It is true, we use rbST on our dairy farm. Maybe you have heard good things about this tool, maybe you have heard bad things or maybe you know nothing at all. One thing is for sure, the media gives this stuff a bad name. Even the labels on your milk jug can be confusing! Have you ever noticed the fine print on your milk carton?
The truth is that there is nothing to be afraid of. rbST or Recombinant bovine somatotropin is a synthetic version of the protein, bovine somatotropin, that is given to dairy cattle to boost milk production. Bovine somatotropin is a naturally occurring protein in all dairy cows that helps coordinate nutrients to the udder for milk production. Cows injected with the synthetic version are simply just being given more of a protein they already have.
When a dairy cow gives birth to her calf, she gradually produces more milk each day until she reaches her peak milk production level at about 60 days, at which time her milk production declines over time. rbST supplementation is initiated between day 57 and 70 of the lactation cycle and helps cows prolong an improved level of milk production. Basically it helps the cow eat more and efficiently produce more. The key word here is efficient. rbST will not work if the cow is not healthy, is not provided with good nutrition and comfort. rbST helps coordinate nutrients to boost milk production in healthy cows. You could give a cow fifty injections of rbST, but if she is not healthy or happy the rbST will have no effect.
So why use rbST? What is the point? Why do farmers need to boost milk production? Dairy farming is more than just a way of life, it is a business. We pay our bills with the money we get for milk. By using rbST our family is able to get more milk out of our cows and be more profitable. Globally, rbST allows dairy producers to feed the growing population with less. In fact, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) predicts a 60-percent increase in demand for meat, milk and eggs by 2050. Technology like rbST will play a HUGE role in food production because it allows us to grow and produce more with limited land and resources. Fellow farmers, we have a growing population to feed…are you up to the challenge?!
Next time you visit the dairy case, don’t be fooled by misleading labels such as “bST free” or “no hormones”. ALL milk has hormones in it because ALL cows produce hormones naturally. The protein/hormone is species specific, so if you drink milk from cows injected with rbST, it will not affect you. Your ten-year old daughter isn’t going to grow ginormous breasts or anything crazy like that. Have no fear! rbST is one of the most researched products in animal agriculture and approved by the FDA.
Milk is milk. No matter what brand or type of milk you choose, know it is safe. There is no bad choice in the dairy case so, DRINK UP!
Want to learn more about farm technology? Check out www.sensibletable.com.