All dairy products like milk and cheese start by the production and care of dairy cows on a dairy farm. Dairy farming is when farmers raise mother animals and use their milk to feed humans. Other dairy products than milk and cheese include butter, yogurt, ice cream and more. Byproducts from dairy farms are even used for nonfood purposes. Byproducts allow for an operation to produce more goods and be useful for as much as they possibly can.
Jessy Yancey from the Illinois Farm Bureau Partners provides many facts about dairy farming in Illinois. Yancey states that Illinois ranks 20th in milk production in the United States, producing roughly 21 billion gallons of milk every year. Some of the facts that Yancey states are practical tips to be used with dairy products. For example, fresh milk will stay fresh longer by adding a pinch of salt to each quart of milk. Other facts are just for fun. Yancey says, “A cow will produce an average of 6.3 gallons of milk each day. That’s more than 2,300 gallons each year!” Also stated, “More than 1,000 new dairy products are introduced each year.”
Now that we have learned some fun facts about dairy farms, we can dive into dairy farms in our area. Dairy farmers must work 365 days per year to provide for their animals. They know that treating the animals well allows the mother animals to feel comfortable milking, allowing them to produce high quality and quantity of wholesome and nutritious milk. Dairy farmers must take good care of their animals as well as take care of the spaces their animals live in.
The first dairy farm to be featured for our area is Ropp Jersey Cheese. They have been in business since 1967, and are open for tours of their operation. Their cheese manufacturing plant has a visitor viewing area. They also allow guests to stop by the cow barn and see their happy animals. They state that they are the best choice of dairy products because, “Our dairy farm makes cheese and other products with the utmost care, minimal waste, and top-notch quality.” Reviews of Ropp Jersey Cheese are positive. Customers praise their friendly staff and selection of local dairy products. Ropp Jersey Cheese sells an assortment of cheeses, along with fresh cheese curds, beef, pork, chicken, hand dipped ice cream, jarred goods, candy, and local raw honey.
Another dairy farm to visit in the area is Little Brown Cow Dairy, located on Armington Road with a Delavan, IL address. Little Brown Dairy Cow is a 4th generation family-owned farm that began in 1961. They didn’t begin their farm with dairy animals, but it has evolved into a family dairy farm. They state, “In 2019 we branched off from 13 years of ‘commercial dairying’ to provide a local, nutritious, and more sustainable product.” Little Brown Dairy Cow is open for visitors on Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and are closed on Sundays. Their address is 22727 Armington Road, Delavan, IL.
Dairy farms in our area and around the country put animal care first. Small and large farms alike use best management practices, which are outlined in the National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Animal Care Program. Animals are provided with a nutritious diet, plenty of water, and a well taken care of space to live. If you are curious how a dairy farm operates be sure to look into visiting a local dairy farm! It could be a fun family activity or a one person trip. However you choose to visit, it can always be good to learn more about how dairies in our area operate!