When you pick up that gallon of milk at the store, do you ever think about how it got there? Well the folks at Schneider Valley Farms, located in Williamsport, PA showed me and 15 others how it’s done. Schneider Valley supplies fluid milk, ice cream and sour cream to our Parkhurst and Cura locations in Central and Eastern Pennsylvania. They have been a FarmSource partner of ours since 2006 and when I asked them about providing an educational farm tour through a real working dairy farm, they were thrilled to oblige.
We started off at their processing facility where we had a chance to see how the milk was processed after it leaves the farm. I know that it would have made better sense to see the farm first, but the health department wouldn’t appreciate 22 dirty pairs of boots going through a clean processing facility.
The raw milk at the farm is picked up by a company called Dairy Marketing Services. DMS is responsible for hauling the milk from the farm to Schneider Valley Farms. They go to each independent family farm and pick up their milk and obtain one sample vial of that milk. After the driver has picked up milk from all of the farms on the route, they bring it to Schneider Valley to be processed. Before the milk is transferred into their 50,000 gallon silos, they test it for bacteria (which has to be below 300,000 ml) and check for any sign of antibiotics. If the bacteria count is above 300,000 and/or antibiotics are present, then the milk will be refused. The samples that were collected will then be tested. If the individual dairy had bacteria counts above 100,000 and/or antibiotics where present, the individual dairy will be charged for the entire load of milk.
So as you tell, cleanliness is a key ingredient when it comes to milking cows. After we completed the tour of the dairy, we boarded a bus and headed down the road to one of Schneider Valley’s milk providers. Owned and operated by 4 generations of the Paulhamus Family.
We were meant by the entire family and received a very educational tour by their daughter Amanda, who’s attending Veterinary School at Ohio State. We had a chance to see the milking parlor as well as the heifer barn. A heifer is a young female cow that has not borne a calf. These animals are kept out of the milking parlor until they’re capable of being milked. Which I’m told takes a few times before they are comfortable with having a milker on their teats.
The Paulhamus family and their 50 Holstein cows were great hosts, as they sent us away with a plate of buckeyes (chocolate covered peanut butter balls), which I’m told is an Ohio State mainstay.
My visit to Schneider Valley Farms and the Paulhamus family farm gave me a whole new appreciation for the milk that they produce. The folks that left this tour can now take pride in knowing that milk is coming from some of the highest-quality producers in the state, and at the same time, supporting local farmers.
To learn more about Schneider Valley Farms, visit their website at http://www.schneidersdairy.com/index2.htm
Until next time,