Do you use antibiotics or hormones on your cows?
Not a chance. We care for our cows the natural way ensuring healthy cows and perfect milk.
What do your cows eat?
During the summer we let our cows graze as much as possible. During the winter months we feed our cows dried pasture (alfalfa-grass more commonly called hay). We grow our hay organically in concert with a local farmer pesticide free. We also give our cows a small amount of sweet feed to make them happy!
How long does your milk last?
Our quick chilling and careful processing gives our milk an average fresh life of about 2.5 weeks. We are, however, required by New Mexico law to make the "best by" date stamp 5 days after we get it (even though not all raw milk is equal).
On warm days, we recommend you bring a cooler and ice pack to help you keep it cool on the way home. One benefit of real raw milk is when it gets too old it starts to go sour. Sour milk is the basis for probiotic products like yogurt, sour cream, and kefir. When store-bought pasturized milk gets too old it turns racid and putrid. Raw milk and pasteurized milk are very different.
Are your cows pastured and grass fed?
Our cows get to stretch their legs in a pasture and they love it! We have some mesquite mounds they particularly enjoy climbing and standing on. While we would love for them to be able to graze in their pasture year round, it is just not realistic in the southern New Mexico desert land. In spite of what you might have heard or seen on other websites, year-round pasture grazing is not normal or natural for dairy cattle. The most natural way is to have live grass available during the summer and dried grass during the winter--the way it is usually found in nature. We go beyond that by cutting and drying our hay at its peak nutrient level during the summer and preserving it for winter. This ensures our cows get the best nature can offer.
Is raw milk dangerous?
People have been drinking raw milk since the beginning of mankind. If it were inherently dangerous, it would have been discontinued long ago. Pastuerization was only introduced in the late 1800's as a temporary solution until filthy urban dairies could find a way to produce cleaner milk. It just became easier to keep it going to cover up dirty milk. That to us, is a gross fact. Did you know many of the dairies you see from I25 here in New Mexico filter their milk 4 times before bottling it? We'd rather work our hardest and be very meticulous to ensure only clean pure milk goes into the milk bottle we drink from.
Like all unprocessed foods, it is in the handling that problems ensue. Food contaminations do happen. Some people are afraid to consume raw milk but have no problem eating raw fruits, nuts, and vegetables. Some of that fear has been created and perpetuated by the commercial dairy industry to legitimize their processed products. However, when the hard evidence is analyzed raw milk comes out looking amazingly good. According to a 2003 study by the USDA/FDA/CDC you are 10 times more likely to get sick from eating store-bought deli meats than raw milk. They conclude there is less than a 100th of 1% chance of getting sick from drinking properly handled raw milk. More info
At Saddle Back Ranch our milk is Grade A certified by the State of New Mexico, which involves careful regulation and expectations for cleanliness. We are regularly inspected for milk quality, cleanliness, and pathogens. Our last lab test indicated our milk had no coliforms whatsoever. Coliforms are an "indicator" bacteria that is linked to contamination because they are everywhere in our environment. Almost all natural food contains some coliforms (that is normal and expected) and we are allowed up to 50 (cfu/ml) in raw milk. We had ZERO! We have invested in high quality (and expensive) equipment and use the strictest practices in our processing. Our cows’ udders are thoroughly cleaned and sterilized for each milking session twice. We use an iodine solution similar to what doctors use to prepare skin for surgery. (In fact, we use several of pairs of medical grade disposable gloves each time as well.) Our milking machine and equipment are thoroughly cleaned and sterilized for each use. We firmly believe our milk is cleaner than the air you breathe. Each batch is bottled and cooled from 104 degrees to 32 degrees using a high performance blast chiller. We hold the milk just above freezing until you get it--that is why it lasts so long. We care about what we are doing and spend extra time carefully completing each step to ensure the highest quality of milk possible for you - and for us. We drink it, too!
My milk has a slightly funny flavor, is it ok?
If your milk is fairly fresh it should taste amazing. However, because we let our cows graze it is possible fresh milk could have a slightly funny flavor. This happens when the cows eat strong flavored weeds. Yes it is true. It is fine to drink if the extra flavor doesn't bother you. If it does bother you, we would be glad to exchange your milk with some more. Just let us know.
If your milk is at the end of its fresh life it will start to go sour. Sour milk is not dangerous but is the basis for yogurt, sour cream, kefir, etc. It will continue to get more sour though and at some point you won't want it anymore. When store-bought pasteurized milk gets too old it turns rancid and putrid and IS dangerous. Raw milk and pasteurized milk are very different.
Does the cream in your milk rise to the top?
Yes. Shake before drinking or take the cream off and use it for whipped cream, butter, ice cream, etc.
Is your milk organic?
Everything we do is all natural but we are not certified organic yet. We are working to get our fields organic certified as well as everything else. It is a lengthy process.
Do you use AI (artificial insemination) on your cows?
We use our own bulls for breeding.