How We Get Our Milk

Disclaimer: JoAnn was provided the opportunity to visit this farm through a campaign with Blended Extended.  All opinions are her own.

How do we get milk?

The obvious answer:  Well JoAnn, you milk a cow.  But how does the milk get from the cow into our stores?  Obviously farmers can’t possibly milk enough cows by hand to produce all the milk we consume.  In fact, one farmer would have enough trouble just keeping up with my kids and the amount of dairy products they eat.  So how does our dairy farm system feed the world?  (And yes, I mean the world.  Arizona Milk is shipped across the Pacific.)  Read on to find out how one local Arizona farm operates.

Kerr Dairy Farm

I’ve toured Shamrock Farms in the past, however I was curious to see a smaller family farm as opposed to a large operation.  Kerr Dairy Farm is part of the Arizona Milk Producers and Arizona Dairy Council and is located in Buckeye, AZ.  It’s run by Wes Kerr, who is a fourth generation dairy farmer.

Wes-KerrHis family started in the dairy farm business back in Michigan with 30 cows.  They then moved the operation to Tempe in the 1970’s and then out to Buckeye in 1990.  Wes lives on the farm in a house with his wife and kids.  Their backyard watches over the many bovine in their care.

Backyard-dairy-farmThe farm is in a rural area and very peaceful.  The smells of cow waft through the air, but I wouldn’t expect any less.  I learned that Arizona has the ideal climate to produce milk because of our dry conditions.  Less moisture means less bacteria populating the cow pens.  This fact alone makes Arizona the home of the highest quality of milk in the nation.  And this isn’t just a judgement call.  It’s the result of a test that assigns a numerical quality value to the milk.

Getting the Milk

The cows on the Kerr farm are milked approximately 3 times a day.  Cows are very curious creatures as well as creatures of habit.  Wes told us that the cows get so accustomed to the routine that if there is any delay in milking due to a mechanical problem, the cows are the first ones to let him know.  The loud Mooing travels over to him faster than any of his employees can find him. 

To get milked, cows mosey on over to the milking parlor and stand on one side of a metal gate.  A farm employee then wipes down all of the teats with an iodine solution to disinfect them and then dries them off.  He then stimulates the teats – much like a baby calf would do in order to nurse.  I saw so many similarities between cows and a nursing mom here.  As any mom who has ever pumped milk knows, in order for milk to flow, you must be relaxed and calm.  Same for cows. The milking parlor is a very calm place.  No yelling.  No stress.  Just the dull thumping and whooshing of the milk pumps.


Wiping down teats and sanitizing #azmilk #blendedconf

A video posted by JoAnn & Megan (@awhimsiclelife) on

 The milk leaves the cows in plastic yellow tubes which travel into a large tank just a few feet away from the milking parlor.Milk-cow-tankWithin 48 hours of leaving the cow, the milk is picked up, packaged and in the grocery store. 

Baby Cows

A cow stays with it’s mother for 12 hours following birth before it is moved to the nursery.  We actually got to see a calf minutes after it was born in the outside pens.fence-cows-girlThe nursery is home to many baby cows who stay in small pens.cow-nurseryJust like newborns, young calves are susceptible to many diseases and illnesses.  Housing baby cows in the nursery allows the Kerr Family to closely monitor each cow and heed off any potential problems.  We found one little calf who was friendly to everyone who passed by.cow-nursingIncluding me


I made a new friend! #azmilk #blendedconf

A photo posted by JoAnn & Megan (@awhimsiclelife) on


Milk Rumors

I’ve heard many concerns about milk from antibiotics to GMO’s.  Some of these were debunked during my visit.


Cows get mastitis.  I was surprised to learn this and yet it makes a lot of sense.  When a woman gets mastitis, she needs to go on antibiotics.  Thus is the same with cows.  The Kerr farm has a little hospital pen that holds the cows being treated.  Once the antibiotics clear through a cow’s system, she is put back into the milking population. 

Every time milk is picked up at the Kerr Dairy Farm, a sample is taken to be tested.  One of these tests checks for the presence of antibiotics.  If there are any antibiotics detected, the entire supply is tossed.  If one cow in 1000 had antibiotics in it’s milk, the test would catch it.


Ok, I’m guilty of avoiding products with GMO’s even though I didn’t know exactly what they were or how they were bad.  Truth is, GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) aren’t really that bad..but the long term effects of them aren’t widely known.  This makes GMOs something to approach with caution, but not completely shun.  A GMO is created by taking a gene that performs a certain feat in one organism and placing that gene into another.  Some GMO successes are Golden Rice and the fact that papayas still exist.

The Kerr Dairy uses GMO corn to feed it’s cattle and currently has alfalfa growing in the field that is spliced with a bit of a gene from the chrysanthemum.  This allows the alfalfa to be resistant to pesticides.  While my organic-leaning brain’s immediate response was to be horrified by the idea of pesticides, in reality it makes a lot of sense.  We live in an age (and country) that has never had to experience a food shortage due to an insect invading a crop.   In large, that’s because of pesticides.

At the end of our visit, we received a bag full of Arizona dairy products, including the amazing find of Root Beer Milk and Orange Milk from Danziesen Dairy.  With these flavors , who couldn’t resist making a milkshake?


Orange milk from @danzeisendairy Really seems like the perfect excuse for a milkshake. #azmilk #blendedconf

A photo posted by JoAnn & Megan (@awhimsiclelife) on

 And I may have drank a little (or a lot) straight from the bottle.  Maybe its because I had a little more appreciation for Arizona milk… or the fact that it was like guzzling a creamsicle.  I’ll go with both.


JoAnn Crohn

CEO/Founder at No Guilt Mom
JoAnn Crohn, M. Ed is a parenting educator and life coach who helps moms feel confident in raising empowered, self-sufficient kid while pursuing their own goals & passions.

She’s an accomplished writer, author, podcast host of the No Guilt Mom podcast, and speaker who appears in national media. Work with her personally in Balance VIP

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  1. Great post JoAnn! So much great information from the dairy farm tour and you’ve written it beautifully. I loved that rootbeer milk a little too much! 🙂 Now I need to find out where to buy it!

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