Kleinpeter Farming Practices
After the original farm on Highland Road shut down in 1982, Kleinpeter Dairy received the bulk of its raw milk from other producers located in the Florida parishes of Louisiana. The volume from these farms was enough to satisfy the needs of the dairy until some of those farms, also, made the decision to cease operations.
However, in 1998, Ben Kleinpeter (3rd generation owner) decided to get back into the milking business. Kleinpeter Farm now operates a state-of-the-art facility in St. Helena parish that produces the bulk of the great tasting Kleinpeter milk that you serve to your family. The Kleinpeter herd consists of three breeds of cattle: Guernsey, Holsteins, and Jerseys, each contributing to the distinctively rich flavor of Kleinpeter milk.
From the moment new calves are born, each animal on the Kleinpeter farm is treated with the utmost care and respect. Our farm operation is cow-centered, which means that everything is done for the sole purpose of keeping our cows healthy, comfortable, and calm.
Below is more detailed information on some of our farming practices:
Gentle Care from the Start
- After calves are born, each one is given a name and an identification number (like a social security number) that follows them from that point forward. Farm employees address the cows by their given name, which makes it easier for our human employees to interact and communicate with our bovine employees. The ID numbers are used to monitor and track each cow’s medical records and family histories.
- We have a dedicated birthing facility where “close” pregnant females are monitored hourly before calving, and veterinarians are immediately available for cows needing assistance. Cows spend time with their young, allowing for the babies to nurse the oh-so-important colostrum from their mother before they’re moved to the calf nursery.
- The nursery is state-of-the-art. Each calf is kept in a rubber coated pen, allowing them enough room to move around, but confined enough so they don’t risk injuring themselves or others. The babies are monitored regularly during their stay in the nursery, and on-call veterinarians are available if assistance is needed. The facility is climate controlled so that the proper temperature is maintained during the summer and winter months.
An Easy Life on the Farm
- All the cows on Kleinpeter Farm live the good life. Each field is large enough so the cows have plenty of grazing room. Each field is also attached to a “dining hall,” a barn-type facility that allows the cows to eat a specialized diet twice daily.
- Different cows occupy different fields depending on their age. And, each age group is fed a different diet. Young cows need a diet that promotes healthy growth and immunity. Pregnant cows need a diet that supports the health of their babies and themselves. And, milking cows need a diet that promotes healthy, high quality milk production.
- Most of the feed given to our cows is produced on-farm. On farm production guarantees high-quality feed and reduces our carbon footprint. We raise hay and corn, which is the staple of our feed mixtures. For 2012, we farmed 300 acres of corn and averaged a yield of 15.73 tons per acre; that’s enough to feed the entire herd for over a year.
- We employ a nutritionist that monitors the quality of the feed going into our cows’ bellies. Other elements of the feed mixture include cotton seed, soybean meal, corn meal, alfalfa hay, and a custom Kleinpeter mineral mix. Mixed together, these grains provide the right balance of nutrition for our cows, more than what grass could provide alone.
- Kleinpeter Farm is designed to be a low noise, free movement facility. To reduce stress on the animals, farm employees are trained to speak gently to the animals, not raise their voices, and slowly and calmly move animals from pen to pen. The use of electric cattle prodders and whips are strictly prohibited on Kleinpeter Farm.
- All cows are given access to pasture grazing. Milking cows are allowed 4-5 hours of grazing per day, weather permitting. The soft soil offers relief for the cows’ feet and grazing lets the cows chew their cud.
Dealing with Louisiana’s Volatile Weather
- Heat and cows don’t go well together. Come to think of it, heat and ANY animal don’t go well together. That’s why Kleinpeter Farm has temperature controlling mechanisms located throughout the farm to keep cows cool during Louisiana’s grueling summer months.
- Shade structures are available for all fields.
- Water troughs are strategically placed near the “dining halls” to reduce the walking distance to fresh water.
- Milking cows are housed in free stall barns that use a fan and misting system. This system operates on a thermostat, and when the ambient temperature rises above 70 degrees, the system automatically turns on. The temperature difference between outside and inside the barn during operation is approximately 20 degrees.
- A 100 kW generator located on-farm provides power to all facilities in the event of power outages.
- Every acre of land on the farm is plumbed for irrigation, which uses waste water collected from cow wash down areas. Solid waste is filtered from the liquid and is also used as fertilizer for crops.
Getting that Great Tasting Kleinpeter Milk
- Great tasting milk starts with strict quality control standards. Automatic wash-down systems are installed in all free stall barns and the milking parlor to clean waste from the areas.
- Farm staff clean cow bedding daily and fresh bedding is installed weekly.
- We use Louisiana rice hulls as bedding material; it’s soft and fluffy and makes for a very comfortable sleeping surface.
- All free stall barns are located within 50 feet of the milking parlor. Cows don’t sweat; and, with every 100 feet of walking distance from the free stall barn to the milking parlor cows will “burn” milk. Reducing the distance saves energy and milk.
- Farm management utilizes a CMS (cow management system) that tracks illnesses, medical treatment, and family histories. A handheld computer lets the farm manager remotely look up cows’ histories to quickly diagnose problems out in the field.
- Each cow wears a necklace that contains a computer chip. When the cow enters the milking parlor, scanners read the chip and collect data regarding the milking session. Depending on milking frequency and flow, the computer determines if a cow’s milk production is off, for whatever reason, and can automatically separate the cow from the rest of herd to be examined by a veterinarian. This early detection of illnesses reduces bacteria in the milk and increases overall quality.
- The raw milk is pumped by machine and is cooled within seconds of leaving the udder from the cow’s body temperature of 101.5 degrees to 36 degrees. Keeping the milk as cold as possible for as long as possible also affects the quality.
- Milk is picked up seven days a week. From the farm, the bulk milk is brought to the Kleinpeter processing plant in Baton Rouge. The amount of time it takes a gallon of milk to travel from the farm to the store shelf is only about 2 days, so our customers are getting the freshest product available.
We are proud that Kleinpeter Farm is Certified Humane by the American Humane Association for the way we treat the cows that make up our herd.