Cow to Carton
Step 1: Cow Comfort and Care
Dairy farmers take great pride in providing Canadians with safe, high quality milk. And it all begins with taking good care of their cows every day. This includes providing their animals with nutritious diets, good veterinary care, and healthy living conditions.
- Dairy farmers feed their cows nutritionally-balanced feed. They use the services of cow nutritionists! Most feed is produced on the farm. Cows also have access to unlimited fresh, clean water.
- Dairy farmers have a relationship with vets to maintain optimal health in their herds.
- Cows like to lie down for up to 9-12 hours a day. So when they want to rest, they have access to clean, comfortable bedding with plenty of room for movement.
- Dairy farmers closely monitor barns to ensure comfortable air temperature, ventilation, and lighting for cows.
Step 2: Milking Time
A cow produces milk after giving birth to a calf. Dairy cows are milked 2-3 times a day, which gives dairy farmers the opportunity to give each cow individual attention and close observation. Cows like routine and eagerly make their way to the milking parlour at their usual milking times.
Before a cow is milked, the cow’s teats are thoroughly cleaned. Then the milking unit is attached to the cow with care.
All milking equipment is cleaned with hot water and food-grade cleaning solution after each milking.
Step 3: Keeping Milk Cold
When cows are milked, the milk goes directly from the milk pipeline system to the milk tank, which is located in the farm’s milk house. The tank cools the milk immediately and keeps it at a constant temperature of 4 degrees Celsius to ensure freshness and quality. Milk is stored on the farm for no more than 2 days.
Step 4: Milk Transport and Delivery
A qualified milk tanker driver picks up milk at the farm every 1-2 days. The driver inspects and grades the milk to make sure it is cold, fresh, and clean. If the milk meets all requirements, the driver pumps it into an insulated stainless steel tanker truck and then transports it to the processing plant.
The driver also collects a sample of milk from each farm for testing and tracking purposes. The sample is sealed, labeled, and sent to the lab for quality testing.
Step 5: Milk Delivery to Plant and Testing
On the rare occasion that milk does not meet quality standards, which includes testing positive for antibiotic residues, the entire load of milk is rejected and properly discarded. It is not sold to the public. Because milk samples are collected at each farm, the farmer responsible is easily identified and must pay for all related costs for the proper disposal of the milk.
Did you know that rBST, a growth hormone for dairy cows, is not approved for sale in Canada?
Step 6: Milk Testing at the Lab
Every sample of milk the driver takes at the farm is transported to a lab for further quality testing. This testing allows farmers to be proactive, providing them with information to ensure the milk produced on their farm is of the highest quality. It also helps identify any possible concerns with the herd, so farmers can give their animals the highest level of care.
Step 7: Fresh Milk at a Store Near You
Milk is truly a local product! Most dairy farms in Manitoba are within an hour’s drive of a processing plant. And milk is transported in a way that decreases the amount of kilometers it travels to processing plants, reducing milk’s carbon footprint to help protect the environment.