two cows on pasture

Ruminating on Rumination

Alright, we'll admit. Not many people get as excited as we do about cattle digestion. But bear with us. Because we recently had a visit from our favorite Ruminant Nutrition Expert, John Kennedy. And John always provides a good opportunity to get our ag-geek on.


Now, you're probably asking, "What is a Ruminant Nutrition Expert?" Well, a ruminant is basically any animal that chews its cud. Cows, of course, included. So John is pretty much like a cattle dietician. John visits The Farm on a regular basis and helps us strike the perfect balanced meal for our bovine herd. During his latest visit, he gave a casual lecture to a group of super cheese nerds about cow digestive systems and their internal mobile fermentation system, as he calls it.


John also explained the benefits to humans lucky enough to live in close proximity to cows. Ruminants, because their first stomach functions as a 50 lb. fermentation vat, can feed on many byproducts of our food sources, such as almond nut cases, cotton seeds from the central valley and even leftover corn from ethanol production. One good example is the brewer’s grain byproducts that get shipped directly from Lagunitas Brewery out to Point Reyes to become a protein additive into our herd feed mix. (That's right, beer fans, there's some brew in that Bay Blue.)


The beauty of the co-existence between the human and bovine worlds is that a cow can eat the things we can’t. A ruminant can break down the fiber and release the protein for meat and milk production from byproducts of our processed foods. There is less waste overall, and we benefit from the later results too, like with cheese. Everyone wins.


As a Ruminant Nutritionist, John’s expertise is on how best to feed that interior fermentation vat. He periodically tests the cows and, if they are lacking in any vitamins or minerals, he adds that in to the protein sources to create the best possible diet.


When our cows eat the best diet, they produce the best milk, so we can make the best cheese, which is what we aim to do every day.

To reach the next level in your Ruminant Nutrition education, don’t miss the video of John’s talk at the Farm. You'll be well on your way to cheese geekdom.