What are the Different Types of Milk?

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We have been drinking cows milk for hundreds of years, and consider it an important part of a staple diet. But how much do we know about the different forms and processes? Certain things we are sure about, such as the fact that it needs to be kept cool so it stays fresh longer, but our knowledge is a little vague in other areas. Here are some facts about cows milk: –

Whole, Semi-skimmed and Skimmed Milk

These are the kinds of milk most of us know about and are defined by their fat content. Milk is put through a centrifugal separator which removes fat globules, which can then be re-blended to various levels. The fat content in whole milk is normally 3.5-4.5%, semi-skimmed has 2.5% fat and skimmed milk contains 0.1% fat.


This milk is processed so that the cream is evenly distributed rather than rising to the top, and making the milk easier to process.


Milk is heated then quickly cooled in order to kill any harmful bacteria, and lengthen shelf life. The method was introduced in the UK to reduce risk of food poisoning during the First World War, and is now a required process.

Raw Milk

Raw milk has not been pasteurised, homogenised or processed at all, and is growing in popularity due to its superior taste and easy to digest nature. Concerns about the possible presence of harmful bacteria and food poisoning abound though, and legally raw milk can only be sold direct from the farmer.

Pasture or Grass fed

The quality and taste of milk is greatly affected by what each herd eats. Pasture fed, means that cows must have a diet that consists of 100% grass and foraged greens, meaning no cereals. Grass fed cows can be fed a minimum of 50% grass and foraged greens, while hay and cereals make up the remaining percentage.

Organic Organic milk means no pesticides have been used in production, and there are higher levels of animal welfare. These cows are pasture fed for at least 200 days a year and are fed a minimum of 60% grass.

Free-range Free–range cows graze outdoors for at least half of the year, which provides the animals with a higher quality of life.

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