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Friday, July 6, 2012

A Trip to Turner Dairy & Lone Oak Farms

We all know the saying, “Milk. It does a body good.” But where does our milk come from? And how does it get from the cow to your table? A few weeks ago some of our team members went to visit Turner Dairy in Penn Hills to get an inside look at that process. The day started off with a tour of the Turner Dairy facility and ended at Lone Oak Farms – one of Turner Dairy’s suppliers. Let’s start at Turner Dairy.

Eat’n Park and Turner Dairy have been partnering for over 20 years. Almost all of the milk products in our restaurants come from Turner Dairy. Turner Dairy has been in business for over 80 years and they stand on three solid pillars – great products, great service, and treating people right. Sound familiar? Their values are the same as ours. No wonder we have such a great partnership!

But back to our tour…

Turner Dairy took us through the entire milk production process, starting from when it’s trucked in from local farms. Every drop of milk that comes off their trucks is tested for bacteria. Turner Dairy holds itself to the highest standards – which, in some cases, are even higher than industry standards!

After the milk has been tested, it is sent out to the silos pictured below. Each silo holds 50,000 gallons of milk. From there it is pumped into their facility to be pasteurized. In order for milk to be pasteurized, it has to be heated to 175 degrees for 20 seconds.

Raw milk silos at Turner Dairy

After the milk has been pasteurized, it’s ready to be bottled and packaged. There are bottles, pint sized cartons, and everything else in-between. (Turner Dairy also produces Orange Juice and Iced Tea.)

Milk from Turner Dairy being bottled

All of Turner’s delicious products are then delivered by truck to area businesses and suppliers, 6 days a week.

But that’s only half of the story. Where does the milk come from? The next part of our field trip was to Lone Oak Farms, one of the farms that supplies milk to Turner Dairy.

Lone Oak Farms, one of Turner Dairy's milk suppliers

Lone Oak Farms is owned and operated by four generations of the Carr family and has just under 800 acres of land. Their cows produce a whopping 1,500 gallons of milk EVERY DAY!

Most people don’t realize what a structured process milking is. Not only does each cow need to be milked twice a day, but before she can be milked, she must be cleaned. After being wiped down with an iodine solution, thirty-two cows at a time are hooked up to automatic milkers. When they’re finished, they’re cleaned one more time. Each cow has a collar with a tracking chip, which ensures that none miss a milking. Additionally, if a cow shows any sign of illness, the chip is tagged so that the milk from that cow is discarded.

Milking stalls at Lone Oak

We learned a lot from both the Carr family and from Turner Dairy. As always, we’re appreciative that they’re not only such great hosts, but also wonderful partners with values similar to our own.


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