For the Love of Dairy

 Every day in the role of a retail dietitian  means variety! Some days it’s planning, some days executing, some days it’s learning and some days it’s just pure fun. We are so thankful for the Midwest Dairy Council for this fun exciting opportunity and also to those who took time away from their demanding schedules to teach a couple dietitians.

Brittany and I had the opportunity for a day of fun recently when we were invited to tour the Hiland plant and then a local dairy farm. We started the day at the plant with lunch and information on all things Hiland. After hair bonnets, removing jewelry and our crash course in safety we were on our way. We saw the milk truck being “unloaded” and how that process works. A typical milk truck holds about 5,000 gallons of milk. When it arrives, the milk tested using several methods before it’s accepted by Hiland. They check and double check things like taste, clear from bacteria, and temp checks to be sure the milk was held and transported at 45 degrees Fahrenheit or cooler.  After the milk is drained from the truck they put a giant fire hose type device in the tank that sprays the inside and sanitizes it.

Milk Truck being unloaded
Jessica, our dietetic intern Ashley, and Brittany rocking the bonnet!









Next, we moved into the area where the pasteurization takes place. This is where in large galvanized tanks they first skim off all the fat from the milk and then heat it from 35 degrees Fahrenheit up to 179 degrees Fahrenheit. This kills bacteria and extends the milk’s shelf life to 21 days versus the 6-7 days that raw milk gives.

The butter fat that they skim off the top of the milk is then used to make shake mixes, ice cream, butter and is added back into the “milk” depending on what type of milk they’re processing that day. Obviously, with skim milk they don’t add any of the fat back in.

We saw it all from the making of ice cream, melting of plastic molds to make the jug itself, filling the jugs and the labels being put on. The organization and cleanliness of the operation was amazing. Even the milk crates are run through a sanitation process

Our wonderful tour guide


So much goes into the operation it is overwhelming! To think that the company has to project all of our communities needs from schools to grocery stores to restaurants demands. Then they base their production days and times on those just makes my brain spin.

After we wrapped it up at the plant and of course swiped some ice cream for the road we headed to the farm! We toured Martin Prairie Farms located in Humansville, MO. We met and learned from a third generation farmer. His father and mother were there as well and discussed the milking processes before all the technology came along. We visited in the office at the farm which had a large window overlooking the milk barn where you could see the cows starting to line up to be milked.

On this 680 cow farm they milk the cows 3 times a day at 7AM, 3PM and 11PM and the typical cow gives about 6- gallons of milk per day.  When a cow lines up to milk the information from that cow regarding length of time milk, gallons received, etc. is downloaded from the cow into the computer based on a device placed on the cow. So much technology goes into farming which allows the farmer to detect a problem early on and keep their operation running as smooth as possible.

Looking out into the milk barn

This was such an interesting day that really was eye opening for Brittany and I. We learned so much that a simple blog post cannot capture it all. Be sure to use our “Ask a Dietitian” button on our web page if you have questions about hormones, antibiotics in dairy, etc. (or click on link below) There is so much to cover and we want to be sure to cater to your specific questions!

Every farm tour I’ve taken from dairy to pork to beef there is always one thing evident. The farmer’s really do have a passion for their animals. It’s their family’s livelihood and keeping their herd healthy and thriving means food on the table for them and means keeping their customers pleased. Thanks to this tour we can now better educate shoppers and the public on all things dairy! And, even though we are armed with the dairy knowledge now there is still SO much to learn and we are thankful for organizations like the Midwest Dairy Council to aid in our professional growth!

And don’t forget the booties!
Cows were too shy for a selfie








Eat Well