Distillery Dairies, Deadly Milk

Distillery Dairy

Alcohol production results in large amounts of spent grain. Since the disposal of distillery waste in a city environment was a major expense, feeding the swill to dairy cows penned nearby made economic sense. (Above, Gooderham + Worts Distillery/Dairy, Toronto, 1850's)

To get grass-eating ruminants to eat the smelly feed, farmers would first cut off all food and water, then give them salt to induce thirst. Eventually they were given cold slop until they grew accustomed to it, after which they could be fed with hot slop (presumably their only food) straight from the stills.

The animals, confined to crowded, reeking, manure-filled pens, suffered numerous diseases and debilitating injuries. Their milk, if it could be called that, was deficient in key nutrients (slop grain is low in calcium, for example), and lacking its normal self-protective agents.

Back then, unscrupulous owners showed little concern for the health of their cows, the quality of the milk or the fate of those who ultimately drank it. So began the fall of raw milk as a healing food- a victim of greed, ignorance and fear.

The deaths caused by raw milk in that era are unforgivable, and should serve as a warning to all who ignore the time-tested lessons in farming and animal husbandry in the pursuit of profit and efficiency.

Bad Milk

Swill Milk Destroyed

Brewery Stock Farms: Too Much Like The Swill Milk Dairies

The feeding of distillery and brewery grains to cattle continues today, on the order of millions of tons per year worldwide, but modern dairy farmers now know to limit the amount of ration actually fed daily to their animals.

Generally believed to be nutritious in small quantities, (no more than 26% of dairy cow ration) distillers grains can vary substantially in nutrient content and availability from batch to batch. Without regular testing, it becomes difficult to know if nutritional needs are being met.

Drying method (most distillers grain is shipped dry to reduce transportation costs), handling, and amount of heating during distillation also affect how useful the spent grain can be to a cow.