Where does your milk go? I get asked this question all the time once people here that we are dairy farmers. This usually leads to multiple questions so I thought I would write a post about it.
Here is a little background. A cow has to have a calf in order to produce milk. Most cows give birth around the age of two.
At our farm the milk truck comes every other day to pick the milk up and take it to the processing plant.
Our cows get milked three times a day and on average give somewhere between 8-9 gallons of milk a day. When a cow is about 60 days away from her due date we will “dry” her off and stop milking her so she can rest before she has her calf. Wouldn’t that be nice if it were true for humans, you wouldn’t have to “work” the last two months of your pregnancy?!
When the milk hauler is at the farm he will take a sample of the milk before he loads it on his truck. Once he arrives at the processing plant the milk sample and another sample from the truck will go to the lab located in the processing plant where they will test the milk for multiple things including freshness, antibiotics, added water etc. No milk is unloaded until the samples are tested and cleared from the lab.
Once the milk is unloaded it can be pasteurized, homogenized and bottled as milk or depending on the plant it can be processed into the other dairy products including cheese, yogurt, ice cream etc.
Our milk leaves the farm and travels south about 100 miles to Louisville Kentucky. That particular plant bottles milk which could end up in grocery stores in southern Indiana and Kentucky. Each plant has a code and every dairy product has the code printed on the packaging for the plant it came from. The code for the plant our milk goes to is 21-008. The first two numbers are the state code and the last numbers are the plant code.
Here is an example.
As you can see both the Dean’s milk jug and the Walmart brand jug were both bottled at the same plant. 18-1019, 18 is the state code for Indiana and 1019 represents the Rochester plant in Northern Indiana.
You can visit the website whereismymilkfrom.com to enter the plant codes you find on the dairy products in your fridge.
Once the milk/dairy products leaves the processing plant it travels to grocery stores, gas stations, schools etc. Where it can then be enjoyed by all of us!