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Dairy Farm Says The Switch To A2 Milk Boosted Profits
A2 milk production processed at their own on-farm creamery may be the ticket to profitability for Joel and Amanda Hendrickson’s small family dairy farm. Just a few months into their new venture, they’ve been overwhelmed by the response from customers. People who haven’t had milk in years because they couldn’t digest it are enjoying milk again and willing to pay $1 to $2 more at local stores for a half gallon of A2 milk from Ten Finns Creamery.
Hendrickson first read about A2 milk about 5 years ago and realized it was something he could easily transition to.
“It’s not any more difficult or expensive to use an A2 bull, and I figured it wasn’t going to hurt anything,” he says.
A2 refers to a type of protein in milk. The other type is A1. Cows have genes to produce one or both types of protein. A1 protein causes digestion problem for some consumers, who can drink milk with just A2 protein. A2 milk has become very popular in New Zealand dairies, and the trend has started in East Coast dairies.
The Hendricksons are the first to produce the milk in Minnesota. They started by breeding their cows with A2 bulls, then DNA-tested all the cows two years ago. Hendrickson sold off cows that had A1 genes and bought A2 cows from farmers selling out. Currently, his all-A2 herd of 140 cows produces about 1,000-gal./day.
Since creameries aren’t set up to process just A2 milk, Hendrickson invested in setting up his own creamery with used equipment in a 42 by 40-ft. building.
“It’s right next to the parlor so milk lines go right into the creamery,” Hendrickson says. While the majority of the milk currently goes to a cooperative, Hendrickson and his wife, with the help of some of their 10 children, package the milk that goes through their facility.
“Right now we sell whole milk. It’s non-homogenized and we run it through the pasteurizer as low as we can to meet requirements (about 164 degrees), and it tastes great,” Hendrickson says, adding that customers comment about the milk tasting different and better than “store-bought” milk.
“We run milk through our creamery a couple days a week to meet orders,” he says. With increasing demand, in January sales were up to about 350 gal. a week selling to stores in the small town of Menahga and surrounding communities.
Hendrickson knows that educating consumers about a new product and marketing are challenging, so he has been pleased with the response from store owners and customers.
“Some buy it because it’s easy to digest; others just to support us. People promote my milk. One convenience store quit selling other milk and gave out samples of our milk. Just the support from lots of people has been amazing,” he says.
The attention to a new product has also attracted the interest of media and a couple of distributors. If sales grow enough, Hendrickson will hire someone to run the creamery, and he will focus on the cows and milking. He is also looking at processing 2 percent milk and making butter with the cream. With a creamery, there are plenty of opportunities.
“With 10 kids, there’s a good chance one of them will take over,” Hendrickson says. “If A2 milk makes us more sustainable and it helps others who couldn’t drink milk, that’s great to see, too.”
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Ten Finns Creamery, 51005 635th Ave., Menahga, Minn. 56464 (ph 218 255-7947, www.tenfinnscreamery.com; tenfinnscreamery@gmail.com).

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2020 - Volume #44, Issue #2