Have you ever wondered how your milk gets from the farm to the dairy?
I spent the day with Wisconsin Milk Hauler, Lemke Brothers Trucking. My morning started at 4am to meet Pete in Jim Falls, Wisconsin. Pete is one of two owners of Lemke Brothers Trucking which is also located out of Jim Falls. The dairy we will be delivering to at the end of the day is also in Jim Falls. The dairy is owned by Associated Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI) and the Jim Falls plant’s main product is cheese.
From their website, AMPI is a dairy marketing cooperative owned by 3,000 dairy farmers who market 5.8 billion pounds of milk, resulting in $2 billion in annual sales. Members operate dairy farms located throughout the Midwest states of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota. The members own 12 manufacturing plants and market a full line of consumer-packaged dairy products.
The morning started well before sunrise. We drove north out of Chippewa County into Rusk County to our first farm. This farm had a long driveway that we needed to back down in the dark. Every farm is laid out different and the drivers get to know each one very well since some farms you can drive right in while others may require backing down long curvy driveways or can be a very tight fit. Once at the farm the driver positions his truck near the milk house. The milk house is usually part of the actual barn where the cows are milked, also known as the milking parlor, and it contains the milk bulk tank. When the cows are milked, the milk is transferred from the cow to the stainless steel bulk tank usually by a pump transferred through hoses and pipes. The cows are milked before the driver arrives to the farm. Once the driver is at the farm, they go into the milk house to make sure the milking process is done. The driver will also collect a milk sample to be tested and graded.
The driver’s truck has a high volume pump and hoses located in the back which is how they pump the milk into the trucks tank. The driver will then connect his trucks hose to the bottom of the bulk tank in the milk house and transfer the fresh milk into the truck. Once all the milk has been transferred the hose will be put back into the rear of the truck. The driver then will start the automatic tank cleaning and sanitation process which will completely clean the bulk tank. The farmer would have already cleaned the pipes, and hoses that are located in the barn and milk house. The driver will repeat this process at every farm until the truck is full. Once the truck is full, the driver will deliver the milk to a dairy which will weigh and test the milk. Once the driver gets the go ahead, they will off load the truck to the dairy. Once the truck has been completely unloaded, they will clean and sanitize the inside of the stainless tank on the truck. This is how your milk gets from the farm to the dairy and this is exactly what we did on this day.
You can also see my Portrait of a Wisconsin Farm Photography Project Here.
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