UPDATE MARCH 2014:

We have received many emails and phone calls from both new and past customers wondering if Steve will go back to selling raw milk. At this point in time, he is not able to open it up to the general public for many reasons. If anything changes, I will immediately post it to the blog. Thank you for understanding!




































-STEVE AND HOPE































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Sunday, September 30, 2012

Horizon Organic Dairy 2012 Quality Assurance Award


Stephen & Hope Galens
2012 National Quality Award winner
Congratulations to Hope and Stephen Galens of Clifton Springs, N.Y., Horizon’s 2012 National Quality Award winners! The Galens have shipped to Horizon since December of 2010. “I was fortunate enough to be in the top tier this year,” he says of the award. “It’s really nice to receive the appreciation and respect this award represents. We wouldn’t do this if we didn’t enjoy it!”

Stephen has milked cows since he got out of high school, and now milks 22 cows on the home farm where he grew up. “I’m milking predominately Holsteins at the moment, crossbred with Jersey, Brown Swiss, and Norwegian reds,” he says. He decided to transition to organic because “We’d always been farming that way anyway. Doing it the way you were supposed to in conventional just burned me out.” Stephen farms with his brother Paul, who does the cropping and manages the young stock and pastures. “We hadn’t been using sprays on the land, and I told him ‘as long as you’re doing the extra work, you might as well reap the benefits,’ so he transitioned,” Stephen says.

Stephen attributes his stellar quality results with making it a high priority. “You have to want to do it,” he says. “It’s been my priority for quite a number of years now. The money end of it is nice, but it’s more about it being the right thing to do, and I feel good about it.” For Stephen, it’s become a daily habit and a process of continuous improvement. “I observe every day, try to find my weaknesses, and then try to improve on those,” he notes.

Separately from his contract with Horizon, Stephen sells raw milk, so gets inspected frequently. When asked what the secret is to producing high quality milk, Stephen says “You can’t put 100% of your faith in a machine: you’ve always got to be watching it. Anything can happen!” So when something does happen, it’s a process of elimination to find out where the problems are coming from. Here are a few tips from Stephen based on his experience:
·         For SCC and bacteria count, Stephen focuses on cow comfort and nutrition. “I don’t like to see a stressed cow, that’s always made me uneasy. We focus on keeping the cows comfortable and well fed. When the cows are in the barn, there’s always balage and ground ear corn there for them, and sometimes a little triticale. I don’t feed any soy, because I read that you have to watch that oilseed crops don’t go rancid: if they do, it can cause free radicals, which can cause inflammation. I feel there’s some merit to that idea based on my experience. Everybody’s farm is different; something different could work for someone else.”
·         For plate and PI counts, Stephen focuses on the equipment. He has a pipeline milking system. “On a nearly daily basis, I keep track of the wash temperature, do pH strips to check the pH of acid rinses, and use chlorine strips to make sure the sanitizing solution is where it’s supposed to be,” he says. To ensure he’s on track, he checks his numbers against a wash survey worksheet from Quality Milking Systems (QMS). “The strips may not be as accurate as a chemical test, but they keep me in a range that I feel comfortable with. One time I had a barrel of soap, and I checked it and found it wasn’t up to par with the amount of chlorine in it,” he notes.
·         Wash temperature: “I had an inspector give me a tip once that the most ideal wash temperature is 135 degrees, which means you have to start out at over 160 degrees, so that at the end of an 8-minute cycle, the temperature is still over 120 degrees. The most important number is that final temperature: if it drops below 120 degrees, you could get yourself in trouble,” he notes.


5 comments:

  1. Congratulations! Well deserved, and we appreciate your dedication!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Congratulations Steve, hope to see you soon. Hope you had a great time. Nice to know you go the extra mile

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  3. Steve was that you up @ Bjs on the 6 or 7th of Jan? I didn't have my glasses on and wasn't for sure so I didn't say hi. If it was Hi, if not oh well :) give Hope my hi also- Regina Shore

    ReplyDelete

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