Probiotics key to multi-award winning Jersey Girl Organics brand of A2 milk

For more than 20 years now, fifth-generation farmers John Vosper and Liz Mackay have been running a fully certified organic dairy farm on the edge of Matamata. Cleavedale Farm is the birthplace of their multi-award-winning Jersey Girl Organics brand of A2 milk. Between 2018 and 2022, Jersey Girl Organics A2 Organic Milk won Dairy Gold Medals every consecutive year at the Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards, and the family farm continues to lead the country with its pure organic A2 Jersey milk.

“I’m using probiotics routinely over the herd to prevent mastitis from drying off and am also using it to help the cows recover after calving.”

A Jersey breeder and former school teacher, John is descended from a long line of Jersey cow farmers at Cleavedale Farm. His great-grandfather once milked by hand here; today, milking is via a rotary shed. What hasn’t changed is the family’s care and regard for their stock and for producing great-tasting milk.

After reading and hearing about the gut biome’s important role in human health, well-being and immunity, John started wondering whether the same science might be applicable to his cows. This is what started him down the road of trying out probiotics on the herd last year. “I began trying probiotics with my mastitis cows and was surprised at how quickly they got better.”

“Now, I’m using probiotics routinely over the herd to prevent mastitis from drying off and am also using it to help the cows recover after calving. It comes in a granulated form that you can mix with water and add to water troughs. For the clinical cows, it goes into a drench.”

Farmers who were using probiotics in their calf rearing were finding that the calves were in much better shape, says John.

At a recent farm discussion group, John says he talked to a couple of other farmers who were using probiotics in their calf rearing and were finding that the calves were also in much better shape as a result. “It has been on my radar in one way or another, so we’re also giving probiotics to our calves this autumn. Our supplier, Probiotic Revolution, has recently introduced a product specifically for calves. It’s a bit too early to assess the impact but we’re very interested to see how it goes.”

Jersey Girl Organics pasteurized milk supplies local farmers’ markets, specialty stores, cafes, a couple of supermarkets and a bakery. The family used to run their own small factory on the farm but found that it made more economic sense to outsource their processing. Kaipaki Dairies has been processing their milk since last June.

Jersey Girl Organics is also known for its natural yoghurt made from the same organic A2 Jersey milk. The yoghurt is pot-set and  minimally processed. John says they are currently working through their food control plan and will resume yoghurt production in their facilities this year.

John, Liz and family have recently grown their operation to include another lease farm (that was also previously run as an organic and largely A2 operation). This arrangement ensures they can efficiently maintain year-round supply for their customers. Their son Michael, along with a herd manager, is running that 120-hectare farm, milking a 250-cow, spring-calving herd. The 80-hectare home farm milks 200 cows and does autumn calving. John and Liz employ part-time seasonal staff to help out on the home farm.

© Waterford Press Ltd 2024 – Independent Print Media New Zealand

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