Dutch food testing company Qlip has developed a novel grazing indicator based on milk samples and grazing data, which can show whether a sample of milk was produced by free roaming cows.
Qlip’s laboratory test milk to determine whether or not the supplier’s cows are spending enough time grazing. Modern farming practices making it impractical to allow cows to graze from spring until fall, Qlip said, meaning that the indicator could offer a valuable new method for monitoring and safeguarding grazing levels.
“The composition of milk is affected by what a cow eats,” the Utrecht-based company explained, “making it possible to see whether they were fed fresh grazed grass or other feed such as grass or corn silage.”
The laboratory analyses more than 50,000 raw milk samples every day by means of infrared technology, “resulting in a unique spectrum for every milk sample, supplying information about that specific composition of the milk”. The analyses are used by dairy companies for payment purposes to the farmers which get paid for their fresh milk and for dairy herd improvement programs, and are already routinely analysed for quality and composition.
Qlip innovation manager Jan Rademaker said: “The spectra and models can also be used for the development of other indicators. We’re working on other indicators that use big data from milk to determine animal health, animal welfare and sustainability, for example.”
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