Milk's nutritional value vital

09 Apr, 2019 04:00 AM
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MILK VALUE: Industry experts Karen Christie, Dr Jamie McNeil and Melanie McGrice, all spoke of the value of milk to health, at an open day on John Versteden's dairy farm at Longwarry.
Our 700 cows have the best life, and we intend to keep it that way.
MILK VALUE: Industry experts Karen Christie, Dr Jamie McNeil and Melanie McGrice, all spoke of the value of milk to health, at an open day on John Versteden's dairy farm at Longwarry.

'Dairy Matters' is the catch cry of a new campaign, answering questions from consumers seeking answers about the dairy industry.

The slogan is part of a new Dairy Australia website, offering a credible voice to tell the real story behind the sector.

Visiting the Longwarry farm of dairy industry stalwart John Versteden, several qualified experts spoke to a small group of young, industry-focused attendees about topics of interest to the general public.

Experts addressed issues such as the treatment and welfare of dairy cows, what happens to calves and the environmental impact and sustainability of modern dairy farming techniques.

They also answered questions about the contribution of dairy farming to global warming, and what the industry was doing to reduce its impact.

Mr Versteden spoke on how he had improved his farm, to make it more environmentally friendly, through tree planting and not using fertilizer for the past 25 years.

"We use nitrogen when needed, and spray the effluent onto paddocks not being used for two or more weeks," he said.

"Our 700 cows have the best life, and we intend to keep it that way."

Dr Jamie McNeil, a past president of the Australian Cattle Veterinarians, and program leader for the Rearing Healthy Calves initiative, spoke at the field day about the first day of a calf's life, and the need for mothers' colostrum.

"Mr Versteden has a shed where he calves his cows, and having this closed environment for the first day gives the calves the best opportunity to get that colostrum," Dr McNeil said.

"Whatever you give that cow will affect its health, and potentially contaminate the milk.

"So it's very important, when administering drench, or drugs, that you comply with all of the directions, and regulations required by law.

"It is important for the public to know these things, as people are asking more, and more about the effects of milk on human beings."

Mr Versteden said documenting drugs used on a cow meant the chance of contamination was reduced.

Providing transparency to public

Two commonly asked questions - 'Does drinking milk make you gain weight?' and 'Do dairy foods cause bloating?' have been answered by an industry expert.

Fertility expert and prenatal dietitian Melanie McGrice has her own business, Nutrition Plus, and was one of a panel of presenters speaking at the Versteden's dairy farm in Gippsland last month.

Ms McGrice told visitors milk had only 2 per cent of fat, and was very good for women, especially those contemplating having children.

She mentioned lactose intolerance was not caused by milk, but more from the lack of it.

Bloating may not be caused by milk, at least on its own.

"Having milk from day one will see a person less likely to suffer from lactose intolerance later in life," Ms McGrice said.

"The benefits of nature's gift, in milk, is the best way for mothers to set up their offspring for future health."

Karen Christie, Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture, said her grandparents had a dairy farm, but she didn't experience farming as a child.

After studies, and becoming a dairy farmer herself, Ms Christie has spent the last 11 years modelling Australian dairy farm greenhouse gas mitigation, and climate change adaptation options.

Farmers could do a carbon footprint profile of their farm, which both made it healthier and enhanced financial gains.

Land conservation, tree planting, and biodiversity, could all lead to a much healthier farm.

Ms Christie also spoke about the production of methane gas.

All cows produced methane, but contrary to popular belief, it mainly came out of their mouths.

Better nutrition would lead to more milk, and less methane gas.

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