No, this is not a belated April Fools prank, but a real mystery coming out of dairy farms in the Midwest.
Over a 35-year career in dairy cow nutrition and health management in Wisconsin, Dieter Harle has witnessed many changes in farm management, cow nutrition, and cow health and longevity. At a presentation March 28, 2017 at the WPS Farm Show in Wisconsin, Harle raised a question he has, in turn, discussed many times, in private, with cheese makers around the state.
Why is it harder to make Swiss cheese with holes in it?
Harle believes that something is undermining the health of high-production cows, and that a sometimes-rapid decline in nutrition is likely the cause. In an April 3rd story in the Wisconsin Farmer by Ray Mueller, Harle raised alarm over one 3,500 cow dairy that is losing 10 cows a month, on top of normal culling, yet this farm finds such a death-loss rate acceptable.
What might be causing a change in both cow nutrition and the cheese making process? Harle does not know the answer, and continues to seek ideas and input from experts wherever he travels and speaks.
He speculates that exposure to glyphosate herbicide, a known chelating agent with anti-bacterial activity, might be a cause, possibly along with changes in nutrient concentrations or nutrient availability incorn and soybean feedstuffs.
Editor’s Note — One simple way to test Harle’s hypothesis would be to ask companies making organic Swiss cheese in Wisconsin if they have noticed any change in the Swiss cheese making process or the spaces within it. I will do so and report back to readers of Hygeia Analytics.
Ray Mueller, “Farm consultant concerned over GMOs, use of glyphosate,” Wisconsin State Farmer, April 3, 2017.