Heumilch/Hay milk/Latte fieno/Lait de foin

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Hay Milk

G.t.S. Heumilch/Hay milk/Latte fieno/Lait de foin milk comes from animals on traditional, sustainable dairy farms. The key difference between standard milk and haymilk, and haymilk's traditional character, stems from the fact that as in the earliest form of milk production, animals are not fed fermented fodder. Since the 1960s, and due to mechanisation, the industrialisation of farming has increasingly relied upon the production of silage (fermented fodder), thus reducing fresh-fodder farming. Moreover, regulations forbid the use of animals and feed which are to be identified as ‘genetically modified’ under prevailing legislation.

The feeding procedure is adapted to match seasonal changes: in the ‘green-feeding period’, animals are fed fresh grass and foliage and some hay and forms of permitted feed.

‘Haymilk’ is a form of cow's milk extracted from lactating cows, produced by dairy farmers who have undertaken to comply with the following criteria. In order to preserve the traditional production of haymilk, no animals or feed which are to be identified as ‘genetically modified’ under prevailing legislation may be used.

Permitted types of feed

— The animals are mainly fed fresh grass, leguminous plants and foliage during the ‘green-feeding period’, and hay in the winter period.

— The following are included and permitted as further roughage: green rapeseed, green maize, green rye and fodder beets, as well as hay, lucerne and maize pellets and similar types of feed.

— Roughage must make up at least 75 % of the yearly ration of dry feed.

— The following cereal crops are also permitted, in their conventional marketed form and in composites with bran, pellets, etc.: wheat, barley, oats, triticale, rye and maize . — The following may also be used as feed: beans, field peas, lupins, oleaginous fruits, and extraction meal or cakes.

Forbidden types of feed

— The following types of feed are prohibited: silage (fermented fodder), moist hay and fermented hay.

— Animals may not be fed by-products from breweries, distilleries, fruit pressing, or other by-products from the food industry, such as wet brewer's grains or wet cuttings. Exception: dry cuttings and molasses as a by-product of sugar manufacturing, and dry protein feed produced during grain processing.

— Lactating animals may not be fed any form of wet fodder.

— Animals may not be fed products of animal origin (milk, whey, meat-and-bone meal, etc.), except for young cows, which may be fed milk and whey.

— Animals may not be fed garden waste, fallen fruit, potatoes or urea.

Fertilisation conditions

— The use of sewage sludge, sewage sludge products, or compost from municipal treatment plants, with the exception of green compost, is prohibited on all areas agriculturally exploited by the milk supplier.

Milk suppliers must wait at least three weeks after manure spreading before use of land to graze livestock.

Use of chemical auxiliary substances

— Only the selective use of synthetic chemical pesticides under the expert supervision of agronomic specialists, and the targeting of specific sites in any of the green fodder areas of the dairy farm is permitted.

— Permitted fly sprays may be used in dairy stalls only when the lactating cows are absent.

Delivery prohibitions

Milk may not be delivered as ‘haymilk’ within ten days after calving.

— When cows that have been fed silage (fermented fodder) are used, there must be a waiting period of least 14 days.

— As regards alpine animals on their farms which have been fed silage (fermented fodder), either they must be fed silage-free food for 14 days before they are driven up to alpine pastures, or their milk can be classed as ‘haymilk’ only once they have spent 14 days on alpine pastures (owned by the haymilk supplier). No silage may be produced or used as feed on the alpine pasture.

Prohibition of genetically modified food and feed

— In order to preserve the traditional production of haymilk, no animals or feed which are to be identified as ‘genetically modified’ under prevailing legislation may be used.

Other regulations

— No silage (fermented fodder) may be produced or stored.

— No film-wrapped round bales of any type may be produced or stored.

— No moist hay or fermented hay may be produced.

Specific character of Haymilk

Haymilk has a particularly low level of clostridia spores on account of special feeding methods. When hard cheese is manufactured from raw haymilk, there are fewer major problems regarding holes and flavour.

A thesis study at the University of Vienna (by Schreiner, Seiz and Ginzinger, 2011) proved that haymilk has approximately double the content of omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acids when compared to standard milk, on account of the feeding based on roughage and pasture associated with that form of milk.

Traditional character of Haymilk

Haymilk production and processing is as old as the tradition of dairy farming (dating back to around the 5th century BCE). In the Middle Ages, in the foothills of the Alps and the Tyrolean mountains, cheese was already being produced from haymilk on ‘Schwaighöfen’ (small-scale Alpine dairy farms). The word ‘Schwaig’ comes from Middle High German and denotes a special form of settlement and, in particular, farming in the Alpine region. ‘Schwaighof’ farms were often established as permanent settlements by land-owners and their cattle stock was primarily used for dairy farming (particularly for cheese production).

They have existed in the Tyrol and Salzburg since the twelfth century. In the mountainous areas, haymilk was originally linked to the production of hard cheese from raw milk. As early as around 1900, laws were already passed regarding silage-free milk suitable for the production of hard cheese. In Austria, such laws formed the basis of the ‘Milchregulative’ (milk regulations) of the provinces of Vorarlberg, the Tyrol and Salzburg around 1950. In 1975 these ‘Milchregulative’ were streamlined and defined as the prerequisites for milk suitable for the production of hard cheese by the Austrian dairy farming body. The former dairy farming authority in Austria regulated certain production areas known as ‘silage-free zones’ up until 1993, in order to preserve the raw material ‘haymilk’ (also known as ‘silage-free milk’ and ‘milk suitable for the production of hard cheese’) for cheese manufacturers reliant on raw milk. In 1995, the silage-free zone for haymilk was further protected by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Water and Environment Management in its ‘non-use of silage measure’, contained in the ‘special guidelines to promote an environmentally friendly, extensive form of agriculture that protects natural living space’.

In alpine regions animals have always traditionally been fed according to the haymilk criteria. There are documents and certificates dating from 1544 charting alpine cheese production for the Wildschönauer Holzalm alpine pasture in the Tyrol. Since the start of the 1980s, some haymilk farmers have also been farming according to organic/ecological criteria.

Reference: The European Commission