Thistle Hill Farm (Tarentaise Cheese)

Rating
Farm/Brand HeadquartersNorth Pomfret, VT
ProductsCheese
Websitewww.thistlehillfarm.com
Market AreaNationwide, VT
Total Score1415

They write: “Thistle Hill Farm is a certified organic dairy farm located in North Pomfret, Vermont, owned and operated by John and Janine Putnam and their four children. The Putnams have been farming organically for over fifteen years, beginning with vegetables and beef, and culminating in organic cheese making. Other than incidental part time help, the family makes Thistle Hill Farm Tarentaise from the ground up. Every aspect of creating the cheese, from caring for the hay fields and pastures, bringing in the hay and caring for and milking the Jersey dairy cows is done on the farm by the Putnam family.

The closed herd of certified organic Jersey cows are fed only certified organic hay produced by the farm and certified organic grain. In the summer the cows are rotated through a series of small pastures to ensure that they are on new fresh grass every twelve hours. The barn contains comfort tie stalls where the cows are milked twice per day. During the summer, except during severe weather, the cows are never in the barn except for milking and their morning nap. Even during the winter, the cows are out every day stretching their legs, soaking up the sun and socializing.” This brand’s products can be found nationwide at select specialty stores and in Vermont in particular.

CriteriaRatingComment
TOTAL (possible score is 1600)1415
5-Cow Rating | Top-Rated—Beyond Organic
Farmstead dairies who live on-site (or work their own dairy daily) receive top points for this category. No transparency and/or no answer receive no points.
Ownership structure
100Family farm
Farmstead dairies and well-managed cooperatives with only their own patrons get top points in this category. Fewer points go to brands that have less control over their milk supply.
Milk Supply
100Single farm
Brands that do not also market any conventional products receive top points in this category. Brands that are less dedicated to organics receive fewer points.
Organic Production
100Brand only markets organic
The best transparency toward Cornucopia investigators is rewarded by full points.
Disclosure of Information for Verification
100Full disclosure
If a top-rated organic certifier certifies this brand they receive full points. Certifiers with questionable practices receive fewer points.
Organic Certification
100Vermont Organic Farmers (VOF)
If this brand has other third-party labels, particularly animal-welfare labels, that will provide them extra points in this category depending on the particular label and its standards.
Other Labels/Standards
0None
100% Grass-fed with independent verification or independent standards to ensure compliance will receive full points in this category. Other points are attributed to how much forage composes the dairy cows’ diets.
Grass-fed
60Markets grassfed, and exceeds USDA percent intake requirements
No point value – this information is offered for buyers interested in milk from cows without soy in their diets.
Soy Free Ration?
No
Rating based on (a) policies of brand, (b) enforcement/oversight (c) acreage available per cow, (d) average days on pasture (e) investigative actions.
Pasture
90Excellent pasture compliance
Where cows are milked one to two times per day they receive top points. It's standard organic protocol to milk two times a day. Dairies that milk three-to-four times a day is one indicator of factory-organics.
Times Milked
90Two times a day (standard protocol on legitimate organic dairies)
A cull and/or death rate under 10% annually receives full points.
Cull/death Rate
100Very low cull rate
Closed herd (meaning the brand raises all their replacement cattle) receives full points. If conventional animals are purchased, the brand receives fewer points.
Replacements
100Closed herd
If this brand has a unique way of managing calves they receive more points. If they remove the calf shortly after birth (the standard practice) they receive 70 points.
Calves
75Removed shortly after birth (standard practice)
When the brand prohibits all antibiotic use they receive full points. No answer receives no points.
Antibiotic Use
100No antibiotic use
When no hormones are used on farm(s) this brand receives full points. When the brand uses hormones therapeutically post-birth the brand receives 50 points.
Hormone Usage
100No hormones used
Farmstead dairies (lives on site) get full points and cooperative/corporations that set standards and have staff that visit the supplying dairies also receive top points. No direct supervision and/or personal relationship with farm(s) gets low or no points.
Farm Support
100Single farm
Full control of any added ingredients (100% come from within organization) receives top points. Dairy ingredients purchased from a number of different vendors (with less direct control) receives fewer points in this category.
Procurement of Ingredients
100No outside ingredients used
Several questions were asked in addition to the original survey questions that would ultimately give producers “extra credit” points. Look for details in individual brand explanations.
Extra Credit
0None

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