Cutting-edge technology for an age-old practice - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

By Katie Lange

Cutting-edge technology for an age-old practice

NEAR EYOTA, Minn. (KTTC) -- When you go to the supermarket or convenience store for milk or cheese you may not think of it, but you might be supporting dairy farmers from southeastern Minnesota.

There's tough competition on prices in the dairy aisle and that goes right back to the farm. Now, some of the best milk producers are using high-tech ideas to control costs.

 "I think we have happy cows, and happy cows produce good quality milk," says Phyllis Speltz, a co-owner of Gar-Lin Dairy Farms.

Until 2006, the Allen's and the Speltzs were two farm families who lived in different rural communities, but they realized they shared a unique vision for the future. They both wanted to join a bigger operation, for purposes of the next generation.

"We came from a 300-cow dairy operation in Rollingstone and we merged, and today we're at about a 1,650 dairy operation," says Speltz.

A cutting-edge operation, Gar-Lin Farms was honored as Minnesota's 2010 Milk Producers of the Year. Speltz says it's nearly impossible for livestock producers to survive with only a handful of cows.

"We're finding that it's easier to get bigger and better and a little bit more quality with a larger operation to be competitive in today's world and market."

While you may think of farmers milking their cows by hand, those days have come and gone. There have been stunning advances in technology in recent years, leading to higher quality milk for consumers.

Gar-Lin has a 50-stall carousel parlor that milks about 260 cows an hour. After the cows udders are prepped, co-owner Dana Allen says they begin the milking.

"We attach a milking unit onto the cows and they ride all the way around, till about over here where the units come off."

Within four minutes, each cow will produce nearly four gallons of milk, just one-third of their total production. In total, each cow will produce roughly 12 gallons of milk per day.

So, what does all of this mean to you?

"Healthy cows produce healthy products for the consumers and that's really what we're after," explains Allen.

Allen says the better technology at the farm produces more satisfied consumers. It's not just technology that drives higher milk production, but fresh ideas are also giving the cows more comfort.

"It's a free stall barn and we bed everything with sand on this farm, so it's more comfortable for the cows."

Each of the three stall barns house 500 animals, fed twice a day in an efficient way. Gar-Lin Dairy Farms focuses on more than just producing milk, they also raise calves, the future of their farm.

"We deal with the calves basically because they're under our control. What leads to our future is a calf that starts out really good and then that just paves the way for the future," says Carey Tweten, with Gar-Lin Dairy Farms.

With plans to expand in the years ahead, the Allen's and Speltz's are on their way to continue providing you safe and high quality dairy products in the supermarket.

Every eight hours a tanker truck full of Gar-Lin's milk is hauled to Land-O-Lakes. Surprisingly, all of their milk is turned into cheese products.

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