Our Pasteurizer

Greetings from Minnesota on this Ash Wednesday. It’s been in the 30 * F range the past few days, so I’m hoping we’re finally done with mid-day temps below freezing. Unlikely, but a girl can sure hope.

It’s recently occurred to me that I talk a lot about our baby calves and how we feed them milk in bottles. I don’t know that I’ve explained just how that happens, so I’ve got a few pictures for you. First up is our pasteurizer.

It has 60 gallon capacity, and milk gets poured in the top of the big stainless steel vat. Pouring 5 gallon buckets of milk into this baby builds some arm muscle. 🙂 As the cows get milked, some cows have their milk diverted into covered stainless steel buckets instead of the main milk line that goes to our bulk (milk storage) tank. The milk gets poured into the pasteurizer until we’ve got enough to feed calves – usually about 55 gallons. It’s on a cool setting keeping the milk about 40 degrees.

The pasteurizer is automatically set to start heating about 5 a.m. and 4 p.m. (2 hours before morning and evening milk feeding.) The milk gets heated to 145 degrees F for 30 minutes to kill any bacteria that could cause problems for the calves. It is then cooled back down to 96 degrees F for feeding.

 The gray box on the left is the control panel – touch screen even – and it monitors the various heating, cooling and cleaning settings. Our shelf next to the pasteurizer looks rather disorganized here, but it’s got everything we need.

You can see bottles in their wire carriers, and the blue trays hold all of our black bottle tops. The white buckets and gallon jugs both contain natural supplements that we add to the milk of our youngest calves. They help promote healthy bacteria in the calf’s stomach and aid in digestion and nutrient absorption.

I think of these extra supplements kind of like the vitamins or supplements that some people take. Not everyone takes them, and sometimes it’s hard to know if they are actually helping. But, we want to do everything possible to keep our calves healthy and strong. (These are absolutely not medication or antibiotics – we only use medicine if an animal is truly sick and needs it!)

You can read more about me feeding bottles of milk to calves on this post. It’s an older post so there is actually grass in the pictures!

No true running tales today, as I should be cross training. It hasn’t happened yet, but I plan to do some core work, body weight exercises and stretching just as soon as I finish this post.

Any questions on the milk pasteurization process?

Do you do anything specific during the Lenten season? (I used to give up some form of junk food, usually chocolate or pop, during Lent. The last few years I’ve focused on trying to do positive things or make a beneficial change instead of giving something up.)

About Lisa

Hi, I'm Lisa. Dairy farmer's wife and Minnesotan to the core, I write about rural farm life, running down country roads, and the food, faith, and family that bind everything together. Follow along on my journey.
This entry was posted in Baby Calf Care, Cows and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Our Pasteurizer

  1. 30*? break out the bikini 😉 hope the temps stay warm(ish!) for you.

    now this may sound like a total ignorant question but is the purpose of the pasteurizer to get rid of bacteria? i’m pretty sure that i know people who drink / eat unpasteurized things…is it different for animals?

    • Lisa says:

      Yup, the purpose is just to kill bacteria. Certainly animals (and people) can have unpasteurized dairy, but research shows that you still get all the nutrients while killing bacteria so we choose to feed pasteurized milk. Just much less chance of a calf getting sick. I believe in most states it’s illegal to sell unpasterized milk, at least in mass market, so the only way people can really get it is if they know a farmer who will give it to them.

      On a related note, we don’t pasteurize colostrum, which is the first milk the cow gives right after she has a calf. The antibodies it contains may be harmed by too much heat, and the thicker consistency also causes problems in the
      pasteurizer.

      Ok, I’m done now. Sorry for the novel!

      • Heidi Nicole says:

        I grew up on unpasteurized milk and I still have a hard time drinking a full glass of store bought milk. Even the “Vit D” milk is more “watery” than the milk I was used to growing up.

        And it is now illegal to sell unpasteurized milk in WI – although I don’t think we ever sold it in the past – everything got shipped off with the milk truck.

      • Lisa says:

        Fun Fact – I also grew up on unpasteurized milk. I think it probably made me immune to more things than a lot of people, but I’m now fully converted to store-bought skim.

  2. We never had anything like this on our farm growing up, but your posts make me want to go back to the farm, just for a bit. Can I come work on your farm for a week!? I promise I’m a hard worker…it would be really neat to see different aspects of farming.

    Do you ever use milk replacer for the calves? How long before they are weaned off milk?

    • Lisa says:

      You’ll have to let me know when you’re in Minnesota 🙂 We used milk replacer on my farm growing up, and my H’s farm used to use it as well. The pasteurizer saves cost in the long-run, and we also feel like our calves are generally healthier with using cow’s milk. We wean at about 8 weeks most of the year, but in winter it becomes 10+ weeks just because they seem to need the extra energy and calories during the cold months!

  3. Brie says:

    Dude, your blog totally fascinates me. I haven’t even thought about 99% of the stuff you write about! 🙂

  4. Pingback: Updates: Henrietta and Official Team Refuel | Cow Spots and Tales

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