I was recently invited by the California Milk Advisory Board to tour Clauss Dairy Farms in Hilmar, CA. I think it is important to approach food with a farm to table curiosity — to ask where it comes from and how it is produced. At Clauss, I saw how the cows lived and how they were treated, and I even got to pet them!
Clauss Dairy Farms raises brown Jersey cows, and the farm raises over 3,500 cows. Clauss is a family-owned business started by Richard Clauss. His daughter, Kimberly, now works alongside him in the business.
The cows are free to roam between an outdoor pasture and a large covered barn. They're fed hay and grain, and given plenty of clean water. Each cow has access to their own stall with clean bedding that they can lie down on. The cows at Clauss get 12 hours of rest per day. They were all very laid back and relaxed, although a bit shy. I got to pet a few, and some even licked my hand! They were quite curious about us, looking at us with big brown eyes fringed with long eyelashes.
When the cows are milked, they're led to a large covered area with fans blowing to keep things cool, and one by one they step onto a "carousel," which is a circular track with divided sections for each cow. One by one, the cows' udders are fitted with the milk pumping machines, and the track rotates counterclockwise. When the cow completes a full 360-degree rotation on the carousel, she calmly steps off and wanders back to the barn and chews more hay. It was very interesting to watch and the cows were rather nonchalant about it all.
Clauss takes food safety seriously. Sick cows are immediately isolated from the herd and not brought back to milking until they are free of any medications and antibiotics, so the milk supply doesn't get contaminated. The milk goes through a rigorous screening process, so it's constantly tested to ensure quality.
Consider visiting your local dairy farm and seeing the farm to table process of how milk is made - it's very interesting and makes a great family outing.
The Way Milk Should Be: A Visit to Snowville Creamery
Where Does Milk Come From? A Tour of Shatto Dairy in Kansas City
Ronnybrook Farms: New York, NY
Where Is My Milk From?: Tracing the Dairy In Your Fridge
Clauss Dairy Farms
21575 Bloss Ave
Hilmar, CA 95324
(Images: Kathryn Hill)
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did cover the travel expenses of our visit.