Dairy Truths

How to pasteurize your milk

Disclaimer: the milk you buy from your store is most likely already pasteurized – especially in States like Michigan which require all milk for sale must be pasteurized.

I thank God every day for the life I have, I am fortunate to have beautiful cows in my back yard. As a mom it makes complete sense to me that I take the very product I produce and feed it to my family. I know without hesitation that the milk provided from my farm is nutritious, wholesome, and essential to growing healthy kids. I am VERY thankful.

After the raw milk is collected from the cows it is directly stored and cooled in a bulk tank and shipped to our processor every day. A few times a week I use a couple gallons for my family – again thankful – but I don’t personally support consuming raw dairy for my family, so I pasteurize it in my kitchen. It really is such a simple process that ensures a safe product.


Raw milk is milk from cows, sheep, or goats that has not been pasteurized to kill potentially harmful bacteria. This raw, unpasteurized milk can carry dangerous bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria, which are responsible for causing numerous foodborne illnesses.

Pasteurization is a process that kills bacteria by heating milk to a specific temperature for a set period of time.

There are advocates for the benefits of consuming raw dairy, the decision is YOURS to make however it’s just not mine for my family, be sure to research the decisions you make with dairy – a few facts I can tell you.

  • Pasteurizing milk DOES NOT cause lactose intolerance and allergic reactions. Both raw milk and pasteurized milk can cause allergic reactions in people sensitive to milk proteins.
  • Pasteurization DOES NOT reduce milk’s nutritional value.
  • Pasteurization DOES kill harmful bacteria.
  • Pasteurization DOES save lives.

Visit the website HERE for more information from the FDA regarding pasteurization.


To demonstrate how I pasteurize the milk for my family I am showing the products I use. This is not a paid advertisement, I just like the products.

I use a SafGuard Pasteurizer, find it here. Pasteurize up to 2 gallons at a time, low temperature, and designed for safe use inside your home. Everything you need to pasteurize will come with the pasteurizer, but I recommend also purchasing a food grade thermometer.

Once the raw milk has been sealed in the silver canister place it on the ledges within the pasteurizer and fill the remainder of the space with water. Put the lid on the pasteurizer and plug in the unit, there is no ON/OFF switch so be sure to only plug the SafGuard in when it’s ready to begin heating.


The water inside will heat and raise the milk temperature to an appropriate level in which harmful bacteria is killed – the milk should be heated to no less than 145°F for a minimum of 30 minutes for proper pasteurization. When milk temperature is taken immediately after pasteurizing the temperature should read 156-159°, you will need to test the temperature of your milk monthly to ensure the thermostat does not need to be adjusted.

Pasteurizing milk does not prevent bacteria from re-occurring, if you do not cool milk responsibly after pasteurizing then bacteria can begin to grow. Bacteria loves heat and the danger zone is between 40-140°F.

I remove the milk canister and put it in a cold water bath, stiring the product to help cool faster. Once the milk has reached below 70°F I bottle it and move it to the coldest part of my refrigerator. The milk must cool to less than 40°F within 2 hours or you’ll need to pasteurize the product again to prevent bacteria growth.


Bottles can be found on many online stores and in supermarkets, I prefer glass bottles and these from Stanpac have held up very well over the last year of constant use. I use 2 quart heavy-glass bottles with lids from here.


I pasteurize milk from my cows because I believe today’s dairy farmers provide the healthiest and mossy nutritious food source.

If you have any questions please leave me a comment ❤ Nicole

Farm Girl

Building this farm, growing my dream – part 1

Applying for assistance through the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been the heartbeat behind our dairy dreams. In 2007 we began the paperwork to start our dairy business and a few times over the years it has continued as we have relocated, made improvements, purchased more cattle and built new structures. Without the FSA our farm wouldn’t be here, during these low and unfortunate milk prices the FSA has allowed us to continue business.

FSA loans are…

Well, the loans from the FSA are…

The Farm Service Agency and their beginning farmers loans can be exhausting. Every office and every loan officer is different, so my experiences will not reflect the experience of others perfectly but I have decided to document this journey as I apply for my loan to grow my dream of processing and bottling my own milk.

FB_IMG_1531860623949We began speaking with our State Inspector in April 2017, beginning with basic how-to’s and requirements of building and equipment. During this time we also contacted creameries in our state and between long conversations and on farm tours were able to gain first-hand knowledge of what the process would entail and the end result we could expect. There have been so many moments where I have felt completely lost, on-farm processing is not incredibly common in Michigan. I’ve gotten very comfortable with asking questions I know nothing about and trying to absorb every detail. I have spoken to equipment dealers, I have a rough draft of my building, I have discussed quality and health guidelines with my inspectors, and I feel confident that I am less than 75% prepared for this journey – this, it’s not that I’m trying not to be prepared, it’s because nobody can tell me how to do this. Like anything in agriculture it’s specific to each farm and their location, and their personality.  Sometimes I have felt like I am stuck at the drawing board, erasing and tweaking different parts to the model that isn’t even tangible yet.

In October of 2017 I contacted my local Farm Service Agency and discuss my goals so that a loan application could be created for me. I began filling out the paperwork; my reason for loan assistance, three year financial history, tax returns for the last three years, authorization to release information, list of creditors, my experience in the industry, etc.

Find a comfortable place to sit, have the previous three year’s tax information handy and bust out the calculator and crystal ball. Providing time, examples, and a lot of realistic strategizing can give you the groundwork to begin your application. BEGIN. You can also get assistance for any part of the application process by contacting your FSA office and requesting more guidance on what information they are asking for, sometimes you can print reports from your PC farm financing program in exchange for rewriting all the information.

Within 10 calendar days from the date the FSA receives your application they will issue you a letter of complete or incomplete status.  An incomplete application cannot be processed; you will need to submit the required information quickly for your loan to move forward. I’ve always received at least two letters of incomplete application, don’t get discouraged.

1511406482092Once your application is complete there may be some down time, hold steady.  You’ve just authorized the government to access your history and credit report, they will contact local businesses and so forth. Do not make large purchases that could damage the chances of your loan being approved.

Here is where I got impatient. If you continue to have an incomplete application, eventually time runs out. In December 2017 I knew I was running out of time – I was frustrated, and I canceled my application.

I was disappointed because I had assumed that my research was sufficient, but to the loan officer looking at a project he wasn’t familiar with – there were so. many. questions.

I was disappointed because I had researched the possible grant opportunities and hit a dead end with my loan office. In hindsight, I was eligible to apply for the grant but my FSA was not educated about the requirements and therefore told me not to use my time on it. When I did connect with the right department and people it was too late to get a good application submitted – I winged together an application for the Value-Added Producers Grant but didn’t have the funds to match 50% of my asking amount. Time was completely against me and all I can take away from the Grant process is the learning opportunity.

THEN I prayed.

In January 2018 I was starting over with my dream.

(….to be continued)

About Us

Farm details

A few facts about our small dairy farm 💗


What is the name of your farm?  Wren Dairy Farm.


Where is your farm located?  North-eastern part of lower Michigan.


When was your farm established? In October of 2008, during a difficult time for many dairies but starting out we didn’t really understand the impact of low milk prices.


What generation is your farm?  First generation.  Neither my husband nor I grew up on any type of farm, although he worked on a dairy farm for 6 years prior to our farm.


Do you sell your milk directly to the public?  No.  We sell our milk to a cooperative called Michigan Milk Producers Association, they take on the responsibility of finding a market for our product.


How many cows do you milk?  We milk on average 60 – 68 cows.  Sometimes we have a group of young cattle come into milk which pushes or numbers up, but our barn comfortably houses 65 so we try to maintain in the low 60’s.


What type of milking parlor do you have?  We have a double-8 swing parlor, we milk 8 cows at a time while we prepare the other side of 8. Milking generally takes 70-80 minutes, twice a day.


Do you use rBST?  No.  Michigan does not allow the use of rBST from its dairy farms. You can read a post about this here.


Are you organic?  No.


What do you feed your cows?  Our cows are fed a TMR (total mix ration) mix twice a day; this includes haylage, sorghum, minerals and corn.


Do your cows go out onto pasture?  Yes, from May to November they have access to pasture as well as their free stall barn.  They can choose where they want to be.  Michigan winters can get very cold and we keep the cows in the barn during that season.


What do you do with bull calves?  We typically do not keep bull calves on the farm, bull calves are male. We sell them to local farmers within the first week of life. While they are on the farm we make sure they receive their mother’s colostrum and feed them milk replacer after that.


Are the horns removed from your calves? We dehorn our calves at 6 weeks old with an electric dehorning burner. In the past we have used polled bulls for breeding, which genetically do not grow hornes, so some of our calves are born without hornes.


Does your farm have inspections?  Our farm is inspected by our Co-Op twice a year and by the State twice a year. All four inspections are unannounced and surprise, they are all thorough and allow us to sell Grade A milk in the state. Every other year we also have a federal inspection, again unannounced.

If you have any questions please leave them in the comments! Xo, Nicole