While you’re pouring your coffee or cereal, it’s likely you’re about to add some milk to the hot beverage or your morning meal. Milk is not only a good source of calcium, but also a good source of other nutrients – such as potassium, vitamin D, B vitamins, and phosphorus.
While we are familiar with the many health benefits milk provides, we probably do not realize how much work goes into producing that gallon of milk that we buy at the grocery store.
Nestled out in the countryside of Circleville, Ohio is Miedema Dairy – where owners Andy and Itske Miedema were able to give us a walkthrough of what goes into the dairy farm and the regular process that takes place there.
With 1,350 cows, Miedema is set up with an efficient milking system that produces 11,000 gallons of milk a day, which amounts to approximately 65,000 pounds per trailer.
“After we milk a cow, we cool the milk down to about 36 degrees,” Andy Miedema explained. “After [the] cow, it goes into a trailer, and it goes from body temperature to 36 degrees. That’s for quality reason and that’s the reason we can ship it directly.”
When Itske showed us around, we were introduced to a system which revolved around the most important component of its design to make sure things flowed smoothly for both them and their cows – consistency.
“Consistency is key. We need to feed every day exactly the same – the same time, the same action. So, to have a good return of a cow, we need to have consistency,” Andy confessed.
A big part of that consistency is being able to monitor their cows to ensure that they stay healthy. Every cow at Miedema has their own technology, which enables the staff to assess whether the cow is feeling well or not. If the cow is sick, it is placed in a section of the farm known as the hospital to be cared for.
In addition to regularity, Miedema also tries to find alternative ways to reuse some leftover resources they have – which primarily include manure and bedding.
“The ideas is we’re recycling, bringing back the manure to the fields where they’re growing corn. The way we do it is we have a squeezer system in place. We pull out all the solids, the solids out of manure and spread it over the fields, and we’re using the same product as bedding material. It’s like a paper mill and if you’ve ever been in a paper mill, they dry it out and use it. All the minerals from the leftovers, the waste, goes back to the field, and we are growing corn,” Andy shared.
In closing, Andy acknowledged that the most crucial responsibility of his job was making sure that cows received the proper treatment and the right amount of attention.
“The rewarding thing of a dairy farmer is, we treat the cows well, we feed the cows well, your cows are responding on that. Like so many businesses, if you treat people well, and you hope that they treat you well too. But as a cow directly, the more comfortable the cows the better. [What] we do with the cows, even the small details, that’s very crucial. We have to return, and better perform animals. So that’s the main goal, how better we treat them is how better they treat us.”
Miedema Dairy is located in Circleville, Ohio. To keep up with more from Midema Dairy, be sure to follow them on their Facebook page.
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