August 17, 2016

Hudson Dairy’s Green Renaissance Draws Media Attention, Public Praise

On Aug. 11, Milk Source was proud to open the doors of Hudson Dairy (in Hudson, Mich.) to visiting media, water experts, agricultural leaders and public officials from Michigan and Ohio. The visit provided us an opportunity to discuss the investments in sustainability and animal care, our organization has made since acquiring the property several years ago.

Below is a sampling of the coverage, starting with the home town newspaper, the Hudson Post-Gazette …

Media Tours Hudson Dairy

Visiting media got an idea of just how high-tech a business dairy farming has become on a tour of the Hudson Dairy, located on US-127 south of Hudson.

Currently home to 3,400 cows, the dairy has been completely renovated since its purchase by Milk Source in 2013.

Milk Source LLC, the parent company and also owner of the similar-sized Medina Dairy a few miles east, has invested more than $40 million dollars into each of the facilities between the farm, the cows, and some of the technologies the dairy is bringing into usage to help the dairy be more environmentally friendly, efficient and kinder to its cattle.

When former owner Vreba-Hoff Dairy closed the 180-acre operation on US-127 along with other nearby operations several years ago, they didn’t leave a good reputation behind them, it was hoped that a responsible company could be found to take it over, said former Hudson Mayor Dennis Smoke, who was involved in the search for a new operator. He feels they did just fine, commenting that Milk Source and Hudson Dairy “lived up to everything we looked at. They’re very good stewards of the land.”

“When you’re a large farm,” explained Milk Source Director of Public Affairs Bill Harke, “You have certain environmental standards you need to achieve. We take pride in going beyond the minimums, and our size allows us some efficiencies as we do this.”

One of the efficiencies that Harke is referring to is the dairy’s system for recycling sand and separating manure into solids and liquids. Manure comes into the facility in its natural, mostly liquid form, where the manure is collected by a machine that blasts water through the mix to remove the sand from the manure. The remaining mix is shaken, and the separated sand is put into a pile to be dried and reused as bedding material. The remaining liquid manure goes into a roller separator where the water is squeezed out to create a solid compost.

Another is the Livestock Water Recycling plant that Milk Source has invested millions of dollars into. The system is essentially a municipal wastewater treatment facility.

“The idea is to treat the manure like a municipal wastewater treatment facility where we can return about 60 percent of the water to potable use,” explained Harke, saying that the treated water potentially could even be used again by humans, but will be reused to keep the facility clean and the cows watered. “It’s a technology we have very high expectations for, and we’re in the process of working through the installation.”

The comfort of the cows is still paramount, explains Herd Manager Husbaldo Dominguez. “We have zero tolerance for animal abuse, and we like our cows to be happy.” Each barn even has a special water sprayer system running through the ceiling specifically to help cool the cows on overly warm days since dairy cows thrive in cooler temperatures.

The business is surprisingly national in scope, in that calves birthed by the dairy are sent to be raised at Calf Source in Wisconsin where they receive specialized care, then are sent to a heifer ranch in Kansas until they’re ready to produce milk at about 20 months old, when they return to the dairy.

The Hudson Dairy currently employs 40 people, with a similiar number at the Medina Dairy not far away. It is one of eight facilities owned by Milk Source LLC, based in Kaukauna, Wis.

The company also owns the smaller disused milk plant on US-127 near Cadmus Road. According to Harke, they have plans to reopen the facility at some time in the future, but probably not soon.

Harke also urges people of the area to get a better idea of what goes on at a modern farm by attending “Breakfast on the Farm” at Hartland Farms northeast of Hudson on August 27.

Other coverage included:

The Toledo Blade: “Troubled Dairies Run Smoother”

Midwest Agriculture Almanac: Milk Source’s Investment Puts Hudson Dairy on Sustainable Path”  

Daily Telegram: “Hudson Dairy Showcases Animal Care, Recycling Process”

To view a photo gallery of the day, please click here.