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Healthy Animals, Healthy Milk: The Cows Come First

The following story was written by ODNC Dietetic Intern Katlyn Wolf.

Dairy farming is a 24/7 job where cow care comes first. A dairy farmer’s top priority is the well-being of their animals, and they know that healthy cows produce healthy milk. Just like you and me, dairy cows perform best when they’re comfortable, able to socialize, and adequately nourished. Taking a virtual tour of Rickreall Dairy with farmer Louie, I learned how cow care, cow comfort and cow nutrition translate into nutritious milk.

Creature Comforts

Cow barns are designed with comfort in mind.  Cows spend an average of 12-14 hours per day lying down, whether they are on pasture or in a barn.  Bedding in the barn must offer good support and be appropriate for the temperature. As herd animals, cows prefer to live with other cows. Believe it or not, socialization helps cows develop stronger muscles and contributes to improved immunity. This can increase milk production and quality. 

Temperature control is important for cow comfort and health. Unlike humans, cows do not have many active sweat glands. Cows reduce body temperature through their breath, which is a lot of work! Farmers keep their cows cool with fans and sprinkler or mister systems. When it’s cold, barns can be temporarily closed to hold heat, bedding is changed frequently to remain clean and dry, and cow jackets may be used – functional and fashionable!

Mealtime in the “Calf”eteria 

Diet is important because it can affect the quantity and quality of the milk produced. Cows always have access to nutritious feed. It’s usually a combination of grasses, grains, and other ingredients that provide them with the right balance of nutrients. Farmers work with cow nutritionists to make sure their cows have a balanced diet that is appropriate for their age. Louie’s nutritionist visits the farm every two weeks to make sure the cows’ diets are just right and the cows are healthy.

The Parlor

Cows are often milked in buildings commonly known as the “milking parlor.” Typically, the parlor is very calm, quiet, and efficient, because cow comfort is just as important here.  Cows are milked for a short time each day, between 5 and 10 minutes, two or three times a day.  Employees escort the cows into milking stalls, then clean, dry and disinfect the cow’s udder before attaching a mechanical milking machine. Milking machines are more sanitary, more comfortable for the animal, and allow for more accurate output recording. They automatically detach when milk flow slows and the udder is empty. While cows are away from the barn for milking their barns are cleaned, like room service!

Milk is ‘udderly’ full of benefits!

As a Graduate student studying nutrition and diet, I know healthy dietary patterns include a variety of nutrient-dense foods and beverages. Milk, cheese and yogurt are nutrient-dense foods recommended by the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans because they provide protein, vitamins, minerals, and other health-promoting components. I enjoy dairy for its flavor and healthfulness. After virtually touring Rickreall Dairy with farmer Louie and learning about how animals are cared for to produce healthy milk, I’ve found that milk is even more tasty! 

Katlyn Wolf is currently a Master’s student in the Dietetic Nutrition Program at Oregon State University. She recently worked as a Dietetic Intern for the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council in 2021.

Additional Resources:

VIRTUAL TOURS BRING DAIRY FARMS TO THE CLASSROOM

FARMING WITH INNOVATION AND HEART EARNS NATIONAL AWARD FOR RICKREALL DAIRY

DAIRY ENLIGHTENING: EDUCATIONAL LEADERS TOUR CLOUD CAP FARMS

GET CONNECTED WITH DAIRY EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES ONLINE

FUNNY QUESTIONS, SERIOUS IMPACTS ON DAIRY TOURS

Which Flavor Do You Favor? Four Oregon Dairies Selling Milk at the Source

Imagine picking up your milk in glass bottles directly from the dairy farm as the cows are mooing in the background – or having your milk delivered right to your door. Although this may sound like a treasured memory from your grandmother’s past, four dairy farms in Oregon are bringing forward these time-honored traditions with some delicious options. 

Whole, pasteurized milk that is not homogenized is commonly called “creamline milk.” When the milk is homogenized, the healthy fats that occur naturally in milk are broken down to distribute evenly throughout the gallon. In non-homogenized milk, that healthy fat rises to the top to create a line of cream. Before homogenization was invented in 1899 milk drinkers would shake their milk to distribute the cream.

Milk’s nutrition benefits also come in many tasty flavors!  Like “Schocolate” Milk from Schoch Dairy & Creamery, Vanilla Latte Milk from Royal Riverside Farm, or Banana Milk from Lady Lane Farm. You can even get seasonal flavors like Blackberry Milk from Rising Sun Dairy. 

Although some grocery stores carry creamline and small batch flavored milk, you can also buy your favorite dairy products and more right at the farm! Check out the list below for an option near you. 

Lady Lane Farm (Garry’s Meadow Fresh)

Mulino, Oregon 

Hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the winter

Address: 13025 Mulino Rd., Mulino

  • Whole, pasteurized milk in glass bottles
  • Whole, pasteurized “Brown Cow Delight” chocolate milk in glass bottles 
  • Whole, pasteurized cappuccino milk in glass bottles
  • Reduced Fat pasteurized milk in glass bottles     
  • Skim pasteurized milk in glass bottles
  • Unsalted, Salted, Garlic and Honey Farm Fresh Butter
  • Farm Fresh Eggs
  • Farm Fresh Beef 
  • Farm Fresh Pork
  • Artisan Cheese curds and a variety of wedges
  • Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry, Butter Pecan, Cookies and Cream, Banana Cream Pie, Mint    
  • Chocolate Chip (and many more) Old Fashioned Homemade Ice Cream 

Rising Sun Dairy

Turner, Oregon

Hours: Tuesday and Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Address: 12092 Parrish Gap Rd, SE, Turner

  • Whole, pasteurized A2A2 milk in glass bottles
  • Skim, pasteurized A2A2 milk in glass bottles
  • Whole, pasteurized A2A2 chocolate milk in glass bottles
  • Whole, pasteurized A2A2 strawberry milk in glass bottles
  •  30% Whip Cream

Royal Riverside Farm

Albany, Oregon

Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. by appointment

Address: 36042 Riverside Dr. SW, Albany 

  • Whole, pasteurized milk in glass bottles
  • Whole, pasteurized chocolate milk in glass bottles
  • Whole, pasteurized strawberry milk in glass bottles
  • Whole, pasteurized vanilla latte milk in glass bottles
  • Soft Serve Ice Cream
  • Fresh Eggs
  • Farm fresh pork
  • Farm fresh ground beef

Schoch’s Dairy and Creamery

Hillsboro, Oregon

Hours: Seven days a week, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Address: 24335 NW Union Rd, Hillsboro 

  • Whole, pasteurized milk in glass bottles
  • Whole, pasteurized “Schocolate” milk in glass bottles
  • Eggs
  • Artisan Swiss cheese from Helvetia Creamery


In closing, here are some quick tips. When visiting a farm, watch for signage, and park in designated areas.  Avoid wandering into other parts of the farm without permission. Practice social distancing and bring a mask to ensure safety. Lastly, some farms take cash only, and if you aren’t going straight home from the farm, be sure to bring a cooler with some ice for safe storage. 

RELATED LINKS:

MILK DELIVERY RETURNS TO ITS ROOTS

THE MAGIC OF MILK: HOW TO KEEP YOUR MILK FRESH

NINE REASONS TO ENJOY REAL MILK IN YOUR HANDCRAFTED COFFEE DRINK

Milk delivery returns to its roots

What’s old is new again as companies like Milk Run and Alpenrose bring back milk deliveries of the past with a new twist.  Vans splashed with colorful logos and full of local milk and produce are bringing the farm directly to your doorstep so that you can experience the fresh taste of locally harvested food.

Alpenrose, a dairy that began in 1916 in Portland, recently returned to it’s milk delivery roots this August by delivering daily milk and produce within the Portland metro area. You won’t get milk in glass bottles, but it’s easy to order through their website or mobile app.

“It’s been nearly 40 years since our trucks delivered fresh milk to the area,” said Josh Reynolds, general manager for Alpenrose. “We are ready to bring back a new, modern twist on home delivery.”

Customers can order dairy products, along with an array of produce that includes coffee from Stumptown, blackberries from Hurst’s Farm and Spielman’s bagels.

Milk Run, the brainchild of farmer Julia Niiro, started with a question: How could farmers bring fresh food from their farms directly to their neighbors?  Niiro, a partner with Revel Meat Co. in Canby, OR, reached out to a handful of neighboring farms to join her in answering it.  A few short years later, Milk Run operates in Portland and Seattle and works with over 200 farmers across Oregon to supply it’s rapidly growing customer base.  

With more people stuck at home due to quarantining, Milk Run saw an opportunity to shrink the gap between farmers and consumers and educate prospective locavores. “I think that the tactile experience of getting the food in our Milk Run box is the teaching tool for understanding what can be experienced locally.” said Lilly Harris, Operations Manager for Milk Run.  

Alongside favorite staples like Sourdough Boules from Grano Bakery, fresh eggs from Trent Family Farms and Gravenstein Apples from Kiyokawa Orchards, dairy lovers will be happy to see locally produced milk, cheese, butter, yogurt, cream cheese, sour cream and more.  Participating farms and processors include TMK Creamery, Garry’s Meadow Fresh, Nancy’s, Organic Valley, Larsen’s Creamery, Lulubelle’s Creamery, Briar Rose Creamery, Cascadia Creamery and Willamette Valley Cheese.” 

“We can think about local food abstractly,” said Harris, “But having it delivered to your doorstep and opening a box of local produce is a totally different experience. You’re able to see what’s in season and learn why it’s important to cherish the produce when it’s fresh and ripe.”

Farmers seem to be responding in kind to the local demand for their products. Lulubelle’s, one of Milk Run’s dairy purveyors, will soon be producing new products like Half & Half and Heavy Cream for it’s online customers.

In working directly with farmers, Harris commented, “I think farmers are the most grounded, intelligent people that we could possibly work with.  They’re knowledgable about their craft and excited to share what they produce with consumers.  I love being able to provide that conduit for their excitement and knowledge.” 

Nine Reasons to Enjoy Real Milk in Your Handcrafted Coffee Drink

These days, there are a lot of choices when it comes to ordering barista-crafted beverages, and it isn’t just about flavored syrups. Most of that latte, mocha or cappuccino you enjoy is comprised of milk (or alternatives), and at $4 to $6 a cup it’s an investment that you want to get right.

As individuals, we certainly have our own choices, and there are plenty of reasons to proudly order real milk in your favorite coffee beverage. Here are nine of them:

1. Enjoy a Perfect Pairing

Many baristas prefer to use real milk for specialty coffee drinks. It has the right taste, creamy texture, and foams consistently when steamed because of its richness in protein.

2. Get Real

Milk has one of the cleanest labels around. What you see is what you get, so you know exactly what you’re drinking when you order real milk.

3. Consider the Footprint

About 90% of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. are from transportation, power generation, industry, commercial and residential. Yet U.S. dairy’s impact is estimated at just two percent, and dairy farmers just keep improving their practices.

4. Buy Local

On average, real milk travels less than 100 miles from cow to coffee shop.

5. Choose Sustainability

Dairy farmers are sustainable by nature. Their cows can eat food that humans can’t or don’t want to eat and upcycle it into milk. Farmers recycle water, use manure as natural fertilizer, regenerate their lands and some even generate renewable natural gas and electricity.

6. Boost Your Economy

The dairy industry provides jobs and pays for services that support families in our rural communities. Dairy processing jobs also pay higher on average than others in the food processing sector, and those wages are spent locally.

7. Drink Nutrients

Nutrient-dense milk is often called nature’s perfect beverage. It is packed with nine essential nutrients and is an especially good source of protein and calcium.

8. Support Cow Care

Dairy cows are well cared for. Farmers know that when they treat their cows well, the cows perform better. In addition to a nutritious diet and healthcare, many enjoy back scratchers, waterbeds, and climate-controlled shelters.

9. Save Money

Real milk is affordable and a great value.

Dairy farmers work 365 days a year (366 days in 2020) to bring milk and dairy products to your local coffee shops, grocery stores and kitchen tables. They take great pride in caring for their employees, animals and natural resources. So the next time you order a triple “mochalatteccino” or whatever your go-to order is, make sure you ask for real milk, and raise a toast to your local dairy farmers!

Splish Splash If You Don’t Do the Math: The 2019 Milk Carton Boat Race

Will it float? That question typically gets an immediate answer at the Milk Carton Boat Race when kids, adults and entire teams of people climb onto handmade boats whose buoyancy depends entirely upon recycled milk jugs and cartons. Surprisingly, most of them not only float but prove to be stable and swift.

Royal Rosarians’ Milk Carton Boat Race
A Portland Rose Festival tradition since 1973
Sunday, June 23; 11 a.m.
Westmoreland Park Casting Pond, SE McLoughlin Blvd and Bybee Blvd
Cost: FREE!

“There’s a tried and true formula — a one gallon jug supports eight pounds and a half-gallon supports four pounds,” said Josh Thomas, Senior Director of Communications for the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council. “It’s splish splash if you don’t do the math.”

The event is 100% free to attend and compete, and there are awards for speed and originality. While time is getting short to build a boat, it isn’t too late to enter and compete.

“I have even seen people finishing their boats on the morning of the event,” said Thomas. He suggests collecting jugs and cartons from local coffee shops, restaurants, cafeterias, friends and family – and stocking up on duct tape.

While creativity is certainly encouraged, there are rules on size and all boats must be human-powered. Participants who choose not to keep their boats for future years will be encouraged to dismantle and recycle them at their home. For the race categories, rules and registration, visit the official Royal Rosarians’ Milk Carton Boat Race event page today.

The Milk Carton Boat Race is produced by the Royal Rosarians and presented by the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council.

RELATED LINKS:

Milk Carton Boat Race Rules and Registration

How to Build A Boat

A Fun Aerial View of the Pond

Milk to the Rescue: Addressing an Ongoing Need

It’s a staple of American households and often tops the grocery list, but for many low-income families, having milk in the refrigerator can be a rarity. According to the Great American Milk Drive, people served by food banks receive less than one gallon per person per year on average. In Oregon, that statistic is changing.

Thanks to an influx of milk provided through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Emergency Food Assistance Program, the Oregon Food Bank network has been distributing nutritious skim, 1%, 2%, and whole milk every week to local families and individuals. So far, this has totaled nearly 160,000 gallons.

While it is great news, this did pose some challenges due to perishability, refrigeration capacity and logistics. In what they described as ‘a flurry of activity,’ Oregon Food Bank staff welcomed the distribution challenge and overcame stumbling blocks in coordination with Oregon’s 20 regional food banks to get the product in and out to communities as quickly as possible.

“This is a highly valuable and needed product across our region, and we’ve gotten really strong support from our partners in adjusting systems and processes that allow us to accept incredibly high volumes of milk,” said Gretchen Miller, Sourcing and Operations Strategist for Oregon Food Bank. “It’s more than we ever have in the past. What we’re happiest about is that we’re able to get fresh, high quality milk into the food insecure communities we serve.”

This milk provides a temporary supply to meet ongoing demand, and there are still long term needs to be addressed when it comes to fighting hunger in Oregon. You can help make a difference by contributing to the Oregon Food Bank and/or the Great American Milk Drive.

Reflecting on the Year of Milk

Amidst the excitement of heading into 2018, we’re reflecting on a memorable year that marked the anniversary of milk’s selection as Oregon’s Official State Beverage. We called it the “Year of Milk,” and it was a celebration 20 years in the making.

It all started back in 1997, when Bruce Cardin’s sixth grade students at East Elementary School in Tillamook felt strongly that milk should be Oregon’s state beverage. They traveled to Salem twice to testify in support of the designation, and Senate Joint Resolution 8 became official in April 1997.

Fast forward to 2017, and some of those same students returned to Salem for Dairy Day at the Capitol in March for a reunion with Mr. Cardin and some of the legislators who helped pass the resolution. Governor Kate Brown signed a proclamation designating April 2017 as Oregon Milk Month, which served as the beginning of a series of events and observances celebrating milk and Oregon’s dairy farmers, dairy food processors and dairy cows.

Through Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom’s Literacy Project about milk and presentations by Dairy Princess Ambassadors at Oregon AgFest, students learned more about milk and its role in their diet. Milk was also celebrated at events including the Milk Carton Boat Race, the Tillamook Dairy Festival and Parade, the Oregon State Fair and Oregon’s Bounty. Observances included June Dairy Month, National Ice Cream Month and Hunger Action Month for the Great American Milk Drive.

While the Year of Milk has come to an end, we look forward to two additional landmark anniversaries in 2018. It will be the 100th anniversary of the Oregon Dairy Council and the 75th anniversary of the Oregon Dairy Products Commission. So there will be plenty more reasons to raise a toast with a cold glass of milk in the year ahead.

And now a special message from the director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture, Alexis Taylor …

RELATED LINKS

 

Oregon Dairy Farms Milking Energy from the Sun

Steve Pierson of Sar-Ben Farms

For Steve Pierson of Sar-Ben Farms in St. Paul, Oregon, any project that is good for the environment and good for his bottom line generally is a go. That said, when the opportunity arose to install solar panels on his 300-cow dairy, Pierson didn’t hesitate.

Today Sar-Ben’s milking parlor and irrigation systems are powered by the sun.

“From a business perspective and an environmental perspective, solar panels make a lot of sense,” Pierson said.

Across the state in Vale, Oregon, where sunny days are the norm, Warren Chamberlain of Dairylain Farms also found that solar panels could help him meet his power needs in an environmentally friendly manner. Today, after five years of enjoying reduced energy costs, he’s a firm believer in the power of the sun.

Warren Chamberlain of Dairylain Farms

“As dairy farmers, we do whatever we can to protect the environment,” he said, “and because we have a lot of sun over here on the east side of the state, solar panels just seemed like a natural fit.”

Between solar panels and methane digesters that convert cow waste into renewable energy, dairy farmers are providing a significant boost to Oregon’s renewable power supply, according to Energy Trust of Oregon.

About one-fourth of dairy waste from Oregon’s 228 dairies is converted to renewable power through methane digesters, according to Energy Trust of Oregon. And many operations are now turning to solar panels.

Melissa Collman of Cloud Cap Farms, a 200-cow dairy in Boring, Oregon, looked at installing solar panels for seven years before making the move in the spring of 2017. “For years, we thought it would be a great addition to the dairy,” Collman said, “but we never went through with it because of the cost and complexity of it.”

“All farmers are environmentalists at heart.”

When a company approached the dairy with an offer to install the solar panels and even rent the land they are sited on, Cloud Cap made the change. Cloud Cap won’t have access to the power generated by the panels for the first 15 years, but the benefits apparently are worth the wait. “At that point, once we take ownership of them, it should completely power the dairy,” Collman said.

Melissa Collman of Cloud-Cap Farms

Cloud Cap’s deal is one of many that dairy farmers have used to purchase solar systems. Many have utilized state and federal renewable energy grants to help defray some of the upfront costs.

Depending on the formula and the amount of kilowatts a system generates, the systems can pay for themselves in a relatively short period. Pierson of Sar-Ben Farms, for example, said the three ten kilowatt systems he installed will pay for themselves within four years. A more typical payback period is the seven years that Bouke deHoop of Holland’s Dairy in Klamath Falls estimates it will take for him to recoup his investment in solar.

Systems typically are installed on less productive farmland, and, according to Chamberlain of Dairylain, don’t take up much land to begin with. The two ten kilowatt systems on his farm run about 100 feet in length, he said.

Systems are relatively maintenance free after the installation, Chamberlain said. “All we have to do is wash the dust off during the summer a little bit and knock the snow off during the winter,” he said. “Other than that, we haven’t had to do anything to them. They just sit out there and produce electricity for me.”

Bouke deHoop of Holland’s Dairy

Most solar systems won’t power an entire operation, but are designed to supply a portion of a farm’s energy needs. That portion, however, can be significant. Chamberlain said that over the five years he’s run on solar power, he has saved about $35,000 in electricity costs, or about $7,000 a year.

Beyond that, Chamberlain noted, he’s also been reducing his carbon footprint, which is something he and other dairy farmers take pride in. “Anytime you are able to save money and do something that is good for the environment, it always makes you feel good,” he said.

“I think farmers are always looking for ways to be more sustainable,” said Collman of Cloud Cap Farms.

Pierson of Sar-Ben Farms agreed: “All farmers are environmentalists at heart. This is just one more way we help protect our environment. We use renewable resources whenever possible.”

Milk Celebrated as Official Beverage of Oregon, OSAA

Milk is the official beverage of the Oregon School Activities Association

The following was distributed in a news release from the Oregon School Activities Association on September 27, 2017:

Today, the Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA) recognized Oregon’s dairy farm families for their ongoing support of the state’s schools, coaches and athletes. An open thank you note to dairy farmers was posted on the OSAA’s social media accounts, recognizing the 20th anniversary of milk as Oregon’s state beverage.

Milk has been Oregon’s Official State Beverage since 1997, and a statewide celebration has been recognizing the 20th anniversary with observances statewide including a special proclamation by Governor Kate Brown. Since milk has also been the official beverage of the Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA) since 2011, it was only natural to join in the celebration.

“Our organization appreciates local dairy farmers,” said Peter Weber, Executive Director for the OSAA. “For the milk and food our coaches and athletes use for fueling and recovery, and for the ongoing support these farmers provide to the OSAA and schools and communities across the state.”

Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council is the second longest running sponsor of the OSAA with a partnership that has been in place for approximately 22 years. Events and activities are supported with funding provided by Oregon dairy farmers and dairy food processors while promoting the healthy benefits of milk to 120,000 student participants across the state.

“It is a good fit, because for peak performance in school activities, students need good nutrition throughout the day, every day,” said Anne Goetze, Sr. Director of Nutrition Affairs for ODNC. “Milk provides the protein and nutrients that students and athletes need in a perfect package.”

About the Oregon School Activities Association:

The Oregon School Activities Association (www.osaa.org) is a private nonprofit, board governed association comprised of 290 member high schools. The OSAA, a member of the National Federation of State High School Associations, annually sponsors 116 state championships in 19 sports and activities. Follow the OSAA at www.facebook.com/osaasports, on Twitter @OSAASports and Instagram @OSAASports.

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