Sauerkraut juice benefitting farmers

Free supply available at Bear Creek plants

Grace Kirchner Leader Correspondent

Photo by Grace Kirchner GLK Foods has a supply of sauerkraut juice that they are offering to farmers free of charge. Many say they see an increase in their cow production that comes on gradually. GLK Foods is the largest producer of sauerkraut in the world.

Some dairymen in the area have found a way to increase milk production and reduce their costs by adding sauerkraut juice, or SKJ, to their dairy ration.

This comes at a time when low milk prices have caused some challenging times for farmers as they look for ways to cut their costs while increasing efficiency. The idea is new to the area but something that is being done in Germany. The juice is available free from GLK Foods in Bear Creek, 400 Clark St., for the hauling.

According to university studies at Leipzig University in Germany, SKJ has vitamins, enzymes and minerals that improve feed digestion and animal health, help increase milk production and improve reproduction.

“Lactobaccilus plantarum is the microbe that is natural in cabbage and is preserving cabbage while creating positive enzymes that are also immunity boosters,” said Michael Maney, GLK Foods director of technical services, Bear Creek.

Dieter Harle, a former Waupaca County 4-H agent, is a consultant working with GLK Foods. He is originally from Germany and learned of the idea of feeding the sauerkraut juice. He thought that if it was beneficial to humans, why not to animals.

According to Maney, Harle approached him with the idea. Kraut juice is not waste cabbage but a food-grade product and a natural byproduct of sauerkraut fermentation, according to Maney. Normally, the juice would go into their lagoon system and then be spread on fields and would be of no value to GLK.

Sauerkraut juice has been approved by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection as a feed ingredient and contains all the benefits found in sauerkraut, according to Maney. Users have seen improved stool condition, enhanced production increases milk components stabilized and reproduction improvements, and over time reproduction improvements can be noticed.

“It is a good thing,” said Tim Bowers, a dairyman from Marion. “The cows like it with its salt content and vitamins. The cows eat and drink more and the production of milk is increased.”

Harle approached Bowers and his father, Dave, about feeding the juice to their cattle. Bowers said they feed it to the dairy herd and to the youngstock. He travels to Bear Creek to get his supple of juice once a week. They are milking about 200 cows and have been feeding the juice the past two years by adding it to the TMR mixer.

The only potential problem is that the juice can freeze in temperatures below 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

Bowers said he is willing to talk to anyone about their experience with feeding the sauerkraut juice. Currently, there are farmers in Waupaca, Shawano, and Outagamie feeding the juice to their cows and youngstock.

Peter Kirchner, of Clintonville, says his cows are each producing two extra pounds of milk per day with the juice. Feeding is at one pound per cow per day. He hauls his own juice but some farms can make arrangements with area truckers to have the juice delivered to their farms. Pickup can be any time during normal business hours.

For information about sauerkraut juice, contact Maney at 715-752-4905.