WHERE IS ALEXANDRE FAMILY FARM LOCATED AND TELL US ABOUT THE FAMILY?
We are on the north end of the Redwoods on the Northern California Coast, 10 miles south of the Oregon border, the Alexandre Family milks organic grazing cows and raises pastured laying hens. Both 4th generation dairy farmers, Blake and Stephanie raised their kids with the same family paradigm of hard work and ownership mentality. The five kids have all gone to Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, majoring in either agriculture business or agriculture engineering, returning to the farm all with different passions, but a shared family vision.
HOW MANY COWS ARE ON YOUR FARM?
This milk comes from our EcoDairy where we milk 700 cows, but we do have about 4000 total milk cows on four separate facilities in Humboldt and Del Norte counties. We want to get more dairy into more mouths, and we believe we can do that by being a large dairy with outstanding integrity.
IS THE MILK 100% GRASSFED?
We are not certified 100% grassfed, but close to it. Our Pasture Promise seal is our commitment to our consumers towards quality grazing of our pastures, through the biodiversity of plant species and biodynamic green pastures. Our mild temperate weather allows for the soil, land, and pasture to be alive every day of the year, averaging 54-65 degrees throughout the whole year. In doing so, we ensure that the pasture our cows eat is green and alive year round. Our annual rainfall of over 80 inches allows for grass growth 365 days a year. We have green grass 365 days a year, a mild, temperate climate that is beneficial to the land, the animals, and our people.
WHAT IS VAT PASTUEURIZED OR LOW TEMP PASTEURIZED?
Vat Pasteurized refers to the pasteurization of milk in a batch-like style. Milk is held at 145 degrees for 30 minutes and then quickly cooled. This retains a high percentage of the milk’s natural enzymes and protein which adds to the flavor and health benefits of our milk. This low temperature pasteurization does minimal denaturing to the good enzymes and protein in our milk, as opposed to a high temperature for a short time (HTST) which will cook the milk as high as 160-211 degrees. Our minimal processing means that the shelf life of our milk is shorter.
HOW MANY ADDED SUGARS ARE THERE?
We have less than 10 grams of added sugars in all of our milk flavors. No added sugars in our whole milk.
The plastic that we use is called PET, and it is quality, safe, non-toxic, strong, lightweight, flexible material that is 100% recyclable, and BPA free! We also have a built-in Ultra Violet protection in the renin of the plastic, this protects the milk on the shelf from being oxidized from the light. We do not want to denature the milk in any way, shape or form, and that UV renin protects that. We also have a skinny neck on the bottle to protect the cream as it sloshes around in trucks, much like how milk bottles use to be in the olden days. The lightweight part of the bottle is nice because we are hauling less weight and more can fit in a truck – we are also then only hauling them one way, and then to the recycling center so we believe we have a smaller carbon footprint with our plastic bottles. Two other major points with plastic is that the retailers really do not like glass, as it breaks often with milk bottles and is heavy and harder to handle, and they have less work dealing with the plastic. The price per bottle is significantly different as well and we really wanted to price our milk according to the quality of the milk and not add on a whole $1 for the glass.
WHAT IS A2/A2?
A2/A2 beta-casein is the primary protein in Human Milk. It’s Natural to the body and easily absorbed. Historically, cows only produce milk with this casein protein.
Over time, breeding and mass dairy production diminished the homogeneity of A2/A2 DNA. Cows today produce a combination of A1 and A2 proteins. This has created a type of milk that is relatively new to the human body and may be more difficult to digest.
WHAT ARE THE BREEDS OF YOUR COWS?
Crossbreed of New Zealand Kiwi Cross, German Fleckvieh, New Zealand Ayrshire, Dutch Holstein, and Danish Jersey. Our cows are a mixture of breeds from across the world, brought together to utilize strengths from each breed. Our intent is to use their natural ability to roam our pastures, by being short and wide animals with strong feet and legs, making them better grazers and walkers, turning pasture into nutrient-dense milk products.
ARE YOUR PRODUCTS GLUTEN-FREE?
Our dairy products – milk, yogurt, and eggs are all gluten-free. We are currently working on the official gluten-free certification.
WHY ARE THE EGGS UNIQUE SIZES AND COLORS?
The shades of brown in our eggs is directly related to the uncontrolled environment that our hens have outdoors. The variation in colors, lighter shelled eggs mean chickens was exposed to more Vitamin D outdoors, darker shelled eggs means chickens wasn’t out grazing as much. There is also a correlation with the age of the bird and the darkness of the shell. The variation in sizes means that we do not limit feed our hens.
The strength of the shell comes from the oyster shell that we feed to the chickens as an added calcium source. The dark yolk color comes from our Green Grass and that nutritional goodness in it. We do not feed any type of supplement that would enhance that color; rather, the chicken eats the good nutrients from the pasture. The firm white membrane means that these eggs are fresh, right from our farm.
WHY ARE STORES SOMETIMES OUT OF ALEXANDRE KIDS EGGS?
As the days start to get shorter and the nights longer, pastured laying hens begin to lay fewer eggs. Unlike our farming predecessors, urban dwellers of today have little sense of the natural seasonality of egg production. If we are out, be patient with us as we await for our molting hens to produce soon.
DO YOU TRIM THE BIRDS’ BEAKS?
No, we don’t have any extremities cut off as our hens need their sharp beaks and toes to peck the ground for food – bugs, worms, grasses, etc. We do not have pecking problems with our chickens because there is plenty of space to roam around the pastures.
HOW OLD ARE THE CHICKS WHEN YOU GET THEM?
One day old. We order our chicks from a multi-generational hatchery in Idaho that has been in business for 100 plus years. We meet the truck along highway I-5 to get the baby chicks at 1 day old, so they do remarkably well.
IS THERE SOY IN THE CHICKENS DIET?
Yes, we have tried pulling soy out of our flock’s diet, but immediately we had issues, they started to peck at each other, egg production dropped along with feed consumption. The organic soybean meal in the feed is the best protein source available for our hens. We are involved with the Weston A. Price Foundation and have learned all the reasons why we should avoid soy. We have substituted the soy with peas, and that helped, but we did have to put a little back in the ration to keep the hens happy. The soy, for now, is our source of protein for the birds.
ARE YOUR EGGS FERTILIZED?
Yes, we like to keep roosters with our hens. It certainly isn’t to be feared. We appreciate the roosters with the chickens because they alert them to danger, protect them, wake them up (with their cock-a-doodle-do) and provide a natural stability to the flock. Also, there are many consumers who prefer fertilized eggs. Because we collect eggs daily, (wash and refrigerate) incubation does not occur in any way. A little white dot that appears on the yolk is the female egg and when it is fertilized the naked eye cannot tell the difference.
WHAT ARE YOU DOING ABOUT AVIAN INFLUENZA?
We continue to monitor the situation very closely, and will always comply with any state-mandated regulations that serve to protect all chicken farmers. We also vaccinate the flock every year to protect them against diseases. The FDA and USDA are of the opinion that warmer weather should see an end to this outbreak. The avian influenza virus is very susceptible to sunlight, UV and warmth, so its ability to survive in the wild as we move towards summer is extremely compromised. We perform HACCP analyses and adhere food safety protocols to ensure that we are making our best effort to protect our flocks.
ARE THERE ROOSTERS WITH YOUR HENS?
Yes, we have roosters in our flocks. We do this because the hens are in their more natural environment when the roosters are around. He rules the roost, alerts and protects his girls from predators plus we get desired fertilized eggs. We also have a few special hens that “sit” on their eggs in our barns and we love to see mama hen walking around with all of her baby chicks following her.