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Producing Fresh, Local Milk: The Challenges for Small-scale Dairy Farmers

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Producing Fresh, Local Milk: The Challenges for Small-scale Dairy Farmers Empty Producing Fresh, Local Milk: The Challenges for Small-scale Dairy Farmers

Post by Sonshine on Thu Oct 15, 2009 3:21 am

http://www.motherearthnews.com/Sustainable-Farming/Dairy-Farmers-Iwig.aspx?utm_content=10.14.09+SLCS&utm_campaign=SLCS&utm_source=iPost&utm_medium=email

For northeast Kansas and beyond, Iwig Family Dairy produces some of the best fresh, local milk you’ll ever taste — including chocolate milk. Here, Courtney Iwig, daughter of the farm’s owner Tim Iwig, gains hands-on knowledge of the work involved in running a milk production and bottling business.
RICHARD GWIN/LAWRENCE JOURNAL-WORLD

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Image GalleryPrintE-mailCommentsRSS It’s hard to put a price on the value of fresh, local, hormone- and antibiotic-free milk that actually tastes like milk. When you know local dairy farmers who put their hearts and souls into their businesses and their communities, it’s heartbreaking to watch the current economic situation threaten their livelihoods.

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We recently caught up with longtime dairy farmer Tim Iwig of Iwig Family Dairy in Tecumseh, Kan., and picked his brain on what it’s like to produce and sell fresh, local milk at a time that’s been particularly hard on dairy farmers.

Tell us about your dairy, and how you got started.

I always wanted to milk cows. This dairy has been run by my family since 1910, and I watched my dad operate it with his two brothers until 1972. I wanted my own dairy business, but I was only 12 years old, so I practiced with dairy cows through the 4-H program.

I began my milk production business in 1983 and expanded to a bottling and retail service in 2005. My wife, Laurel, and I have been producing high-quality bottled milk, cream, butter, ice cream and ground beef to our community ever since.

Because it’s local, it’s fresher. Plus, we bottle our milk in glass — plastic containers contain unwanted chemicals that end up in the milk, and they make the milk taste like plastic. Glass also keeps the milk colder and cuts down on waste, because we wash and reuse the bottles.

Our cows are happy, healthy and well cared for. Our pasteurization is done at low temperatures for longer periods of time; a method that makes an enormous difference in the quality and taste of our products. All of our milk is free of artificial hormones such as rbST and rbGH, which are used to increase milk production in some herds and are rumored to have adverse effects on both human and cow health. Our milk is also free of antibiotics.

How much should one expect to invest to get started?

I started with my dad’s farm in 1983. I didn’t have to invest much, just about $40,000, but if you’re going to buy a farm and start from scratch, you can expect to spend close to half a million dollars or more. After that, there are some costs to maintain the herd’s health, but you can save a lot of money in vet bills if you learn how to take care of things such as calving yourself. The majority of my regular expenses come from the feed.

What types of housing and equipment would you consider essential?

You need the milking parlor and the milking equipment for the twice-daily milkings; a separator (which separates the cream from skim so we can make skim milk); a homogenizer to break the fat molecules down and keep them from rising to the top; a 500-gallon vat pasteurizer; a range of cooling equipment; a bottle filler; and a walk-in cooler

Please click on the link for the rest of the article.

_________________
Sonshine
He who cultivates his land will have plenty of food,
but from idle pursuits a man has his fill of poverty
Proverbs 28:19[b]
Sonshine
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