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General Product Questions

Where can I buy Maple Hill 100% grass-fed organic dairy products?


We’re pleased to say that we now have a wide national distribution. In addition to the many wonderful independent retailers who have supported Maple Hill from the beginning, we are now also found at Whole Foods Markets, Wegmans, Natural Grocers / Vitamin Cottage, Amazon Fresh, Stop & Shop, Shaw’s, Albertsons, Safeway, Jewel-Osco and many more chain and independent retailers —bringing our organic 100% grass-fed whole milk dairy products to every type of consumer across the nation. To find the store nearest to you click find stores on the store finder.uestion go to app settings and press "Manage Questions" button.




What is ultra-pasteurization?


Our Whole Milk , 2% Milk and Chocolate Milk are Ultra-pasteurized. Ultra-pasteurization (UP) is the process we use to ensure our milk can be safely distributed and will not spoil on the shelf. The UP process heats milk to a higher temperature than the standard pasteurization process.




What is homogenization?


Homogenization is the mechanical process of dispersing milk fat within body of milk (essentially shaking it) to create a uniform consistency. It’s a standard dairy processing procedure in the US and is regulated by the USDA. This process doesn’t affect the nutritional qualities of the milk




Are your products RbGH [rBST]-free?


PCO & Organic certified dairy products prohibit the use of RbHG [rBST]. Our cows are not treated with RbGH [rBST].




Are your products organic?


Yes, all of our products are certified USDA and PCO organic.




Are your products antibiotic free?


Yes, the milk in our products do not contain any antibiotics.




Are any of your products lactose free?


None of our products are lactose free. Our cheese, like other aged cheeses, contain very little Lactose, including our Stone Creek and One Year Cheddars. However, we do recommend that you consult with your health professional before including dairy products into your diet if you are lactose-intolerant.




Are all your products free from GMOs?


Yes, our products are free from GMOs. USDA certified organic products are by default free of GMOs.




Are your dairy products kosher?


The following products are OU Kosher:
Whole Milk Greek Yogurt, Whole Milk Kefir, Cream On Top Yogurt, Whole Milk, 2% Milk, Chocolate Milk




Are there any allergens in your manufacturing in your facilities?


Our products are manufactured in facilities that contain egg, tree nuts & coconut.





Farms

Who are Maple Hill farmers and where do they operate?


All of the farms in the Maple Hill Milkshed are small, family-owned-and-run operations, and all are located in New York state. As of 2018, our farms number just over 200, and that number is likely to continue growing.




What is holistic grazing or managed grazing?


Managed grazing means that the farmer plans, times, and moves their cows through many paddocks to where grass is the lushest and most optimal for milk production. The cows have lots of room to wander around, looking for the best plants to munch on, and they always have a fluffy grass meadow bed to lay down on to chew their cud at midday, or to sleep on at night. Because they don’t stay long enough to eat the grass down to the dirt, the manure is always gone before they are back to that paddock. The grass farmer is acutely aware of the condition of his land and cows, and works in a holistic manner to keep both healthy.




What farms does your milk come from?


As of 2018, our Milkshed has grown to over 200 100% grass-fed family farms. About half of our farms are Amish farms. All of our farms are small and independent, with herds ranging from 10 to 190 milk cows.




What breeds / kinds of cows live on your farms?


Our farms raise breeds of cows that traditionally thrive on a pasture-based diet, including Jersey cows, Jersey crosses, Devon crosses, Dutch Belts, and even some smaller Holsteins. Dharma Lea, our lead dairy farm also raises Ohonte cattle, a dairy breed they have developed over the last decade. Their Ohonte bulls, Rex, and his son, Reggie, are bred out to our other farms’ cows to spread excellent grass-fed genetics. The dairy cows on our farms tend to be much smaller than the cows on large commercial dairies (800-1100 lbs. compared to 1500-1800 lb. Holsteins), but they are efficient milk producers, and their milk has better “components” than most commercial dairy cows—meaning ounce for ounce, higher in protein and milkfat.




What are A1 and A2 cows? And what type of cows live on your farms?


A1 and A2 refers to the type of beta-casein—one type of protein found in cows’ milk (the other is whey). Most cows produce a combination of these two proteins. Some scientists and health practitioners believe that cow’s milk with a dominant or singular A2 protein type produce an easier-to-digest milk. There is a significant amount of science that suggests that after cows were domesticated, a natural genetic mutation changed the amino acids from proline to histidine based, and created a different beta-casein protein, now referred to as A1. A1-dominant cows are usually the larger European breeds such as Holsteins and Friesian, which are most common in the US dairy industry. We have not invested in any testing to determine if our cows are primarily A1 or A2 cows, or carry any percentage of A2 genes, although some of our farms are independently researching these options as they plan to breed to reach A2 genetics




Is the grass on your farms 100% organic?


Yes. The land our cows graze must be pesticide/herbicide and GMO free for three full years before it can be certified organic by an organic certification group, like the USDA Organic and PCO Organic, which also offers 100% grass-fed certification. Farmers must re-certify each year, with an inspector visiting each year to inspect land, animals and facilities.




Is 100% grass-fed dairy farming better for the environment?


Compared to confinement and industrial farming, 100% grass-fed organic dairy production is better for the environment because animals walking and feeding on grazing land create a positive environmental impact (on soils, manure management, water conservation and animal welfare) when compared with the large extensions of monoculture (corn and soybeans) needed to raise concentrated populations of animals and managing their waste.




How are cows on your farms treated?


Cows who live on 100% grass-fed organic dairy farms have very different lives than cows on large, industrial dairies. In general, their living conditions are more comfortable (pasture, sun, and grazing vs. being confined in a feeding barn). Most of the cows have names and the farmers know all of their animals. Our cows are fed the diet they are designed by nature to eat (grass!), as they are ruminant animals. They do not suffer from the maladies common in cows fed a grain or corn based diet, which is reflected in their good health, easy pregnancies, and longevity. It is very common for our cows to live 8-10 years compared to 3 or 4 for conventional dairy cows. Our average longevity is 6 years, because it includes losses at birth or very early age, which are reflected on the overall average, but this still means about twice as many pregnancies as a conventional cow. Unlike some other “100% grass-fed” dairy brands, our calves are never fed supplemental grain, soy, or corn, but enjoy a diet of mother’s milk (direct from their mother or from the milk tank, depending on the farm) until they start to graze for themselves.




Do Maple Hill farmers keep cows and calves together after birth?


Each year, Maple Hill farmers are moving towards keeping more calves with cows after birth. Currently over 45% of Maple Hill’s milk cows raise their calves (their own or as nurse cows) for variable amounts of time, often until they are weaned. The duration is very dependent on weather and behavior of the calves and cows. Even when not raising the calf by a cow, farmers let the calf stay with the mother for a few days (three to seven), and then they are fed with a bottle. We are working towards a definitive policy in this area, as we deem it very important to cow treatment and health. All of our calves drink milk throughout their young lives, never milk replacer.




Do grazing cows restore the land?


In our system, they do, for the most part. Under the correct stock ratio of cows per acre and the right rotation system soils under pasture do get restored over time, bringing the ecosystem back to a balance: soils regain the right physical, chemical and biological characteristics, animal and plant biodiversity are present. Water is conserved in quantity and quality, and green house gas emissions are reduced or even become negative, as the system sequesters carbon from the atmosphere into the restored soils.





Milk Questions

Why do you ultra-pasteurize your Whole Milk, 2% Milk and Chocolate Milk?


The choice to use ultra pasteurization (UP) allows us to distribute milk not only regionally, but nationally. We specifically want to reach areas that may not have access to 100% grass-fed, organic dairies due to climate. The longer shelf life of UP milk allows us to achieve this. The more consumers we can reach, the more 100% grass-fed dairy farmers can exist and transition to regenerative agriculture practices.




Is your milk fortified with vitamins?


Our Whole Milk is not fortified with any vitamins. Our 2% milk and chocolate milk are fortified with vitamin A & D as required by US law.





Kefir Questions

Your yogurts and kefir are not very sweet! Are they low in sugar?


We don’t add much sugar to our yogurt, as we believe any sweetener or flavor should subtly enhance the uniquely delicious flavor of our milk, not mask it. Our nutritional fact panels indicate added amounts of sugar for each product so that people can make better choices. Please check out our product pages for nutritional information.




What is kefir? How is it different from yogurt?


Pronounced ‘kur-feer’, Kefir is a fermented, cultured dairy beverage, often with a yogurt-like tartness and creamy consistency. Kefir is also loaded with probiotics to support a healthy digestive system. The main difference between our yogurt and kefir are the type of cultures we add to the milk to create the finished product. We incubate the culture in our Kefir for approximately eight (8) hours. We use the following cultures in our Kefir: Streptococcus thermophilus, L. delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus, L. rhamnosus, L. casei, L. lactis subsp. lactis, L. lactis subsp. lactis biovar. diacetylactis, Leuconostoc cremoris, Bifidobacterium lactis, L. lactis subsp. cremoris, L. acidophilus. Like all of our other products, we make every drop of our kefir exclusively with our third-party certified, 100% grass-fed whole milk from the Maple Hill Milkshed, our family of farms in New York State.




What cultures are added to your yogurt and kefir?


We use the following cultures for our Cream On Top yogurt: Bifidobacterium lactis, lactobacillus acidophilus, lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp., Bulgaricus and streptococcus thermophilus. We use the following cultures for our Whole Milk Greek yogurt: L. Delbrueckii subsp., Bulgaricus and S. thermophiles. We use the following cultures in our Whole Milk Kefir: Streptococcus thermophilus, L. delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus, L. rhamnosus, L. casei, L. lactis subsp. lactis, L. lactis subsp. lactis biovar. diacetylactis, Leuconostoc cremoris, Bifidobacterium lactis, L. lactis subsp. cremoris, L. acidophilus.




How can I use kefir?


While Kefir is traditionally consumed as a beverage, there are lots of other ways to enjoy it, including: Smoothie base—add your own tweaks (chia, greens, bananas) Pour over fresh fruit, granola, or warm fruit cobblers / crisps Freeze in molds for creamy popsicles Use as a 1-to-1 replacement for buttermilk in baking recipes Use as marinade base for lamb, chicken or beef





Yogurt Questions

Why is your cream on top yogurt so earthy tasting?


Maple Hill Cream On Top yogurt is zingy, tart, and with a distinct flavor. 100% grass-fed milk is a seasonal food. Unlike milk from conventional cows, grass-fed milk’s flavor changes throughout the year, with more noticeable grass notes in the spring and summer. When cows eat a variety of grasses and other plants, instead of grain or corn, there is a marked difference in the flavor and even the odor of the milk. In essence, you are tasting the grass that the cows munched on. In the summer the flavor is often more “earthy”, and in the winter months, the creamline layer is thicker due to the shift to eating mostly baleage and hay, and cow’s bodies natural inclination to put on weight.




Why do you add pectin and lemon juice to your Greek yogurt?


Our fruit preparation contains these ingredients, which is necessary in order for the fruit to blend properly with the yogurt. In essence, our fruit prep is comparable to jam, which is made with fruit, fruit pectin, and sugar. Lemon Juice is added to preserve the freshness of the fruit, which would otherwise break down and deteriorate once mixed with the yogurt




What is “Cream on Top” yogurt?


The “cream on top” of our yogurt is a layer of milk fat that rises as the yogurt cools and settles during the culturing process. This occurs naturally when milk is not homogenized or lightly homogenized. You may notice “clumps” of fat or a layer of yellow fat on top of your yogurt – this is the natural milk fat that is normally blended into the yogurt on fully homogenized products. Please try our Greek yogurt lines if you would prefer not to have this fat layer or clumps in your yogurt.




What do you do with the whey by-product from manufacturing your whole milk greek yogurt?


All of the whey from manufacturing our Whole Milk Greek yogurt goes to an anaerobic digester in the city of Cortland, NY, which in turn creates electricity for the city. We are committed to not creating or adding to the overproduction and disposal issue of the whey that has become problematic for some large yogurt producers.




What are the differences between your Greek Yogurt and Cream on Top yogurts?


Our Greek Yogurt is strained during the manufacturing process. As a result, it is thicker and more “spoonable.” We also use a different type of yogurt cultures in our Greek Yogurt. Our Cream On Top yogurt is tastefully tart, incredibly smooth, topped with a luxurious ‘creamline’ layer.




Your yogurts and kefir are not very sweet! Are they low in sugar?


We don’t add much sugar to our yogurt, as we believe any sweetener or flavor should subtly enhance the uniquely delicious flavor of our milk, not mask it. Our nutritional fact panels indicate added amounts of sugar for each product so that people can make better choices. Please check out our product pages for nutritional information.




What cultures are added to your yogurt and kefir?


We use the following cultures for our Cream On Top yogurt: Bifidobacterium lactis, lactobacillus acidophilus, lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp., Bulgaricus and streptococcus thermophilus. We use the following cultures for our Whole Milk Greek yogurt: L. Delbrueckii subsp., Bulgaricus and S. thermophiles. We use the following cultures in our Whole Milk Kefir: Streptococcus thermophilus, L. delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus, L. rhamnosus, L. casei, L. lactis subsp. lactis, L. lactis subsp. lactis biovar. diacetylactis, Leuconostoc cremoris, Bifidobacterium lactis, L. lactis subsp. cremoris, L. acidophilus.





Cows

When did dairy farmers start feeding grain to cows?


Corn, grain, silage, and even manufacturing by-products are fed to cows for one reason only: the bottom line. It’s cheaper and easier to feed larger amounts of cows with grain-based feeding, rather than manage the animals on pasture. Some dairy farmers also believe that a grain-based diet increases milk production of the cows. Prior to WWII, most US farms were small and diversified. Cattle were put out to pasture and supplemented with very little if any grain or corn, as their natural place in a diversified farm was to consume grass. When peacetime arrived, there were many products and technologies from the war effort “looking for a home.” The WWII munitions industry’s surplus of nitrogen—once used to create bombs—found its home in agriculture, setting off the first “green revolution”—that was not so green in the end. With cheap and available nitrogen (one of the three synthetic fertilizers part of the N-P-K triad we still see on lawn fertilizers today) farmers could grow grain and corn crops much more quickly, and the American farmer could now “feed the world”—as well as its cows. The focus and the race towards higher yield and ever increasing crop production began, and feeding cows this now inexpensive grain and corn did as well. A grain-based diet for dairy cows became the norm, and the prevailing opinion—for quite some time—has been that any dairy farmer who attempted to raise their dairy cows on grass only was crazy—it couldn’t be done, and that “you can’t make milk with just grass”. Well, we may be a little nutty at Maple Hill, but this opinion couldn’t be further from the truth. We’re adding more 100% grass-fed New York State dairy farms every few months. Many of these farms were very recently neither 100% grass-fed or organic, but have converted to third-party certified organic and 100% grass-fed with transition assistance from Maple Hill. The more farms we convert means we can make more delicious whole milk dairy products, and continue to build a farming system that keeps long-term wellness of the cows, farmers, and land at the forefront.




What is the housing for cows on Maple Hill farms like?


Maple Hill cows have access to a barn where they go to get milked or for shelter. They always have outdoor access, year round. During the grazing season, they are out on pasture all day long unless the weather is bad. Calves who are not with mom any longer live in a nursery of similar-aged calves, and are let out on pasture during the grazing season.




What happens to Maple Hill dairy cows once they cannot be milked anymore?


Cows on Maple Hill farms usually live twice as long, and often 3 times longer than industrial farms’ dairy cows. They are free to express their “cow-ness”, living a long, healthy life. Farmers love their cows and do their best to provide them with comfortable housing, dry bedding, nutrient dense pasture, and good laneways to get to pasture safely. Maple Hill cows tend to be affectionate and sweet. If an unhealthy, unproductive animal is kept in the herd, it becomes bad for the environment as a result of her carbon footprint: it uses environmental resources, produces greenhouse gases, and does not serve an ecological purpose. When a cow’s health begins to decline and she can no longer safely participate in the intense rotational grazing required on the farm to keep healthy, she is usually sold to a beef farm. We consider it respectful to the animal’s life to make sure no part of her is wasted. Similar to a family pet, we do not allow our cows to suffer in old age.




What happens to male calves?


Male calves are usually sold. Maple Hill has started efforts to connect with grass-fed beef producers to supply bull calves to be raised by them. These operations tend to be more humane than other beef operations, and we would prefer that all our male calves live in the most humane setting possible. Some male calves are raised as beef cattle on the farm or retained or sold as bulls, but very few stay in the dairy. Bulls can be a danger to the milking herd and to farmers and their families.




What do Maple Hill calves eat?


Calves nurse from their mothers, a nurse cow, or receive real, 100% grass-fed milk from the milk tank by bottle. We never use milk replacer. Older calves may begin to graze while still on milk as well.




What do 100% grass-fed cows eat in the winter?


During the winter, when pastures are dormant, our 100% grass-fed cows eat hay (dried grass) and baleage, (fermented, high-moisture grass). This feed is usually cut and stored by the farmer, coming from the same land the cows graze in season. Sometimes it can also be purchased from other certified farms. Our farmers may supplement with molasses or apple cider vinegar in the wintertime to maintain rumen health and provide extra minerals and nutrients for the cows. Our farms do not supplement our cows OR calves with grain, corn, soy, or other foods in the wintertime or during grazing season.




What are the main differences between conventional milk and 100% grass-fed organic milk? Why does it matter what the cows eat?


When dairy farmers choose to raise cows with managed grazing techniques, and when cows are fed the diet they evolved to eat, the end result is healthier animals, healthier farms, and healthier dairy products. Cows by definition are ruminants. They have a four-chambered stomach called the rumen, which is designed to digest grasses and other plants. When grain and corn are fed to cows, it immediately changes the pH of the rumen, making it more acidic. This can result in higher risk for infections, systematic inflammation, bloat, decreased immunity, and other health issues. Grain-fed cows on large, conventional dairies are sometimes given routine preventative antibiotics for these reasons. 100% grass-fed dairy farming requires less fossil fuels, because feed is not continuously grown, processed, and shipped to the farm. The cows’ food is already present on the farm, growing, and being eaten by the cows in a rotation that keeps the pastures fertile, healthy and lush. Growing corn and grain specifically for cattle feed uses huge amounts of resources, and sometimes chemical fertilizers and pesticides. On a 100% grass-fed operation manure is spread over the pastures by roaming cows, replacing nutrients lost by the growing plants, rather than forming in feedlot pools and causing detrimental runoff. 100% grass-fed dairy farming works best with small herds, which supports both local economies and family farms, who in turn are able to claim the highest premium price for their milk. Milk from grass-fed cows has a more favorable fatty acid profile than milk from conventionally-fed cows—it is higher in omega-3 fatty acids and lower in omega-6 fatty acids. Grass-fed cow’s milk has higher concentrations of the omega-3 fatty acids alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), ecosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosapentaenoic acid (DPA). In addition, grass-fed cow’s milk is higher in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). It also has about three times the amount of beta-carotene. 100% grass-fed organically produced dairy is a viable solution to the industrial dairy system, focusing on holistic care of both the animals and land, rather than an end goal of highest production and maximizing the bottom line at the cost of animal welfare and environmental concerns.




How long do Maple Hill cows live?


Our dairy cows live their whole life on our family farms. It is very common for our cows to live 8-10 years, sometimes to the age of 16 or 17, compared to 3 or 4 for conventional dairy cows. Our average longevity is 6 years, because it includes losses at birth or very early age, which are reflected on the overall average, but this still means about twice as many pregnancies as a conventional cow. They are only put down once showing signs of illness/old age, similar to a family pet.




Are Maple Hill cows artificially inseminated?


Around 25% of the cows in our herd are artificially inseminated, mostly for safety purposes, when it is not safe to have a bull around. Bulls can be a danger to the herd as well as to our farmers and their families. Farmers report 75% insemination by a bull. Cows are bred or inseminated when they are in heat, and naturally “want” to be bred. Insemination is a painless process for the cow.




Are cows supposed to eat only grass?


Cows originally ate only grass. When herds started to grow, grain was introduced to improve performance and accelerate growth. “When cattle are fed grain, productivity is increased, but fiber-deficient rations can disrupt physiological mechanisms,” said James B. Russell of the Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture in Ithaca, New York. More research shows that metabolism is enhanced in grass fed diets, which work as an anti-inflammatory, preventing disease and discomfort: “The anti-inflammatory n3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are enriched in grass finished beef (*cattle in general), while higher levels of n6 PUFAs in grain finished animals may promote inflammation and oxidative stress. […] Most importantly, blood cortisol levels strongly indicate that grass-fed animals may experience less stress than the grain-fed individuals.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27185157




How are cows on your farms treated?


Cows who live on 100% grass-fed organic dairy farms have very different lives than cows on large, industrial dairies. In general, their living conditions are more comfortable (pasture, sun, and grazing vs. being confined in a feeding barn). Most of the cows have names and the farmers know all of their animals. Our cows are fed the diet they are designed by nature to eat (grass!), as they are ruminant animals. They do not suffer from the maladies common in cows fed a grain or corn based diet, which is reflected in their good health, easy pregnancies, and longevity. It is very common for our cows to live 8-10 years compared to 3 or 4 for conventional dairy cows. Our average longevity is 6 years, because it includes losses at birth or very early age, which are reflected on the overall average, but this still means about twice as many pregnancies as a conventional cow. Unlike some other “100% grass-fed” dairy brands, our calves are never fed supplemental grain, soy, or corn, but enjoy a diet of mother’s milk (direct from their mother or from the milk tank, depending on the farm) until they start to graze for themselves.




Do Maple Hill farmers keep cows and calves together after birth?


Each year, Maple Hill farmers are moving towards keeping more calves with cows after birth. Currently over 45% of Maple Hill’s milk cows raise their calves (their own or as nurse cows) for variable amounts of time, often until they are weaned. The duration is very dependent on weather and behavior of the calves and cows. Even when not raising the calf by a cow, farmers let the calf stay with the mother for a few days (three to seven), and then they are fed with a bottle. We are working towards a definitive policy in this area, as we deem it very important to cow treatment and health. All of our calves drink milk throughout their young lives, never milk replacer.





Company

Where is Maple Hill Creamery located?


Our company headquarters are located in the village of Kinderhook, NY, though we work with team members across the country. All of our farmers are located in NY State.




Where can I buy Maple Hill 100% grass-fed organic dairy products?


We’re pleased to say that we now have a wide national distribution. In addition to the many wonderful independent retailers who have supported Maple Hill from the beginning, we are now also found at Whole Foods Markets, Wegmans, Natural Grocers / Vitamin Cottage, Amazon Fresh, Stop & Shop, Shaw’s, Albertsons, Safeway, Jewel-Osco and many more chain and independent retailers —bringing our organic 100% grass-fed whole milk dairy products to every type of consumer across the nation.




When and why was Maple Hill founded?


The short story: we’re organic grass-fed dairy farmers, turned yogurt makers.
The longer story spans twelve years of hard work and constant challenges. Many told us we were crazy to try and make milk with “just” grass, but we knew that what we were doing with our cows was the right thing. We made yogurt with our milk for our kids—and it turned out pretty good, so we began selling it in 2009, and founded Maple Hill Creamery. Over the past few years, we’ve grown from a completely family-run operation to a thriving manufacturer of nationally distributed whole milk dairy products. Although we’ve brought on production, sales, and marketing staff, everyone in the family still pitches in on a daily basis, and are key to decisions big and small.

Running a certified 100% grass-fed dairy production company means that we’re not solely focused on the bottom line—or having the most shelf space in the yogurt aisle. To us, business “success” is also defined by a company’s values and production practices. We believe that when we use milk from only certified organic, 100% grass-fed cows to make our products, we are supporting and growing a food system that is most beneficial to the land, the animals, and the farmers—and that it makes for the most delicious products around! You can read more about our story here.




How can I get Maple Hill in my store?


Maple Hill dairy products can be ordered through several national and numerous regional distributors. Please send us an email at sales@maplehillcreamery.com for more information.




Who are Maple Hill farmers and where do they operate?


All of the farms in the Maple Hill Milkshed are small, family-owned-and-run operations, and all are located in New York state. As of 2018, our farms number just over 200, and that number is likely to continue growing.





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