I love factory-type tours so when my mother in law asked if we would be interested in visiting a new diary during our recent stay in Minnesota, we were quick to agree.
To be honest, my expectations were low. I’ve been spoiled living in Idaho with fresh, raw cow milk. I’ve been friends with the farmers. I know what the cows eat (grass in the summer and alfalfa in the winter) and how they are treated. These cows are not given a number, but a name. These are happy cows. Happy cows are going to give me awesome milk. Lately, I’ve even had the milk hand delivered to my front door two times a week. That’s a tough act to follow. But as I said, I love tours so how I could I not go?
Upon arrival we were entranced by the moving carousel of milking cows. What a sight to behold! Just over 100 cows (most of them Jersey) slowing turning in a circle taking a 6 minute ride from start to finish while they are milked.
Next, we saw where the collected milk is cooled and transferred directly into the trucks that will deliver their load to a nearby cheese plant within hours of milking.
One of the most mind-blowing aspects of the tour was this little machine that processes the cow manure in such a way that almost all of the moisture is removed. The resulting product is dry, crumbly and reused to line the cow beds!
As we visited the mama cows, we were greeted with the best surprise of the day-a baby calf being born right in front of our eyes! We stood quiet and in awe, ever thankful for the wonderful timing of our tour. Click here to view the 2 minute video of the birth.
I still love my raw milk and the option to farm on a small-scale. However, I will willingly admit that for a large-scale operation, this dairy was doing a lot of things right and I’m glad we had a chance to see it in person.