Tag Archives: cows

Future Chefs Learn Good Cheese Starts with the Cows

This week, a group of 13 aspiring chefs from Oregon Culinary Institute took a closer look at where cheese comes from by taking a field trip to the source. They visited TMK Farm and Creamery, a 20 cow dairy and boutique creamery located in Canby, Oregon.

“We support the farm to table movement by providing chefs and culinary students with the opportunity to visit a dairy farm,” said Anne Goetze, Sr. Director of Nutrition Affairs for the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council. “It was a perfect match, and they learned firsthand about all of the factors that go into producing high quality milk and dairy foods, including care for animals, land, water and air.”

Between milking cows and making cheese, it was truly an opportunity for hands-on learning. TMK Creamery hosted a cheese making class where students were able to join in the entire process of making queso fresco cheese. Queso fresco, which translates as “fresh cheese,” is the most widely used cheese in Mexican cooking.

From cutting the curds, draining the whey and actually milking the cow, all the steps were included. Education is the goal for TMK. They want students, especially in the culinary world to understand not only the process, but also the passion behind their artisan cheese.

“It all starts with a quality milk,” says Bert Garza, who makes the cheese alongside his wife Shauna, “and to get quality milk, you need to be caring for your animals.”

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TMK Farms and Creamery

Oregon Culinary Institute

Eight Questions for an Oregon Dairy Mom

Mary Chamberlain is a dairy farmer alongside her husband, Jason, and in-laws Warren and Lori, at Dairylain Farms in Vale, Oregon. Mary and Jason have three boys between the ages of one and seven, and she coaches a cross country running team at the local high school. We asked Mary eight questions about her life as a farmer, community volunteer, and a mother.

Why do you farm?

It’s a family tradition that goes back to our great-grandparents. I was raised on a dairy farm, and I married a dairy boy. It only made sense to work on his parent’s dairy and raise our kids to love dairy cows as much as we do. Raising calves, fostering them to cows, and giving them what they need to produce wonderful milk — that is the pretty basic description of what we do. But in reality it’s so much more.

When our first born arrived, I tried to stay home, but the farm needed an extra set of hands. I found myself pushing a stroller along as I fed calves, vaccinated cows, or checked heifers. Now on our third child, we start our mornings by heading to the barn to get milk to feed the calves, and end our day checking on the robots (we added robotic milkers last July). I’m very proud to have my boys working with us every day.

What’s life like for your kids on the farm?

They all have different levels of love for the farm and our way of life. My one-year-old just loves to watch the cows, and of course, sample their food.

Dairylain_2017_2048My four-year-old plays for hours with his farm toys in the sandbox. Every once in a while we catch bits of his make-believe land, where he is the ‘dad’ and he drives his loader and feeds the cows. We even get hints of a girl he likes as she makes an appearance in this pretend world to feed baby calves. When he isn’t in the sandbox, he loves to follow his dad around or ride along while I check on the heifers.

Our seven-year-old is starting to connect the dots that feeding animals and taking care of them is essential for them to not just survive but to helps us survive. When an animal is born, he is one of the first to let us know, and then help his dad move her to the barn. He helps with every task on the dairy. Some he hates (he thinks feeding calves is too boring) and others he loves (like picking out animals to train for fair).

And you’re also involved in your local schools?

Yes, I’m the local cross country head coach, and I substitute teach when I can (which is a bit rare these days with a one year old). Before my boys, I ran marathons and did triathlons all over the country. These days, it’s important for me to stay fit for my sanity and my health. Coaching running is great way to give back to the community and teach kids a way to deal with their own stress and worries.

With a master’s degree in dairy science and a love for running, I’m a bit of a quirky sub. I encourage getting outside to do work. I believe there is this huge connection to moving and learning that we don’t utilize in the classroom.

How important is nutrition to your family and your cows?

Dairylain Farms Chamberlain jerseyAs a three time mom in her 30s who still runs and bikes when she can, what’s in my food and my boys’ food is a concern. We all burn a lot of calories. I don’t want any food around that is just going to give a quick energy high and then leave me with a headache and cranky kids. Protein, carbohydrates, digestible and usable sugars, vitamins and minerals: that’s what I look for in all my food, and I try to balance the levels based on what we need and when we need it.

Good nutrition is also important to our cows. They are sort of like a pro-athlete; they will burnout if they don’t train and eat right. We feed the cows to increase milk supply naturally by giving them the correct amount of energy, protein, vitamins, and minerals (and plenty of water). We have to make sure their nutrition allows them to milk plenty but doesn’t deplete their bones and body.

Do you use antibiotics or hormones?

Out of 375 milking animals, we have only one that’s getting antibiotics right now. We use antibiotics on our dairy according to the label, and no antibiotics are allowed to enter the food supply. If she gets an antibiotic shot, her milk gets dumped.

I think there is a misconception that as dairy farmers we are constantly giving shots for sickness. Really we give very few. My one year old has received more doses of antibiotics for ear infections this winter than we gave the entire milking herd for the same four months. We all work hard to give our animals the best chance to fight colds and viruses on their own. When they can’t, we call the vet and get the medication they need.

As for hormones, cows don’t need additional hormones to make them give more milk, they have enough natural ones.

How do you take care of your cows and calves?

Dairylain calf feedingWe feed them, ensure they are safe, healthy and comfortable, and we provide clean homes and bedding. We give the calves blankets and warm water in the winter and cold water in the summer. Sometimes when my kids are sick, it’s hard to leave the house to work at the dairy. But the cows and calves need us too.

Cows are not humans, and sometimes they can hurt or neglect their calves. So to the calves, we are their foster parents. They depend on us to understand their language, like a wagging tail and licking tongue means ‘I’m good!’ — droopy eyes and not getting up right away means something doesn’t feel right.

How do you care for the environment?

Improving the land around us is a big priority. Since we grow our own crops for the cows to eat, there is always plenty of land that could use more nutrients. We sample the soil to decide where nutrients are needed and that’s where we spread manure from our pens and barns. It’s natural, organic fertilizer.

We ensure that the water used in our barns for cooling milk is recycled, so the cows can have plenty to drink. We are constantly looking for ways to reduce waste in all forms and recycle what we can. We use solar powered electric fences to keep the heifers in, and solar powered pumps to run our pivots to keep the fields watered and the grass growing.

Are there any parting thoughts that you’d like people to know?

Dairylain_2017_1972Just as none of us are perfect parents, there are no perfect farmers. But we honestly do the best we can do on this day, and hope for the same or better tomorrow. Every day is another chance to do even better. I trust what we do, what my neighbors do, and what our fellow friends and dairy farmers across the country do. We are proud of the quality foods that we help bring to your table and ours!

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Seven Things You Should Know About Large Dairies

Larger Farms

Oregon has 228 family dairy farms, ranging from fewer than 100 cows being milked each day to more than 30,000. Regardless of the size of the farm, there are certain values, standards and management practices that every Oregon dairy farmer has in common.

Farm size does not determine farm quality. It’s a misperception that larger farms are somehow not as good for the animals, environment, employees or community. Here are seven things you should know about large dairy farms:

environment1 They are good stewards of the air, land and water. No matter how many cows they milk, farmers care for their land and their natural resources. It’s important to them to do the right thing and be good neighbors and members of the community and they take the initiative to do so by voluntarily implementing best management practices on their own.
farmers work with nutritionists and veterinarians2 Their cows are well cared for. Dairy farmers’ commitment to providing high quality milk begins with taking good care of their cows. On farms of all sizes, farmers work with nutritionists and veterinarians to provide a nutritious diet, great medical care and healthy living conditions. Cow comfort is key to a farmer’s livelihood.
State and federal standards3 They follow the rules. Large farms must meet state and federal standards, and they face the same kinds of regulations and oversight as smaller farms. They have regular inspections of their operations to check for and ensure compliance. Dairy is one of the most highly regulated industries in the U.S.
Sustainability and efficiency4 Sustainability is not just a buzzword. Farmers are innovating and working toward a sustainable future. They are increasingly working smarter with robotics, automated feeders, methane digesters, precision agriculture, solar panels and beneficial use of waste to increase efficiency and reduce impacts. Large scale farms allow optimal use of scarce resources such as water, energy and land.
Milk testing5 Food safety starts at the farm. Milk is one of the most tested and regulated food products, and all farmers employ rigorous standards, practices and procedures to ensure that it is kept pure, cold and safe. Farmers are held personally responsible for the quality of the milk that comes from their farms.
Josi family6 Oregon dairies are family owned. Even the largest Oregon dairies are family owned. Dairy farmers take great pride in their work, and they want to continue working on the same land so they can continue providing the nutritious food that we enjoy and depend on. It is their legacy.
Milk cheese yogurt7They coexist alongside smaller farms. Large farms support smaller farmers and vice versa. Not all farms produce milk for the same processors or the same dairy products or the same consumer markets. There is room for farms of all sizes and types – organic and conventional – to thrive.

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Meet the Miramontes Family: First Generation Oregon Dairy Farmers

In agriculture, farms are typically passed down from generation to generation – and dairy farms are no exception. These days, it’s unusual for a dairy farmer to start their own dairy. But that’s just what Jesús and Emma Miramontes did eight years ago.

Jesús at Miramontes DairyAfter spending 27 years caring for other dairy farmers’ cows, Jesús looked at his wife Emma one day and said, “Why don’t we just get our own cows and go for it?” So they did. They started Miramontes Farm with 80 cows and through hard work, excellent cow care, and teamwork, they are now milking 400 cows in Grants Pass, Oregon.

Before coming to the United States as teens, the Miramontes’ farming roots started in Mexico where Emma’s grandmother had a few farm animals. Jesús really enjoys the cows. He’s had strong mentorship from dairy farmers along the way who taught him about animal husbandry. For Emma, she loves caring for the calves. “I read a lot of [trade] magazines for information. It’s how we learn. There’s something new to learn every day,” she said.

When asked about some important lessons they have learned over the years, Emma responded without hesitation, “Working as a team.” Jesús and Emma have built their dairy while raising their three children, Manuel, Nancy, and Noah. She said there are good days and bad days in the dairy industry, but regardless the Miramontes family comes together as a team.

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Outstanding in His Field: Noah Miramontes on Dairy Farming and Soccer

Outstanding in His Field: Noah Miramontes on Dairy Farming and Soccer

Soccer Ball Miramontes Dairy

What’s black and white and can be found in a field? A Holstein cow or a soccer ball would both be correct answers – and ninth grader Noah Miramontes knows his way around either one.

As the son of first generation dairy farmers Jesús and Emma Miramontes, Noah has grown up on his family dairy near Grants Pass, Oregon. In addition to working hard alongside his parents on the farm, Noah Miramontes is now a freshman varsity soccer player for North Valley High School.

Making the varsity team wasn’t easy, especially as a freshman. He attributes his success to the lessons he’s learned on the farm and to eating healthy.

Noah Miramontes“The values I learned growing up and working with my family have helped me with success on the soccer team,” said Noah. “Values such as being a team player, keeping an open mind and not trying to control fellow teammates.”

There are so many tasks to complete in any given day on a dairy farm, Noah understands that routine is important as is every pair of hands and feet. Just like soccer. Farm work has also helped him prepare for any weather conditions as well as the hard work and physical demands that comes with playing competitive soccer.

When he’s not working, practicing or playing in a game, Noah enjoys snacking on fruit with peanut butter and washes it down with plenty of milk. In fact, Noah’s favorite dairy product is milk – especially chocolate milk. He recognizes the importance of nutrition to help make him strong so he can continue to improve.

While his big brother and sister have both left the farm to pursue their own passions, Noah knows he has at least a few more years of farm chores ahead of him. But he’s not complaining.

“If we didn’t have a farm, I don’t think I would get to hang out with my mom as often,” said Noah. “Growing up on a farm gives me some great moments with my mom.”

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Meet the Miramontes Family: First Generation Oregon Dairy Farmers

Dairy Farms Come in All Shapes and Sizes

There are 228 family dairy farms in Oregon, and no two are exactly alike. Regardless of the farm size, location and history, there are certain values and standards that every Oregon dairy farmer has in common:

  • Dairy farmers’ commitment to providing high quality milk begins with taking good care of their cows. On farms of all sizes, farmers care for their cows by providing a nutritious diet, good medical care and healthy living conditions. Animal comfort is key to a farmer’s livelihood.
  • Environmental stewardship is important to all farmers, no matter how many cows they milk. Farmers care for their land and their natural resources. They usually live on the land where they farm.
  • It’s important to dairy farmers that they be good neighbors and members of the community.
  • Farmers and the industry are innovating and working toward a sustainable future. They are increasingly working smarter with automation, methane digesters, recycling, precision agriculture and solar panels to increase efficiency and reduce impacts.
  • Food safety starts at the farm. Milk is one of the most tested and regulated food products, and farmers employ rigorous standards, practices and procedures to ensure that it is kept pure, cold and safe.
  • Dairy farmers take great pride in their work, and they want the next generation to work on the same land so they can continue providing the nutritious food that we enjoy and depend on. It is their legacy.

There’s a common misperception that larger farms are somehow not as good for the animals or environment. However, the large scale farms allow optimal use of scarce resources such as water, energy and land. Large farms also face the same kinds of regulations and oversight as smaller farms. If you have questions about dairy farming, use our contact form and let us know.