Tag Archives: food

The Milk Truck is Here!

Posted on Saturday, April 5, 2014 by Andrew

It’s a great job to be able to produce high quality milk, but what good is it if it doesn’t make it to you? Well, that isn’t something we have to worry about, in part thanks to our very loyal and very important milk truck.

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Our milk truck backs up to the barn every other day and can pick up as much as 34 000 litres from area farms.

Every other day, the milk truck backs up to the barn, ready to take another load of milk. The driver (usually Dennis or Chris for us) takes a look inside the milk tank to make sure it looks like good, wholesome milk.

Next, they turn on the agitator which is a big paddle inside the tank that stirs the milk up. They’ll also check to make sure the temperature of the milk is nice and cool, make sure the milk and milking system has been working properly over the last 48 hours (with the help of monitoring systems that make sure the milk was always cool and the equipment was washed). Next, they take another look inside the tank to make sure the milk looks like it should.

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Our milk tank has worked to keep the milk at a cool 3 degrees the last 48 hours, spinning every hour to make sure the cream doesn’t seperate.

Once the agitator stops stirring the milk, they measure how much milk is in the tank using a long pole that looks like a big ruler. That ruler is calibrated for our tank to tell the driver how many litres we have. Dennis or Chris then take a sample of the milk that is used to test for quality and make sure that nothing but pure milk is present. (If antibiotics were present, we would face enormous financial penalties and the entire truck load would be dumped)

The next big step is the big one: use a hose from the truck to hook up to the milk tank and pump the milk into the truck. This truck can hold 34 000 litres of milk collected from a number of area dairy farms. It will then be off to a processor to be made into a number of dairy products like yogurt, cheese, or even ice cream!. Most commonly, our milk heads off to Neilson Dairy in Georgetown, Ontario and can be found in all kinds of stores in bags and cartons labeled ‘milk’.

When our on-farm tank is empty and all the milk is on the truck, a wash system is turned on that will make sure the tank is sparkling by the time we are ready to milk the cows in the evening.

So, if you see a big milk truck heading down the road – give a wave to the driver who has an important step in making sure the milk gets from the farm to your fridge.

And as a note on some interesting numbers: In 2013 there were 207 milk trucks in Ontario picking up milk from 3980 dairy farms and delivering it to 71 processing plants.

Cheers!

What Does a Hen Eat?

Posted on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 by Steph N

Have you ever wondered what a laying hen eats? I’m sure when this first comes to mind you picture a hen in a long ago farm yard foraging for insects in the grass or picking up grain that an old farmer has scattered in the dust. But as nutrition and technology has improved for people, it has when it comes to an animal’s diet as well. 

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Feed is stored on farm in bins and transported through an auger system into the barn.

 

In order to keep our hens happy and healthy and laying eggs we want to make sure that they get all the nutrients that they need. To ensure this happens, they have a specially formulated diet which they have access to at all times. This diet is put together by poultry nutritionists at the feed mill where we buy our feed and can be in the form of a mash or in pellets. On my farm, as well as most Ontario poultry farms the diets will be mostly corn and soy based, with many trace minerals and vitamins within the feed, catering to all the nutritional needs that the hen has. Laying hens also use a lot of calcium for egg shell production and so need a good calcium source in their feed. This typically is provided through limestone, but if a flock is having trouble with shell quality, the feed can be topped up with oyster shell to ensure that they are getting enough.   

In the grocery store you may have noticed that there are several different kinds of eggs such as Omega-3 or Omega-Pro. On my farm we produce Omega-3 eggs and this is all to do with the diet that the hen consumes. Our feed has flax seed in it which allows the hen to put Omega-3 into the eggs she lays. For Omega-Pro eggs, the feed has fish oils in it as well so that the hen deposits even more Omega-3 into the eggs.  

A fun things you may have noticed in traveling, is that eggs in different parts of the country can sometimes have different coloured yolks. In the Prairies they are typically paler than eggs in Ontario because of the availability of the crops for the feed. In western Canada, wheat is a much more available energy source and so the yolks are pale. In Ontario, where corn is a much more common crop, it is used as the energy source and so the eggs have darker yolks. And, if you want a fancy word to impress your friends with, the darker yolk is because corn has high levels of the pigment xanthophyll. 

So, the next time you are eating eggs, you can not only be sure that you are getting proper nutrition, but also that the hen who laid that egg is as well.

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How Can a Farmer Keep Your Milk Cold?

Posted on Monday, August 19, 2013 by Andrew

     It is hard to find something that goes better with warm cookies than cold milk. Same with your cereal, a sandwich piled high, or even just as an afternoon thirst quencher. Really, it is hard to find something as good as that glass of cold, fresh milk. But have you ever thought about how it comes to be so cold and stay so fresh?

 

 

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     It starts at the cow – where it certainly doesn’t come cold. Our milking machines checks the temperature of the milk ion an ongoing basis as it gently milks the cow. Not only does it ensure quality milk, but it can be an early sign of an unhealthy cow when the milk is too hot or too cold. We look for 37.5-39.5 degrees Celsius. Talk about fresh! (Also recorded is how much milk the cow has given and how long it has taken. It even draws a graph to compare how many kilograms are given per minute)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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     Next step is a cooler that immediately cuts the temperature of the milk in half.  It has thin plates (which is why it is called a plate cooler or heat exchanger) where the milk runs through. On the other side of each plate runs cold water, straight from our ground well. That cold water is warmed from the milk and sent to the water troughs for the cows to drink. The warm milk is cooled and sent to the bulk tank for storage and further cooling. This plate cooler saves a lot of electricity – since the electric cooler is only bringing the milk down from about 18C instead of 39C.  (The MilkGuard unit shows the temperature of the milk as the bulk tank begins to fill up)

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     The bulk tank is where the milk is stored until it is ready for to be picked up (which happens every other day). Sensors in the tank keep the milk between 2C and 4C. There is also a large paddle that spins a few minutes every hour to keep the milk from separating. 

 

 

 

 

 

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     When the milk truck comes for pick-up, the temperature is recorded down to a tenth of a degree. Nice and cold every time!

 

 

 

 

 

     So now when you pull that milk out of the fridge, you know it has been cold all-along!

Double the Yolk, Double the Fun!

Posted on Wednesday, June 26, 2013 by Steph N

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Have you ever cracked open an egg and found not one, but two yolks? Don’t worry, the chicken that laid it is a-okay, she’s likely just fairly young. 

At 25 weeks of age, my flock is still fairly new. When we get our hens at 19 weeks of age, they are just starting to lay, and although our chickens are currently laying mostly small and medium sized eggs, many of the large and extra- large eggs that are laid are double-yolks. The reason this happens is because as a chicken is starting to lay, she still has irregularities in her reproductive system just like any other animal as they move into full maturity. So, a double-yolk egg simply occurs when two yolks rather than one are released in her cycle and then the membrane and shell form around both, giving you an egg with two yolks.

On my farm, we grade and sell some of our eggs to neighbours, and nearby stores and restaurants (the rest go to a large grading station about an hour away), and our customers LOVE double yolks. Not only does it provide more yolky flavour for breakfast and can make for fluffier pancakes, but it’s also a pretty cool way to impress and amaze breakfast guests. In my family we also love double yolks. My mom’s famous cookie recipe requires one double yolk egg and one large egg (please don’t tell her I told!) which makes the cookies a bit more moist and tasty. But unfortunately for my mom’s cookies, as our chickens get a little older and wiser, the amount of double-yolk eggs will begin to decrease as the hen’s reproductive system becomes more regular, but some still will be laid. As a hen ages, her egg size naturally increases as well, meaning that the doubles that are laid later on in her life are typically bigger. These eggs are usually called Jumbo size, which is any egg that is greater than 70 g (for more information on how eggs are sized, check out the DinnerStartsHere YouTube Channel). 

So next time you are in the grocery store and see Jumbo eggs, or crack open an egg and find two yolks, you now know how it got there. And you perhaps now also have my family’s secret to moist baking – sorry mom!

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