FARMS Advanced | Tehama | Wednesday, January 29, 2020
Location of Field Day:
Duivenvoorden Farms – 19490 Draper Rd. Cottonwood, CA 96022
Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:
Ali Duivenvoorden – Public Relations Manager Mark Duivenvoorden – Owner/Herd Manager
Food Safety and Production, Labor
Summary of the Day: To kick off our Tehama County FARMS Advanced year, we visited Duivenvoorden Farms which is a raw dairy in Cottonwood, CA that has been in operation for over 50 years! As we arrived, Mark and Ali Duivenvoorden (and a whole herd of dogs) greeted us and were excited to share their knowledge and love for the dairy industry. We jumped right into the daily operation by joining Mark in the milking parlor to learn some background as well as see first hand the heart and passion that is poured into this local business. It was very touching to hear Mark tell the story of the family dairy that begun over 50 years ago when his parents immigrated from Holland and started the dairy, to him and his wife Lori taking it over in 1993 and now his son and daughter-in-law being a part of the daily operations as well. With the dairy industry being in decline in CA they were faced with finding a niche market to sell their milk in, which is why in 2009 they began selling herd shares which allowed local families to purchase the raw milk for consumption to in 2017 going full retail and building a processing facility to bottle their raw milk for retail sale at markets all over the north state!
The Duivenvoordens herd consists currently of 35 milking cows who all have names. We had the opportunity to learn the process of milking the cows and even try our hand at milking one! We then followed the stainless milk lines to the room where the milk is cooled from 102 degrees to below 50 degrees and stored in a large agitator until it is bottled and distributed twice a week. As you can imagine, with the small scale family business this is a very high labor intensive process. which Ali shared that the days they bottle and distribute, they are all hands on deck to ensure the highest quality milk is delivered to each store.
In order to achieve high quality and consistent flavor, the Duivenvoordens really go the extra mile in care and feeding of their herd. We learned how there cows have access to pasture 365 days a year and are completely grain free! They are fed high quality alfalfa hay year round and fodder during the winter months. What is fodder? In their case, it is barley seeds that are wet and allowed to sprout and grow in trays with no soil which turns into a mat of highly digestible forage for the cows. They are fed this during the months that there pasture grass is primarily dormant, to allow for consistent cream percentage and taste of the milk year round.
To wrap up our day, we took a tour of the farm where we fed the cows, visited the pigs that they feed any “dump milk” or milk that for many reasons doesn’t go into the main tank, and climbed the pile of rice hulls that they use for bedding in the free stalls that the cows can rest in. After this fun and hands on tour, Ali treated us to a glass of their delicious, cold, raw milk and we even made our own butter!
Thank you Duivenvoorden Farms! We had a wonderful day of learning and making memories! Looking forward to another visit during your Milk and Cookies day!