The best cheese is made from the highest quality milk. To achieve that high quality we need healthy cows. We have a large variety of dairy breeds of cattle. Our colorful herd ranges from Jerseys to Ayrshires to Milking Shorthorns and any kind of cross in between. Our cows are out on pasture as much as possible, getting exercise and enjoying the fresh green grass. This diet gives our cows the best nutrients to make the perfect milk for our cheese.
Because we also sell raw milk, we send two samples for a lab test every month. These tests help us to know that all of our cows are producing high-quality milk. The test also shows us our butterfat, protein, and lactose levels. It is alway interesting to watch how they change over the summer and fall as the cows’ diet changes. Every spring, we have our whole herd checked by our veterinarian for Tuberculosis, Brucellosis, and Johnes. She also does a general herd health evaluation for our raw milk testing requirements.
We milk our cows once a day, allowing us to focus on making cheese rather than pushing our cows to produce extra milk. Our veterinarian commented this year that our cows look great for eating only grass. We like to think that our cows stay much healthier when we only milk them once a day. We’ve also noticed that we get higher cheese yields on once-a-day milking. Our cows seem to give a set amount of the butterfat and proteins that get turned into cheese, no matter how much milk they produce. Their milk is more concentrated, making it richer than standard whole milk.
Every day, the morning milking begins between 6-7 AM. During milking, we wash any dirt off the cow’s udder using a diluted bleach and soap solution. Next, we pre-strip each quarter to make sure her milk is clean and healthy. Then we wipe the udder dry with a clean paper towel, dip the udder with the cleaning solution a second time and then wipe the teats clean with a second paper towel. Only then is it time to put the milker on each cow. All of these steps help us to make sure our milk is as clean as possible for our raw milk customers and for making into our cheese.
Our cheese is a raw milk cheese, meaning that we do not pasteurize our milk before we use it for cheese making. Our cheese is also farmstead because we process the milk into cheese on the same farm where the cows live. We pump the milk directly from the milking parlor, through a filter, and into our cheese vat. The perfect temperature for starting cheese making is around 90℉. A cow’s body temperature is 101℉. By the time the milk travels from the parlor through stainless steel pipes, it is just right for starting the cheese making process. Now that we have a larger cheese vat and are processing everything the cows give, we also use milk stored in our bulk tank. We pump over previous days’ milk, heat it to the proper temperature and add the warm milk from that morning’s milking.
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