You know milk comes from cows, but do you know what it takes to get the milk from the cow to your local grocery store? Here are 5 stages the milk must go through before it is shipped out to the store for you to buy!
- The process always starts with quality cow care. This means comfy, clean bedding, dry barns, lots of fresh water, and a perfectly balanced diet, the majority of which comes from our own land.
- The milking process usually takes place 2-3 times a day, on our farm it’s 3. There are various styles of milking parlors, and in this day and age parlors are actually more sanitary and comfortable for the cows than milking by hand. Regardless of the style of parlor, the milk never comes in contact with human hands.
- When the milk first arrives in the holding tank it is about 100 degrees (the temperature of the cows body), but it is quickly cooled to 34 degrees or less to guarantee quality and safety.
- An insulated milk truck picks up the milk regularly. Before it is transferred to the truck it is tested for quality and safety, then when it arrives at the processing plant it is tested again. If at any point the test finds anything (antibiotics is a good example), the entire tank is dumped. Only safe, high quality milk makes it to the public.
- Now we are at the processing plant, the last stop before the milk hits the grocery stores. This is where the milk goes through a 3 step process. 1.) Standardization. Milk is separated from the cream. It may be rejoined with different fat percentages later. 2.) Pasteurization. The milk is quickly heated to 148 degrees or higher and held for half an hour to kill any potential bacteria. 3.) Homogenization. The last step is to break up the fat into smaller particles so it doesn’t rise to the top.
The dairy industry does more than support farmers and their families. In the process of getting milk from the cow to your table, you have farmers, milkers, truck drivers, testers, and not to mention the people employed by the processing plants. It takes a lot of work to bring milk to your table, but it’s worth it!