The sky seems bluer as you inch closer to the landscape of Berlin, Ohio, where farmer Edward Keim and his family are in partnership with ORIGIN Milk and operate a dairy farm that specifically fuels our line of DLM A2 Guernsey Milk. It's a unique milk that we love and our connection to it grew even deeper upon visiting Edward's 110-acre farm recently. Time-honored methods that hold quality over quantity go into this great product. The humble herd of 27 milk-producing Guernsey cows, a heritage breed, is more docile than expected, coming close enough to pet as their gentle handler and visitors from DLM near, including Tim Smith, DLM Washington Square Dairy Manager, and Dave Osner, DLM Grocery/Frozen/Dairy Director. From April through November, weather permitting, Edward likes to let the cows graze freely in the pasture on nutrient-dense grass as much as possible. They come to the barn to be milked just twice each day—sunrise and sundown—and feed on non-GMO grain to supplement their diet at that time. Seeing these cows grazing on the pasture, it's clear that they live in harmony with nature, and their gift of the milk with the golden hue is a product of that circle. "I like a healthy and happy cow," Edward says.
“What is the advantage of milk from a Guernsey cow with the A2 protein?” asks Tim Smith, DLM Washington Square Dairy Manager. The answer to this is two-pronged. ORIGIN founder Adrian Bota explains it best. First, the Guernsey breed itself carries with it a long legacy for producing prized golden milk, tracing back to the Isle of Guernsey in the English Channel where the heritage breed was kept pure by monks for many years. News of their golden milk spread and the Guernsey eventually came to the United States during the late 1800s, with reports of the “golden Guernsey milk” even being featured in the early days at the Waldorf Astoria.
“These cows produce a superior milk,” says Adrian. “We’re just incidentally here. It’s really the cows. You leave them alone—meaning no human intervention … It’s better for the cows, better for the milk.” Simply put—Guernsey is good.
For Edward, the decision to start raising Guernsey cows was influenced by one of his six children experiencing lactose intolerance. Milk with the A2 protein can sometimes be a solution for people with a range of digestive issues experienced with conventional milk. The Guernsey breed traditionally is one of the remaining dairy cows that is more likely to have retained its A2/A2 genetics over the years. Most dairy cows have gone from A2 to A1 milk proteins in a noted shift over the years. “I know that all of my cows are A2/A2 because I’ve genetically tested them,” says Edward assuredly.
Although there is ample fenced in land on the farm, Edward systematically manually moves partitions of fencing back about 30 feet each day, revealing a new strip of the land's lush and long green grass, clover, and alfalfa mix that is waiting to be “mowed” by the Guernsey appetite. John Suh, Origin COO, explains that this way of moving the herd intentionally to areas of pasture with new growth gives the land the ability to rest and regenerate both from the grazing and the wear and tear from the animals. “This is key to keeping the land alive … that way, the grass can grow.”
He further explains that the grass is good for the cow, which is good for the milk, resulting in what some note as that “different” golden color of milk. “The hue is from the beta-carotene coming from the sun into the grass that's eaten by the cow and goes into the milk,” says John. “This soil is a true rich and living thing. This is the most natural way to do it.”
The cream that can sometimes be seen at the top is simply a result of the minimally processed milk. “Cream is flavor,” says Adrian, noting that it harkens back to milk of past generations. Cream is milk fat that accumulates at the top when milk sits and a simple shake re-distributes it
Together, the folks at ORIGIN and Edward share that deep respect and fascination for this breed, both for the A2 genetics remaining intact, thanks to the great care generally taken with the legacy of the Guernsey heritage breed, and for the good flavor of the cows' milk.
The resulting golden milk with cream on top is a minimally processed milk— hence a shorter shelf life—from cows that spend as much time as possible grazing on green pasture. It's the product of local partners finding and supporting one another. Yes, it's a milk that may be better tolerated by the gut, but it's also a milk that tastes good and that you can feel good about putting on the table.
DLM Dairy Director Dave Osner has seen a growing interest in shoppers toward our DLM milk since we first launched it about three years ago. To answer, together with ORIGIN, we've lovingly grown our DLM A2 Guernsey Milk from half gallons and pints at first of Whole, 2%, Skim, and Chocolate milk to now also include gallons. We've also added DLM A2 Salted Artisan Butter, Heavy Cream, and Half & Half to the line of products and we have plans to introduce a buttermilk soon! Tim says that the DLM Dairy Managers, including himself, usually call with orders and receive them within two days. With minimal processing, this ensures that a fresh product is always top of mind.
"The soil, the cows, the farmer, the grocer, and the consumer are all a part of this local eco-system," says Adrian.