Section 2 Resources: Business Concept, Mission & Goals

Products Using Skim or Cream

It is always easiest to consider making whole, out of the cow, milk products.  I say "out of the cow", because whole milk, as sold in the grocery, is standardized. What this means is that in creameries, they generally skim all of the milk and add whole milk back to make it skim, 1%, 2%, 3%, etc.

In many regions, it was common to skim evening’s milk to make butter. They would then combine skim from that milking with whole meal (or whole milk) from the mornings milking to then make cheese. Single Gloucester and Asiago are examples of cheeses made using this process. These cheeses are nice and are known for a sharper flavor, especially when aged.

Some people got greedy and made skim milk cheese entirely. The Red Polled breed is associated with a cheese that was well known in its early days as a wonderful table cheese. Eventually, people skimmed every drop of cream and made a cheese that was well known for its hard, brittle texture. It eventually lost favor in the London markets. 

For those interested in ice cream or butter, you need a plan for the skim milk. The opposite will be true if you are planning to sell low-fat products.  If selling fluid milk, you will have to add vitamins to the milk once you skim any cream off of it. When you get into adding vitamins, you will need to keep a log of addition of this ingredient, have lab samples to show that the milk does, in fact, have the vitamins added, etc.

Volatile Fatty Acids, including conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)

CLA has been identified as the only known fatty acid to inhibit cancer in animal tests. The concentration of CLA in bovine milk is strongly influenced by diet of the cow. Manipulation of the animal’s diet can result in up to a 8 to 10-fold increase in the concentration of CLA in milk. With some breeds, such as the Brown Swiss, there is an inherently greater concentration of CLA. These breeds do not respond to diet manipulations to increase fatty acids to the degree that other breeds do. The research done of grass-fed cattle has been limited to the main dairy breeds and their crosses. It would be interesting for breeders of heritage breeds to combine efforts to evaluate natural concentrations of CLA vs. diet manipulation. The consumer is aware of CLA in their diet and having scientific data to support it is a great marketing tool.


Whey is what you have left after making cheese.  It is high in protein, fat and solids.  Municipal waste systems and your septic system will not appreciate having regular infusions of this in their systems.  To obtain permits, you will often be asked what you plan to do with your whey and waste water.

Creameries deal with whey in many different ways.  Listed below are a some of the ways we have found creameries handling they whey:

  • Pigs and chickens.  It has protein, solids and fat.  Parma ham is an excellent example of a whey fed pork product.  When mixed with grain and pasture, it makes an excellent feed for pigs and chickens.  Unless you have a contract with a local person to take the whey on a regular basis, do not count on the local guy and have a contingency for them not showing up.
  • Field Spreading.  A number of dairy farm operations have the waste water and whey pumped into liquid manure storage.  This is then field spread.  It can also be directly field spread.  Solids may need to be filtered to prevent clogging of sprayer nozzles.  For smaller operations, they can contract with larger dairy farms that have liquid manure storage a tipping fee.
  • Bark Beds.  Do NOT put in a bark bed.  They have failed all over the country.  NRCS loves them.  DO NOT install one.  Milk coagulates and clogs.  It does not dissipate.
  • Holding Tank and Septic Guy.  Sink a holding tank into the ground and have septic guy pump it out on a regular basis.  Costs a lot, but may be the only way.
  • Whey butter, Gytost, Ricotta, etc are all made from whey.  You will need appreciable amounts of milk to make whey butter, but the other products are commonly made on farms.  In some states, they will allow ricotta to be made on raw milk cheese operations because of the high temperatures needed to make this cheese.  Check with local authorities before considering that.
  • Planned wetlands.  It is a viable system and NRCS does have plans for them.  They are used on a number of farms. 

Milk Gene Tests

Many French and NZ bulls are tested for milk genes to assess their suitability for the production of cheese or other manufactured products. Some variants are specific to a breed or breed family. In general, breed associations test for the more popular variants.  When there is a variant that is traditional to a particular breed, they should be identified and tested for in that breed. An example of this is the c-variant of Kappa Casein in the Tarantaise breed. Traditionally this breed is used in the production of alpine cheeses.  Identifying other variants and their traditional use may help breeders select animals for that variant and traditional dairy product.

The more conventional dairy breeds, (Ayrshire, Guernsey and Milking Shorthorn) will need to go through USDA to have these tests become an official part of bull proofs. Bulls from NZ and other countries have this data collected. Taurus is a great example of a semen company advertising bull genetics from milk genotyped animals.

Bulls and cows can be selected for the following milk genes:

  • Beta Casein:  Beta Casein has many different variants. The most common are A, B, A1 and A2.  The current trend in niche fluid milk consumption is for milk to have the A2 variant. While ALBC  will not make claims related to A2 milk, the ability for breeders to use this test in selecting animals for the variant will allow them to sell breeding stock to people marketing this milk. There are serious patent issues involved with this test. It may not be worth it, and breeders should be careful using this as a sole criteria for selecting animals.
  • Beta Lactoglobulin: This is a whey protein. The two most common variants are A and B. The variants behave differently when heated. BB is more desirable for cheese making and milk powder manufacturing.
  • Kappa Casein: There are nine known variants of the Kappa Casein in milk. The genotyping of κ-casein alleles (A and B) is of practical importance, since the B allele is found to correlate with commercially valuable parameters of cheese yielding efficiency. Cows with BB genotype have been found to have a 10% better yield than cows with the AA. The B allele was found to be associated with thermal resistance, shorter coagulation time, better curd formation and micelles of different sizes, which are preferable in cheese making (Schaar et al., 1985; Marziali and Ng-Kwai-Hang, 1986)  The AA genotype is more desirable for milk powder production.
  • Αlpha S1-Casein*: In this gene it is the BB and CC variant that is identified. BB cows showed significant increases in milk yield, fat and protein than BC cows.  They also show higher per lactation cheese yields compared to cows with BC and CC genotypes.