This post is sponsored by Indiana’s Family of Farmers.
June is Dairy Month! Since, as I’ve mentioned before, dairy is my favorite food group, I take this month pretty seriously. My usual celebration involves eating lots of cheese and ice cream, but this year I took things to a new level. I had the opportunity to pile on a bus with my friends and see not only where my milk originates, but where it’s processed before it ends up on store shelves.
We started our day at the Prairie Farms processing plant in Fort Wayne, seeing what happens to milk once it leaves the farm. Due to the very strict health and safety standards the company follows, I couldn’t take pictures, but I had some pretty eye-opening takeaways from our tour. Here are a few:
- The place is clean. Like, hospital clean. We had to suit up in lab coats, hair nets, and shoe covers to go in. It seemed like every machine that wasn’t being used was being washed down.
- Prairie Farms operates 24/7. That means their products are incredibly fresh; no milk is ever sitting around waiting for someone to process it. The milk you buy at the store was probably in a cow just a couple days before.
- They have really high standards. There are standards set by the government that they have to meet, but their own company standards are higher.
- Prairie Farms is farmer-owned, and they have long-standing relationships with all of the farms they work with. That means they know exactly where their milk is coming from, and have confidence in those farms and their practices.
The robots allow the cows to get milked whenever they like, as often as they like. The robots also allow the Kuehnerts to keep their farm a family farm, and the whole family works together to keep things running. The milking robots are pretty amazing to watch in action.
Remember that old commercial about how happy cows make the best dairy products? Well, let me tell you, these are the happiest cows I’ve ever seen. They’re friendly, curious, and completely content.
The babies are very…forward. And also adorable.
Like Prairie Farms, the Kuehnerts have very high standards for their product. The robotic system not only allows for easier operations on the farm, it also closely monitors milk production. The cows each wear a microchip around their neck (kind of like a Fitbit!) that keeps track of all their vital statistics, so the Kuehnerts can make the best choices for their farm.
There’s so much more I could say about this trip, but I think this video from little Lulu of the Indy With Kids family sums it all up:
I can now say that I have full confidence in the milk I buy at the grocery store. And the cheese. And the yogurt. And the butter. And the ice cream….
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