By Lisa McLean
(Creemore) Fresh-from-the-farm milk in glass bottles is a thing of the past for many Ontario consumers. But for John and Marie Miller and their son Shawn of Creemore, Ontario, it is most definitely the future. The family, and dedicated team, at Jalon Farms and Miller’s Dairy work side-by-side at their new on-farm artisan dairy processing facility that produces milk and cream from their 120 Jersey cows they milk twice daily.
John and Shawn Miller of Creemore
The Jersey difference
Jersey cows — which are smaller brown cows compared to their black and white Holstein counterparts — make up only four per cent of the dairy cow population in Canada. John says Jersey cows produce milk that is distinctly sweeter in taste and provides opportunities for differentiation in the marketplace.
“Jersey cows produce milk with higher butterfat, higher protein and more calcium,” says Shawn. “When people sample our milk during in-store tastings, they can’t believe how good it tastes. I like to think our Jersey milk, in a glass bottle, tastes how milk is supposed to taste.”
Jerseys are easier on the environment too. The cows are small in size and require less feed, making them the dairy breed with the smallest carbon footprint.
The journey to on-farm processing
The Millers broke ground on Miller’s Dairy in August 2011, after John and Marie researched similar setups in the New England states. John says his mother’s family had processed milk, and he was keen to return to those roots.
“We met a dairy farmer, Paul Kokoski, in 2010 who has a similar-sized Jersey herd in a region with similar demographics to Creemore,” Miller says. “Later that year Paul told us about some pasteurizing equipment that was available from a dairy that was shutting down in South Carolina, so Shawn and I went down to check it out.”
The Miller’s Dairy facility is located directly beside the family’s milking barn, known as Jalon Farms. Once milk is tested, it passes through an underground pipe into the next building, where it is pasteurized using a high temperature short time (HTST) pasteurizer and sold in custom-branded glass bottles in a large (1.89 l) and smaller (946 ml) format. They produce cream and milk in a variety of fat contents, ranging from skim milk to 35 per cent cream, but they report each week it’s anyone’s guess whether chocolate milk or 2% will reign supreme. Continue reading