Recently (since 2004) hundreds of Austrian dairy producers turn to a traditional way of producing milk. They attempt to feed their animals (mainly cows) by the method of Hay Farming (milk production based on hay) which is free of silage use. The success of their effort resulted in the quality seal “Traditional Speciality Guaranteed” (TSG) by the European Union (EU). Moreover, there is an ever-increasing demand of high nutritional value and quality dairy products, such as Hay milk products, which leads to price bonus for their producers. This could be an example for imitation for other stockbreeders, especially of mountain areas where the animals could be fed from an extremely wide range of grasses and herbs.
The Austrian dairy producers by looking to the future and following the trends of high quality and nutritional value products, managed to make their country the main producer of «Hay Milk» in Europe.
The Hay Farming
In particular, milk production based on Hay Farming is the most traditional way of producing milk. The animals are fed in accordance with the natural seasons. In the summer, the cows enjoy clean air, clear water and a choice of up to 1,000 different grasses and herbs. In the winter, they are fed sun-dried hay, which is supplemented with grains that are rich in minerals. The use of fermented feeds like silage is strictly forbidden.
This traditional manner of producing milk has been recognized by the EU and is to be certified as a Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG). Consequently Hay Milk will be the first Austrian product permitted to carry this EU accolade.
The Hay milk
Furthermore the Hay Milk due to its excellent organoleptic characteristics is the ideal basis for the original Austrian Bergkase cheese produced in the mountains of Austria. No other country in Europe has a greater variety in Hay milk products to offer than Austria. Apart from an extraordinary cheese selection, the Austrian dairy producers supply a wide range of milk delicacies (fresh milk, sour milk, yoghurt, butter, etc.). Moreover, specialities like goat and sheep milk products make the selection complete.
A study undertaken at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU) in Vienna analysed the production methods of Hay milk farmers and compared them with industrialised dairy farming in Europe. The results have shown that Hay farming is a sustainable farming system fit for the future, which protects the environment and bio-diversity, preserves the traditional landscape and saves valuable resources.
The «ARGE Heumilch»
The Austrians dairy farmers take the advantage of the benefits of this traditional manner of producing milk. Since 2004 «ARGE Heumilch» represents some 8,000 Hay milk farmers and 60 milk processors, who in their entirety work in accordance with strict rules of Hay farming. In 2009 «ARGE Heumilch» started promoting its products with great success since around 85% of Austrians already know about Hay milk products. At the moment approximately 400 Hay milk products are available throughout the country.
The ARGE Heumilch goals
- Preserving silage-free farming
- Supporting Hay milk farmers, processors and marketers
- Increasing value added for all partners
- Securing jobs
- Tasty and healthy premium products for consumers
The benefits for the producers
- The sale of all their products
- Guaranteed price bonus
- 5 cents per kilogram Hay milk bonus for producers
- 15 cents per kilogram organic Hay milk bonus for producers
- at an overall production rate of 430 million kilograms in 2014 means a value added of about 17 million euros for Hay milk farmers