Disclosure: I was compensated for my trip to Hilltop Dairy farm from the Midwest Dairy Association to cover my gas and food for the day.
Just in case you thought I was all done with the cattle…I’m here to prove you wrong…LOL! After I arrived home from my trip On the Ranch, I was going to take a tour of a local dairy farm with my daughter’s Girl Scout troop, for National Dairy Month in June. Unfortunately it had to be postponed so we didn’t get to go until July, but even though we were a month late, I’m so glad we went, it was very neat to see.
Thanks to the hospitality of Olga Reuvekamp whose family owns Hilltop Dairy in Elkton, SD our Girl Scout troop got a first hand look at how the milk we drink gets produced.
We started off in the “milking parlor”. Hilltop Dairy uses a carousel to milk their cows. It’s really quite something. The cows wait patiently to get on the carousel, which goes around in a circle. Once on their udders are cleaned, and then the milking equipment gets attached. For most of them once around will be sufficient to milk, some of them need to go around twice to get all their milk out. These cows are milked 3x a day!! So the carousel pretty much runs 24/7.
The picture was taken through a window, but I got a video as we passed by through the milking room which is much clearer and gives one a better idea of how it actually works.
Hilltop Dairy milks about 1700 cows on a daily basis. When they are not being milked, the cows stay in a barn that is large and airy. There are ‘shades’ that can be opened or closed depending on the weather, to let the sunlight and cool breezes in or to keep the cold winds out.
Inside the barn there are fans to keep everything at a moderate temperature. We visited on a hot day, and the barn was so comfortable!
When the cows have their turn at milking their bedding gets changed. Do you see the bedding material? What do you think it is? We had some guesses that it was dirt and sawdust. But quite surprisingly…it’s recycled manure!
Hilltop Dairy has a high tech separator that takes all the ‘bad stuff’ out of the manure and cleans it all up. It’s ideal for bedding because it absorbs moisture and of course it’s good for the environment as well.
These cows are treated like royalty! Nothing but the best for them – each day they get new feed, no leftovers here! Alfalfa feed is their favorite we were told, and the Reuvekamp’s farm their own crops and chop it down, dry it out, bundle and bale it, so that their cows have feed all year long. Besides the alfalfa, they also get corn and sometimes even cotton seed is added for certain fats and proteins.
When we were finished our tour – Olga was kind enough to lay out a spread of dairy products for us to taste. Cheeses, yogurt, and ice cream were all sampled and declared tasty by the girls.
Thank you Hilltop Dairy farm for the tour of your dairy facility and for the educational day.