Making Hay
Week of January 11th, 2004 | The weather was seasonable.

Making butter at Chaseburg

Making butter at Chaseburg

Hello everyone! If you read last week's journal entry, it was about an Organic Valley dairy farm that I stayed at. It was fun helping with the milking and watching it get loaded into the milk truck to be delivered to Chaseburg, Wisconsin. This week, I am going to share with you what it was like when I toured the Organic Valley butter plant in Chaseburg, Wisconsin.

On January 2, 2004, Mom and I drove up to Chaseburg to view the butter plant. I have toured the plant before, but still learned a lot on our visit.

The Chaseburg butter plant processes a maximum of 20,000 pounds of Organic Valley butter per day. In December, they made about 220,000 pounds of butter!

The milk truck that does the Iowa route, including the farm I stayed at, arrives at Chaseburg around 3:00 in the afternoon. This particular route comes every other day to the farm to pick up the milk. As the truck gets set up for unloading, the milk is tested. Immediately after the milk is unloaded, it is pasteurized and separated. The cream is stored for 24-48 hours before it is churned into butter. Other milk trucks come every day from various areas of the Midwest. An average of eight milk trucks come daily.

The giant butter churner takes one hour to do one batch. That batch weighs about 7,000 pounds! The cream is churned into butter. After this operation is finished, the batch of butter weighs about 3500 pounds. It is removed from the churner and is packaged. The butter is formed into sticks and wrapped with paper wrap. Four of these sticks are placed in a paper carton. Fifteen of these cartons are placed in a cardboard box. These boxes are stacked on pallets and shipped off to a warehouse. The truck that hauls this butter to the warehouse comes to the plant only on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings. At the warehouse, the butter is frozen. This can take up to a full week. After frozen, the butter is shipped to stores and restaurants and is consumed by customers like you!

The Chaseburg butter plant employs about 30 people. Every 72 hours, the plant has to clean the silos, or tanks, that store the cream. The churner, trucks, pasteurize and separator machines are cleaned daily.

The plant opened a couple of years ago, and today is producing 4.5 times more butter. In 2003, they made about 3.6 million pounds of butter, and in 2004, they are projecting to make 4.2 million pounds! The milk truck can hold about 46,000 pounds of milk on average. The plant is open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. They do not process butter on weekends, but have to unload milk trucks. Cows have to be milked every day!

james journal pic

Making butter at Chaseburg


Friday, Jan. 2nd

5:30-7:30 AM: Milking cows
Noon: Milkman picks milk up from farm
3:00 PM: Truck is unloaded at plant
4:30 PM: Pasteurized and separated
10:00 PM: Cream is stored

Monday, Jan. 5th

10:00 AM: Cream is churned into butter
11:00 AM: Butter is packaged
1:00 PM: Packaging is finished, butter is stored

Wednesday, Jan. 7th

10:00 AM: Packaged butter leaves the plant
1:30 PM: Butter arrives at the warehouse

Wednesday, Jan 14th

Butter is shipped form the warehouse to the stores

Time: varies

Stores receive butter and sell it to consumers
Consumers like you enjoy the Organic Valley butter!

*Times are approximate. The timeline is leaving out many small but important details, like cleaning the equipment. I was really impressed with watching the whole process from the cow being milked, all the way to butter being made and packaged from the cream of the milk. The remainder of the milk that is not used for butter gets trucked out to be used for other dairy products. The plant is continuing with making improvements to do a good job. The employees are very dedicated and work hard to produce quality butter. It is good!!

Farm Fact: The Organic Valley Chaseburg Butter Plant has about 40-350 pounds of waste butter per day. This butter is rejected because it fell on the floor, leftover from cleaning tanks, etc. Instead of throwing this waste butter in landfills, the Organic Valley Pork Pool has been using the waste in feed for pigs and sows. They like it and it is very healthy for them! It provides nutrients that are needed in their diet.

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