Just ‘Milkin’ it’ on the AHS Farm

August 28, 2015


by Doug Robinson

The Alvirne High School Farm, located at the Wilbur H. Palmer Vocational Center, one of the select few working farms associated with a high school in the United States.  This educational gem offers students, who wish, the opportunity to not only work on a farm, but to also learn about farm life as a vocation.

Emory Nadeau, who has been the farm manager for many years, commented, “The students are very fortunate to have this farm where they can learn and grow.  Our staff, administration and trustees are very supportive of the farm program.”

Nadeau’s responsibilities involve not only the growing of hay and corn, but also the care and well-being of the farm’s livestock and overall operation of the 50-acre farm.  Chickens, turkeys, and cows need daily care and feeding.

The farm has partnered with the National Dairy Herd Information System with the monthly, semi-annual, and annual inspections and analysis of each cow.  The NDHIA administers Quality Certification Programs, coordinates workshops and seminars, and cooperates with the USDA (United States Dairy Association).  In addition, the NDHIA provides the farm with a “standardized improvement program and uniform operating procedures” states their by-laws.

In addition to these required inspections, Nadeau has daily sanitary duties required by the FDA regarding the safe operation of his milking equipment.

The cows are analyzed monthly for their milk production, butter fat content, and protein.  Every six months, every piece of the milking machine is broken down and professionally inspected.  On a yearly basis, the cows are analyzed for their ability to breed.

Beginning at 5 a.m., Nadeau begins his day with the care and milking of the cows.  Presently, the farm has approximately 30 cows, of which 13 require milking.  The herd has four calves and one cow who will be delivering a calf within the next month.

Twice a day, every day, the 13 cows are milked.  They are milked at 5 a.m. and 5 p.m.  Before the cows are milked, Nadeau rakes the stalls of all the waste products from the cows.  After he rakes the waste into the grate, he then provides the cows with clean saw dust.

Before each cow is milked, Emory cleans each teat with iodine to sterilize the skin and then he squirts milk from the teat to begin the milking process.  Once all four teats have been “primed,” he attaches the actual milking machine, which will remove 17-20 pounds of milk from the cow within an eight-minute period.  Each day, the average cow will produce about 35 pounds of milk.

The milk is mechanically vacuum-pumped from the cow and then deposited into a large tank, which is maintained at a constant temperature of 37 degrees.

As Nadeau attaches the pumps to each cow, he has to maintain a sharp awareness of the cow’s behavior.  “I have been kicked, hit in the face with the tail, and even pushed up against the stall by an unhappy cow.  While they do like to get rid of the weight of the milk, they can be rather touchy at times.”

Every two days the milk, approximately 2,000 pounds of milk which is being stored in the large sealed tank, is sold to Agri-Mark Dairy Farm for $17/100 pounds and is transported to Garelick Farms, Franklin, Mass., to be processed.

At the Garelick Farms facility, milk from the AHS farm is then processed into 1%, 2%, fat free and whole milk.  In addition, the AHS farm milk is used for butter, different cheeses and ice cream.