June is National Dairy Month! As part of our ongoing 90th Anniversary celebration we will be highlighting the partnerships we have local, family owned dairy farmers.
Currently, Turner Dairy is in exclusive partnership with 36 farms in Westmoreland, Indiana, Cambria, and Armstrong counties. Each farm that ships milk to our facility is located within 70 miles of Penn Hills. “Perfect Products” start with the hard work and dedication our farmers put in every day. Quality milk is always our top priority and our farm partners ensure we have the best tasting, highest quality milk that we can get to you. Once milk leaves the farm there is nothing we can do to improve the quality of the milk and we must to do everything in our power to preserve its wholesomeness.
As with any relationship – business or personal – trust is critical to your success. And that is the case with the farms we work with. We have trust that each other is looking the out for the others’ success. Without this group of farmers, we would not be able to produce the high quality products that Western Pennsylvanian’s need. And without Turner Dairy they would not have a market for their milk. Many of these relationships go back generations. They are as personal as they are business.
Our farms exceed all requirements of the state and FDA. We have an approved inspector on our team that is licensed by the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Our licensed farm inspector formally inspects each one of our partners 3 times per year, while the state only requires twice annually, this is a crucial step to achieve our “Higher Standard.”
At Turner’s, testing both our raw milk supply and finished products are integral to ensure that only the highest quality milk comes through our facility. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture requires raw milk to have no more than 100,000 bacteria/mL – if that sounds like a lot, that’s because it is. At Turner Dairy our standard is no more than 10,000, but the reality is much lower. Last month our farm partners average just under 4,000 – 25 times less than the government standards. How do our farm partners achieve these incredible results? By taking care of their animals, keeping them healthy, and clean. They pay attention to the details every day – 365 days/year. Our farm partners are relentlessly dedicated to healthy animals, and a clean environment – it’s their livelihood. As a result of their hard work and dedication they earn a premium price for the milk we purchase from them. Collectively, the farms we partner with earn ~$70,000 more per month than we are required to pay.
If I were a betting man, I would put the quality of our farms milk up against any in the country.
No artificial hormones or antibiotics.
In addition to testing milk for bacteria counts, we test every truck load of milk we receive for antibiotics. If there is even a trace of antibiotics in the milk the whole load is rejected. None of Turner’s milk and dairy products contain antibiotics. All of the farms we work pledge to not use artificial hormones on their cows to unnaturally increase milk production.
While the farms we partner with come in different shapes and sizes, they are all family owned and operated. On average the farms that ship milk to us milk ~100 cows, at least twice per day. Brookside Dairy in Homer City, one of our larger farms, milk approximately 450 cows 3 times per day – 24/7/365. The Lukcik Farm, located in Indiana County, are milking roughly 40 cows.
Our longest partnership started with Lone Oak Farm and the Carr family around 1960. Hopeway Dairy, Karl Pollock, and Ed and Jane Jewart have also been partners with us for over 40 years and have been farming for 3 or 4 generations.
Our newest farm partner, SlickHill Holsteins, just came on board in the last month as result of the Coronavirus Pandemic. Previous to joining our team they were being forced to dump their milk. Because of their reputation for quality and proximity our facility they were a perfect fit – we couldn’t be more excited to have them on board!
In their “spare time” many of our farm partners produce additional items to sell. They produce a variety of other food products – such as cheese, meat and produce – milling wood to make pallets, and various artwork. Pleasant Lane Farms near Latrobe recently started their own farmstead cheesemaking operation.
Thank a dairy farmer this month. Without them we would not have any of the products we all love!
Check out our Farm to Bottle video here