).
I then discovered Simon’s seaweed, with its well balanced analysis of just about every mineral and trace element in perfect proportions.
I remember offering some in my hand to a cow that licked it clean of every granule before the next cow picked up the scent. So we tried it, and to this day we still routinely feed Seagreens to all the milking cows (and sows) during the winter and all the problems of fertility and poor coats etc., have gone.
I tried to do comparative blood tests before and after, but the results were not conclusive (probably over too short a time period), so I have relied instead on the longer term external effects.
I think the main point for me was to understand the function of seaweed in its natural environment, and the detailed balance it provides to correct subtle changes in the cow’s constitution. We feed approximately 5 grams per day per cow - and I have about the same!”
Tom Ventham, Dairyman, Plaw Hatch Farm, West Sussex, England (2008). Plaw Hatch is a Biodynamic® and Organic farm producing some of the country’s finest cheeses.