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Quality Soil Makes Quality Dairy

At Maple Hill, we are obsessive about grass. That might sound surprising at first– why are we obsessive about grass if we’re in the business of dairy? That answer lies in the grass-fed difference. 


What 100% grass-fed means


Raising our cows on a 100% grass-fed diet means we absolutely never supplement their feed with grains or corn. A common practice in the conventional milk industry, adding grain or corn filler to cattle feed can help augment dairy yield, makes the farm business more stable and profitable, and comes with far more predictability when it comes to raising cows. While there is a benefit to the big industrial dairies, there is a cost to the cows, and the people who drink the milk. It's also less environmentally friendly. 


Farming 100% grass-fed cows relies on a technique called managed grazing, or holistic grazing, which 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.


100% grass-fed is harder. So why do it?


Our farmers are deeply committed to 100% grass-fed milk. It means more unpredictability, more effort, and less milk yield per cow. So why go through the difficulty, risk, and energy? Because we believe the hardest thing to do is usually the right thing to do. Farming 100% grass-fed dairy is better for the land, better for the animal, and better for the milk. Cows weren’t meant to be endless milk machines. The land wasn’t meant to build factory farms on. And our milk was not meant to be filled with anything but nutrition from the animal and the food they eat. 


The dairy cows on our farms tend to be 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. 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. 


Premium dairy comes from a premium diet. A premium diet comes from premium soil.


The link between soil health, grass health, animal health, and milk quality is deeply rooted and very closely connected. By farming the soil first, we’re using regenerative practices to replenish the earth and also make the best possible grass for our cows. It’s premium grass feed, which makes for premium dairy. Regenerative dairy farming can sometimes feel like a complicated set of rules to follow, but in many ways, it’s common sense. We just try to do things that nature would do on its own if we weren’t around.


Our dairy farmers are truly grass farmers, creating the healthiest feed for our cows because we know that the healthiest, cleanest grass feed makes the most creamy, delicious, nourishing milk. It’s a difference that you can taste on your own, whenever you try a glass. In fact, based on when the milk was produced, a carton of Maple Hill milk can have the faintest variation in taste– the grass changes with the seasons, so our milk does too. It sounds obvious when we say it, doesn’t it?


When we say premium, it can sound like we fly in the highest quality grass from all over the world to feed our herds. But the highest quality grass for our herds is right under their noses– literally! It’s the grass they’re raised on, and the grass they help grow by aerating, fertilizing, and mineralizing the soil as they roam on pasture. In our system, grazing restores the land. 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 greenhouse gas emissions are reduced or even become negative, as the system sequesters carbon from the atmosphere into the restored soils. So, by doing dairy this way, we aren’t using up earth resources, but regenerating them so they provide for us over and over again.


At the end of the day, healthy, nutrient-dense soil is the reason we can make such creamy, delicious, nutrient-dense dairy. Grass is the vessel that transmits all the good stuff that lives in healthy soil into our cows, and it’s good stuff you can taste.



At Maple Hill, we’ve been committed to regenerative practices since 2009 because we know the highest quality dairy begins with the health of soil, grass, and cows. We believe that 100% grass-fed organic dairy farming done right is the pinnacle of organic, nourishes families with the best nutrition, and leaves the earth better than we found it. We are proud to be selected as a USDA Climate Smart Partner — supporting the production of climate smart commodities throughout the United States. 


Our 100% Grass-fed Organic dairy products include: 100% grass-fed whole milk, 100% grass-fed 2% reduced fat milk, 100% grass-fed butter (salted and unsalted), 100% grass-fed kefir (plain, vanilla, and strawberry), 100% grass-fed greek yogurt (plain and vanilla bean), and 100% grass-fed cream-on-top yogurt (plain and vanilla). 

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