Posts Tagged "milk"

Hudson Valley Fresh is All About Milk Quality

So you’ve heard Hudson Valley Fresh produces quality milk, but what does that mean? How do you produce quality milk, and more importantly, how do you maintain that premium quality all the way from the cow to your cereal bowl? We are very proud and excited to share our most recent third party audit results below, and coupled with our unmatched milk quality standards for our farmers, it’s clear that we continue to show Hudson Valley Fresh is all about quality.

Milk quality is what we’ve built our company around, is what our farmers work tirelessly to maintain, and is what our processing team monitors obsessively. It’s all about quality, objective, black and white, “look at the data,” quality.

What Milk Quality Looks like on the Farm

Quality milk starts with a quality diet for our Hudson Valley Fresh cows. They eat a variety of high quality oats, alfalfa, barley, soybeans, and corn silage. About 65% of their diet consists solely of homegrown forage! All this hay helps the cows immune system which helps her produce more omega-3 fatty acids in the milk, which makes a better quality cream. Our farmers also strive to keep our cows comfortable and their udders clean, which further contributes to a proven, higher quality milk.

How do farmers make sure their milk adheres to the Hudson Valley Fresh quality standards? Every month our farmers test each individual cow through the Dairy Herd Information Association (DHIA) for SSC or somatic cell counts which are white blood cells in the milk. Elevated levels of SCC’s in the milk indicate infection in the udder, and they measure the cows overall well being. Hudson Valley Fresh farms are under 200,000 per mL, while the legal limit in the U.S is 750,000 cells per mL.

The common range for our farms is 45,000 to 160,000 cells per mL. The low somatic cell counts make a more flavorful, higher quality milk. Our farmers go above and beyond to make sure their cows are healthy and produce the highest quality milk!

What Milk Quality Looks like at the Bottling Facility

Hudson Valley Fresh Dairy has a third party audit performed annually. This audit consists of an outside company that comes into our facility and evaluates our documentation and protocols, and lets us know how our team can continue to improve in all different areas of dairy processing. This is above and beyond what is required by state and federal guidelines, and in addition to the testing done by our state regulator.

Our processing team regularly does ample in-house testing in addition to sending out finished product samples to a third party lab every single week. This is to ensure we are consistently producing a high quality product. Some of the in-house tests we perform are for butterfat levels and for antibiotics, as state law regulates that ALL milk (organic or not) MUST test negative for antibiotics prior to bottling.

Even though we have one of the oldest milk processing facilities in New York State, our quality team is exceptional at operating at a high caliber level when it comes to proven quality results. Our farmers are very appreciative for their efforts, and extremely proud to report that…

our 2024 audit score was a 98.99 out of 100!

Factors contributing to a high score in a third party audit such as this would be a clean production facility, properly trained employees, and the assurance that on site plant personnel and management have a basic understanding of day to day operation from start to finish. Every member of our team, including the farmers, the truck drivers, and the bottling team – all are deserving of recognition for contributing to this tremendous continued success!

Where You Can Find our Quality Milk & How You Can Support

Check out our Store Locator and type in your Zip Code and find the nearest retail location carrying Hudson Valley Fresh. Don’t see your favorite store on the list? Feel free to tell the store manager you want to see our premium, local dairy on the shelf!

We are proud of our team, our cows, and the work we do — but none of it would be possible without you! Thank you for appreciating all the hard work that goes into producing a premium product, and enjoying our products in your home or business.

the Health Benefits of REAL Dairy!

You probably remember the “Got Milk?” campaigns with famous athletes and might remember the slogan “3-A-Day” based on the USDA’s food pyramid guidelines, but do you know the real, true benefits of consuming real dairy?

It’s more than a pairing with cereal or a few drops in your coffee – fresh, wholesome dairy has a long list of benefits that impact long-term human health. Below, we highlight some of those health benefits, including new research so you can dive into these topics for yourselves!

— reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. Read more!

— reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and lower blood pressure. Read more!

— supportive of bone health, especially in children and adolescents. Read more!

— protection against the development of metabolic syndrome. Read more!

— dairy is the most cost effective way to get 3 of the 4 nutrients most Americans need more of in their diets (Calcium, Vitamin D, and phosphorus). Read more!

Sure, you can get Calcium from other sources, like dark green vegetables, but there is no package like dairy that includes 9 essential nutrients and high quality protein in a single serving. Curious about the actual United States Dietary Guidelines? Click here.

No matter what the other “milks” on the shelf say, there is no substitute for fresh, high quality, wholesome dairy. We took a look at Hudson Valley Fresh whole milk head-to-head with some alternative products, and here’s what we found.

In conclusion, we all want to choose healthy foods for ourselves and our families. In reality, life is all about moderation and good health most certainly comes from a well-balanced diet and an active lifestyle. For specific questions about your own dietary needs we recommend speaking with a doctor or dietitian, but for any farm or milk-related questions you may have, please feel free to reach out to us at

Life on a Hudson Valley Fresh Farm

What’s it like to be a cow on a Hudson Valley Fresh dairy farm, you ask?

Our farmers strive to ensure that the cows in their herd are healthy, free from pain or discomfort, and are as comfortable and stress-free as possible. Every day throws new challenges at our farmers – be it due to the weather, having to get work done in the fields, or something breaking down at the absolute worst time – regardless of these challenges though, a good farmer always puts his or her cows first.

On our farms, cows are milked twice per day, roughly twelve hours apart. Most milkings start between 3 and 4 AM. Our animals are grouped together by age and status in order to manage them better and feed them more accurately for their physiological requirements. In the mature herd this means the milking group is kept in one group, while the dry cows are kept in a separate group.

Bill Kiernan, patriarch of Walt’s Dairy located in Copake, NY pictured with a group of Dry Cows

What’s a dry cow? A dry cow is a mature cow who has had a calf in the past but is not currently producing milk. Cows need to have a calf in order to start and keep producing milk, but between having calves, and after being milked for about 10 months out of the year, they are “dried off” and given a 2 month break from producing milk. This break usually involves a fresh pedicure by the hoof trimmer and lots of rest and relaxation.

How do we keep so comfortable? For starters, each stall has a comfy mattress topped with shavings to absorb moisture. It’s not a Queen-sized Serta with thousand count sheets, but the cows enjoy them just the same. Keeping these stalls not only comfortable, but clean and as dry as possible, is a huge factor in producing a premium quality milk.

Fresh feed, water, and a comfy stall at Stormfield Swiss in Wappingers Falls, NY

FUN FACT – One of our farms actually uses sand for bedding – what’s more enjoyable than lying on the beach?

Lying time is an important measurement that our farmers take note of – cows on our farms lie down for over 10 hours a day, which is just how we like it! While cows only sleep for two to three hours a day, a 1400 pound animal that is lying down is able to put more energy into producing a higher quality milk and more of it!

Another important part of keeping cows comfortable has to do with the environmental temperature. Cows have thick skin, which means they prefer colder temperatures and dislike the summer time heat and humidity. Our farmers help keep the girls cool by providing lots of fans, plenty of water, and sometimes use sprinklers and evaporative cooling as extra measures. When cows are hot, you can tell – they pant, stick their tongues out, and they often don’t want to eat as much, which means their milk production goes down. We therefore find it very important to keep the barns cool and animals out of the direct sun as much as possible.

part of the team at Coon Brothers Dairy LLC located in Amenia, NY

We’ve talked about comfort a lot. How do we keep the cows healthy? A lot of it has to do with the same reinforcement of close monitoring, and preventative holistic care. Our farmers work with these animals every day, from 3 AM often until well past dark. If something is off in their behavior, feed intake, or gait, our farmers recognize it. It’s not just any one individual, though – successfully managing cows is a team effort. Our farms have teams, including family members and often employees that are treated like family members, that are all on the same page when it comes to having high quality standards and putting cow care first. We also work regularly with licensed veterinarians and highly trained dairy nutritionists (dieticians for cows) to ensure that holistically, we are aware of everything we can be of what is going on in the herd and how we can do better. Whenever a diet change or a homeopathic method of remediating something is an option, we are all for it.

Do you still have more questions? Reach out to us to talk to one of our farmers, or better yet, meet one of our farmers in person! Several of our farms will be hosting Open Farm Days this Fall where you can get a tour of one of our farms, meet the cows, and maybe even enjoy a hayride with a scenic Hudson Valley view. You can also always find us at the Dutchess and Columbia County Fairs, where we can talk about our passion over a fresh, Hudson Valley Fresh milkshake from the 4H booth.

As your neighbors, as fellow parents, and as fellow members of your community, we look forward to talking about what we are passionate about with you in the future – producing premium quality milk and farming in the Hudson Valley!

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