Christine moved to Shropshire in the West Midlands of England ten years ago with the vision to produce good food. She realised that simply buying produce with an organic stamp on it, did not necessarily mean it was produced, shipped or packaged before it got to the supermarket shelf in the most sustainable way. She wanted to go beyond organic. She was very fortunate to cross paths with the Pasture-Fed Livestock Association because due to generous sharing of knowledge by other members she obtained the tools to fullfil her dream of producing food to the next level...
Audio: Eric and Clare speak with Christine about her micro dairy's raw milk Jan 2017 (source).
Smiling Tree Farm has a microdairy of only 7 Jersey cows who are grazed all year round on organically grown pasture. They eat grass, clover, wildflowers and a diverse mixture of highly nutritious herbs. In the winter this diet is supplemented with home-grown hay from these same pastures.
It is very important to Christine that her ‘grass-fed’ cows really are 100% grass fed. They never get grains, soya, root crops, brassicas or silage. These are not part of a cow’s natural diet and they can all have detrimental effects either to her health or to the taste and quality of her milk. Christine's website says that grains are a particular problem as they adversely change the composition of milk, alter its healthy balance of fats and inhibit the activity of the natural enzymes and beneficial probiotic bacteria. See this article to learn why science say 100% pasture-raised is best.
The cows are milked once a day and the milk is shared with the calf in what is called Calf at Foot Dairying. The cows get to keep their calves
and there is an emphasis on the animals' quality of life. Christine has written a series of articles about Cow-calf dairying looking at the practicalities of producing ethical, cruelty-free milk by allowing dairy cows to keep their calves. It covers why conventional dairy cows don’t keep their calves and why humanely-produced milk using cow-calf dairying is rare and costs much more to produce.
Christine say that flavour start in the soil. To read more about what makes the milk taste so great, click here.
Christine is also involved in networking with like-minded dairy farmers such as pioneer Fiona Provan from The Calf at Foot dairy and like-minded organisations such as the Pasture-Fed Livestock Association, Regen Ag UK, 3LM and others. Christine also hosts educational events on her farm such as this Micro-Dairy Gathering in June 2017. Christine is a true inspiration and a beacon of light for people who want to follow in her footsteps.
The Absolute Importance of Microdairies workshop
Audio: The following is from the workshop The Absolute Importance of Microdairies (source) published 4 Jan 2017. It is for anyone interested in starting a microdairy or perhaps a landowner with land for a microdairy. The workshop is also for those who want to find ways of adding value. The Oxford Real Farming Conference have kindly made this audio available to everybody interested in micro dairying.
Chair: Sophia Morgan-Swinhoe (PFLA dairy manager)
Speakers: Simon Fairlie (Monkton Wyld), Robert Fraser (Herefordshire farmer), Nick Snelgar (Maple Field Milk CIC) and Christine Page (Smiling Tree Farm). Click here to download Christine's PDF Powerpoint slide.