Dairy farmers are passionate people. They love their “girls”, and they have to – dairy farming is a 24-hour, 365-day per year job. Farmers are always looking for ways to take better care of their cows – literally, a happy cow enjoys better health and makes higher quality milk as the farmer’s reward for that care. Iet is a great lesson in “do it right the first time.”
The New York dairy industry is impressive – about 4,000 farms. Good to know – 97% of dairy farms are family farms. That includes Murcrest Farms – a multi-generation family farm in Copenhagen, N.Y. started in the 1940s that has grown from 150 cows to over 1,000.
The other important thing about dairy farmers is that they are always looking for ways to improve their main product – wholesome, delicious milk. They follow farming traditions, but like any business, they must also follow science and gather data to ensure milk meets high quality and safety standards.
Mark Murray is an energetic guy that has embraced this concept – he is using technology to benefit his family farm in whole new ways. For example, after milking, the milk is cooled and sent to a holding tank. If there is any change in the temperature of the tank, the tank monitoring system sends Mark a text on his phone. The latest technology effort – they are installing a system to monitor the cows’ activity – the cows are all getting their own “fitbit-type” trackers! These cows have a free stall barn, so they can move around as much as they want – knowing more about their activity and rest will help Mark and the farm team see quickly if something is changing for any of their girls, so they can take care of them quickly.
Milk quality is key to great cheese – Great Lakes has specific milk quality standards that must be met, or the milk is rejected before it even comes into the plant. Farmer Mark and assistant manager Nathan’s work is strongly connected – together they deliver delicious, great quality cheese to your plate. Mark himself walks about 15,000 steps per day – taking care of “everything with a heartbeat – cows and people” – his father Lynn manages the 3,000 acres of crops they grow to feed the cows, and his mother Peggy and wife Sara both work on business management. Their pride in product and hard work ensures your family will enjoy the wonderful PICS cheddars we bring you every time!
Ellie Wilson, MS, RDN Senior Nutritionist