The Irish Dairy Industry: The cows are here to stay
Farmers have said for generations that the best milk comes from the happiest cows and in Ireland, it’s hard to imagine a place where the cows could be happier! It’s not an outlandish statement to say that Irish dairy cows produce arguably the most delicious and most nutritious milk in the world.
It all starts with a cow’s favourite and most natural food; lush green grass. Ireland climate allows for the optimal conditions to grow nutritionally dense grass. The country has a climate that is blessed by the Gulf Stream which brings mild winters, mild summers and plenty of rain to the island’s green valleys and pastures.
The 1.5 million cows that call Ireland their home produce such high quality milk that it is sought all over the world. The Irish dairy industry is renowned worldwide for its quality, its sustainability and its ethical animal welfare practices. Irish cheeses, butter, yoghurts and crème liqueurs are exported to 100’s of countries and have won an enormous plethora of internationally recognised awards for quality.
In most other parts of the world, dairy farmers have been forced to implement intensive indoor grain-feeding dairy farming models. It’s not surprising then that Irish milk is so good; it comes from grass-fed cows that are free to roam, play and socialise outdoors in the clean air. Sure Irish cows do spend about 2 months in the winter in protective environment – we’re not in the Caribbean after all! But for about 300 days a year they live just the way that nature intended.
The good news doesn’t stop there - A panel of experts from the European Commission’s Research Centre reported that Ireland’s dairy industry is the joint- lowest carbon intensive in the EU. So while some Irish people would certainly not oppose a spot of global warming to heat up the nation’s summers, the cows certainly wouldn’t have it any other way! As far as they are concerned they live in cow climate paradise!
Calling the Cows by Name
Another factor that makes Irish dairy produce so unique is because to the Irish, farming is personal. Forget massive corporations and exhaustive sprawling farms, Ireland's milk comes from around 18,500 small family owned farms, each with an average herd size of just 55 cows. Most of these families have been rearing cows for generations, passing the tradition and wisdom in dairy farming along to the next batch of young farmers. Between them, these small farms produce about 5.5 billion litres of milk each year.
Producing the highest quality milk is something that Irish farmers are extremely proud of. It’s by combining the best farming practices with the idyllic conditions for wholesome grass production that they are able to produce the highest quality milk that goes into Irish dairy products.
One of the best kept secrets is the Irish cheese industry. With the quality milk available, the traditional cheese making traditions and small batch production, Irish cheese can arugably stand proudly beside globally recongised products in terms of taste, texture and quality.
If you fancy trying a selection of Irish cheese from Inish Bia we are offering a 10% discount on purchases before June 15th! You can see our select range here. And we’ve added in a selection of chutneys and crackers to make the perfect Irish cheese board. We’ve even added in Merry’s Irish Cream Liquer for afters. Well, it is Irish milk we are boasting about after all J