We take it for granted, yet it’s one of the most important steps in getting a high quality end product to consumers. Hauling milk to our dairy plant is orchestrated every week by Mike Strobel of Strobel Trucking. A former employee, he struck out on his own a few years back buying trucks and tankers. Now, he not only hauls our milk, he brings in sand bedding and sometimes gravel for the driveways. He also transports materials for nearby farmers.
There’s a lot to know about hauling milk, and attention to detail is critical. The temperature has to be just right (42 degrees F or less) when it arrives at the dairy plant. If not, the load is rejected and we have to pay to dispose it. The plant tests the milk before it is ever unloaded to ensure it’s safe and of high quality. Collectively, the dairy industry conducts more than four million tests a year on milk.
The 50 minute trip north to the dairy plant – in our case, Saputo Cheese near Waupun, must be a safe one, traversing busy county roads and state highways. Since it’s liquid, milk can shift during transport. With 6,200 gallons on board, this mass of fluid must be handled with care en-route. Driving any semi tanker filled with liquid can be quite a challenge!
We deliver a full semi tanker about 10 times a week. That adds up to more than 500 loads a year! It takes about 16 hours to fill a semi tanker with milk from our 800 milking cows. Mike takes a load up to the plant, parks the full tanker in the yard and it is unloaded by plant staff shortly. In the meantime, he drops off paperwork with details about the milk on board. He then hooks the semi-tractor up to the last tanker he transported to the dairy plant – which has been emptied, washed and sanitized by Saputo intake staff. The tanker is dated with a tag that expires in 72 hours, so it must be refilled at the farm and returned promptly to ensure the highest quality milk. In addition, we have a third tanker that is at the farm being filled while Mike is transporting milk. We keep the three tankers in rotation.
At Saputo Cheese, they make cheddar and other cheeses from our milk. Saputo produces, markets and distributes a wide array of high quality products, including cheese, fluid milk, yogurt, dairy ingredients and snack-cakes. Saputo is the 12th largest dairy processor in the world and it’s among the top three cheese producers in the United States.
We are proud of the raw product we produce. Every day, we take our responsibility to provide wholesome milk very seriously. We work closely with our veterinarian and we train our staff throughout the year to be on the lookout for any changes in the cows’ condition, which might signal an oncoming illness.
The first step on its journey to the store shelves starts with our expert milk truck driver. We are proud to have an experienced and knowledgeable person like Mike in charge of our precious cargo. Each tanker is valued at more than $13,000! Across Wisconsin there are many milk truck drivers like Mike who play a key role in delivering safe, wholesome milk to consumers. There’s no better time than June Dairy Month to say, thank you!