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 learn just that. 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 our 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 process, starting from when it comes in off their trucks. Every drop of milk that comes off their trucks is tested for bacteria. Turner Dairy holds itself at the highest standards and in some cases even higher than the industry standard. For example, they test all of their milk to make sure there aren’t any harmful antibiotics in the milk. The industry standard is 300,000 Standard Plate Count – Turner Dairy’s is 30,000 Standard Plate Count.  (Standard Plate Count measures the overall bacterial quality of a sample of milk from the farm.)

After the milk has been tested, it is sent out to the silos pictures 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.

Milk silos housing 50,000 gallons each

Milk silos housing 50,000 gallons each

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

Gallons of milk are labeled, filled, and capped.

Gallons of milk are labeled, filled, and capped.

Finally, they showed us their trucks where they deliver their products 6 days a week. 

But the process doesn’t end there – where does the milk come from? The next part of our field trip was to Lone Oak Farms, one of the farmers that supplies milk to Turner Dairy.  

Lone Oak Farms

Lone Oak Farms

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

What most people don’t realize is how much of a process it is to milk these cows.  Not only do they need to be milked twice a day, but before they can be milked they must be cleaned. (The cleaner the cows and milking equipment, the cleaner the milk is.) Thirty –two cows are milked at a time, and they must be cleaned with an iodine solution and wiped before being milked. Then they are hooked up an automatic milker. Once they are finished, they are cleaned again.

Milking Machine

Milking Machine

An interesting fact – they work on an automated system that keeps track of each cow using a chip on the collar of the cow. If a cow is sick and on antibiotics, the milking system will issue an alert. This ensures that they won’t be milked or contaminate the rest of the milk supply.

We learned a lot from both the Carr family and from Turner Dairy. In fact, we won’t ever look at milk the same way!  Thanks for being such great hosts!

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