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  Comments (2) Total Wednesday Apr. 23, 2014
Holiday Season Means Milk Shortage for Local Dairy
Kreamery working hard to keep up with demand
A dairy cow pauses while eating before being led from the large barn into a milking area at the Hedrom Dairy. - Lido Vizzutti/Flathead Beacon
Grocery store customers in the Flathead have likely encountered an odd sign while shopping for milk: on it, several cows from Kalispell Kreamery beg forgiveness for not having some of the product in the refrigerator, but explain that they are doing the best they can to keep up with demand.

And if it were up to the folks at Kalispell Kreamery, they would have the shelves fully stocked at all times, but the production rates aren’t up to the humans. The amount of milk available is up to the cows, who can only do so much, Mary Tuck of Kalispell Kreamery said.

“We want to meet that demand, we want all of our customers to be happy,” Tuck said. “When it comes down to it, it just depends on what the cows give us.”

The dairy, which started with about 100 cows three years ago, takes pride in the quality of milk it produces, Tuck said, and especially in maintaining the health of its animals.

With this in mind, Kalispell Kreamery will only operate with a closed herd, Tuck said. This means maintaining the herd it has, which produces milk without any antibiotics or hormones, and not expanding its numbers through outside additions.

“Part of the quality and the health of our cows is based on not buying new cows,” Tuck said.

The dairy’s herd is now up to 180 cows, Tuck said, which is a result of natural expansion: the birth of new calves. But it takes about three years for a calf to mature into a milk-producing adult, Tuck said, so it’s a matter of patience on the dairy’s part.

“It is a matter of us weathering the storm,” Tuck said. “The quality of the milk and health of the cows are why people buy the milk.”

The “storm” Tuck mentioned is the holiday season. Like many businesses, Kalispell Kreamery finds itself stretched during the busiest shopping season of the year. More people are using the dairy’s butter and cream for baking, Tuck said, and coffee shops are using more milk because people are seeking out warm drinks.

It’s a regular pattern that the Hedstrom dairy is learning to deal with, Tuck said, and in the summer, they typically have an excess of product because the cows keep producing milk at the same rate.

To help use some of the extra milk, Kalispell Kreamery recently purchased a machine to package yogurt with a grant from Montana’s Growth Through Agriculture program.

State law requires that yogurt must be machine packaged, Tuck said, but the Greek-style yogurt coming from Kalispell Kreamery would be the all-natural fare its customers are used to. They also intend on adding cottage cheese to the lineup, she said.

Tuck said the dairy has tried to brainstorm ideas to boost production naturally, but in the end, the concern for the well-being of the cows and the quality of the product won out. Using any sort of feed to boost the cows’ milk was out of the question, she said.

“It’s the nature of what we’re doing, to get the natural, pure, great milk that (customers) enjoy we have to stay true to our cows,” Tuck said.

And even if high demand is a good problem for a business to have, Tuck said the dairy is taking it seriously and expressed gratitude to the community for its support and asked for patience for the sake of the cows and to not take issue with the grocery stores for being out of product.

“This problem that we have is thanks to the support of the valley,” Tuck said. “We are so pleased, and we understand that we’re short on milk and we apologize.”

For more information on Kalispell Kreamery, visit www.kalispellkreamery.com.
On 12-18-12, JB commented....
It is indeed a treat to enjoy fresh, wholesome dairy products that come from Kalispell Kreamery - a wonderful example of the quality that can come from local businesses.
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