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Advances increase dairy products, benefits

By Staff | Feb 29, 2016

-Farm News file photo Lee Maassen, a fourth-generation dairy farmer and member of the Midwest Dairy Association, stops to read the data immediately available on the milk production of each individual cow in his Maurice-area herd. The data will determine if nutritional adjustments to rations are required.

MAURICE – Long-time dairy operators, including Lee Maassen, have watched through the years as changes have edged into the dairy industry.

Maassen, a fourth generation dairyman from Maurice and member of the Midwest Dairy Association Board, said the changes have been both amazing and, in some cases, rapid.

“Among the more recent of these are those focusing on technologies we use to make our dairy cow more efficient in what she does to make milk,” Maassen said. “What we learn about nutrition and feeding her the best rations for optimum health and wellness also allows her to give more milk and to live longer.

“The genomic advancements in turn allow us to create some of the best animals we know how to breed,” he added. “And let’s not overlook how we’ve improved cow comfort, giving her the best chance to be happy and content.”

Still, other industry changes, Maassen said, have been those coming with the advent of new dairy products aimed at defining the consumer interest in dairy products.

He said such products have included “fair life” dairy products, filtered for more natural protein and calcium, lactose-free with more energy and vitamins.

The production of milk itself, a basic dairy product for consumers, should not at the same time be overlooked, Maassen said.

“We have also used available technology to better the end products of cheese and high protein whey – once a waste product and now vital in many sport and energy drinks and baby formulas,” he said. “These are but a few of the dairy farmer’s impacts on our food chain from our efforts to produce quality dairy products to the family tables of consumers.

“Milk is one of the most well-balanced foods for human needs and something we should not forget,” Maassen added. “And in this world of science and technology, we keep finding it’s getting better all the time, and it tastes good.”

Other technology improving crops and forage is giving dairy operations better quality feed and higher milk production totals.

“It’s a win for the consumer and helps us as dairy producers to feed a growing world population,” Maassen said.

He emphasized what he thinks is the importance of his industry’s need to continue to share its story.

“Animal activists do not understand the full potential of the food chain,” he said. “Nor do they understand that animals such as our dairy cows convert many plants into high quality food products, and enabling them to live in environments better than those in some human societies.”

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