Any 'commercial' milkers?

Discussion in 'Goats' started by kesoaps, Jun 14, 2005.

  1. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    Washington State
    I'm interested in learning what is needed to start a small dairy for cheesemaking purposes. I currently live in a watershed, so would be unable to use my own land. I'll need to search for a place that perhaps housed a cow dairy in a former life (there are a couple of those around here.)

    What are some of the tools of the trade I should be looking at? Is pasteurization necessary?

    Has anyone applied for grant money to help with start up costs?

    My grandfather was a dairy farmer...my mother remembers nothing! Heck, she didn't even know they had to breed the cows to get the milk... :no:

    TIA!!
     
  2. Julia

    Julia Well-Known Member

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    Oh wow, where to start? Well, although the actual regulations will depend entirely on the inspector's whim wherever you are located (contact them *first*), in general you'll need a milk parlor, milk house and cheese room, beyond the barns and machinery sheds a farm needs. You'll need an aging room or cave if you plan to do aged cheeses. And you'll also need a special, extra large septic system to handle waste water and whey, which are considered major sources of pollution.

    Pasteurized milk is mandatory for any cheeses aged less than 60 days. You can use raw milk for aged cheeses, but bear in mind that aging ties your inventory up for a rather long time, and leaves a long period without income at the beginning. And creating proper aging facilities can be complicated, and have a sharp learning curve. And that affinage (the proper aging of cheese) is tricky and hard to learn.

    Pasteurizers are expensive new--$14,000 for the smallest one I know of---and while used ones turn up rarely, the demand is far greater than the supply. You'll need to research them well before you buy, because most have build in problems you should understand up front.

    Beyond that, you'll need presses or draining tables, molds, cheese vats, knives. And be sure that washing dishes, walls and floors is your very favorite thing to do, 'cause you'll be spending most of your waking hours doing it.

    There are no grants available to start up a cheese plant, unless you can can incorporate some sort of educational research that would qualify for a SARE grant. SARE grants are not easy to get and usually don't come close to covering the expenses involved in starting up a plant, which are *very* high.

    If you'd like more information, I suggest you join the Artisan_Cheesemakers List on Yahoo, and check out the Links & Files on the homepage. Particularly, Mary Falk's 55 Questions (to Answer Before you begin Cheesemaking Commercially)", which will give you questions you haven't even begun to think of yet.

    And asking questions of the list is also good as there are a lot of commercial cheesemakers, but make them short and specific or no one will answer. They just don't have the sort of time needed to bring newbies totally up to speed---they're usually too busy washing up. :haha:
     

  3. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    Thank you, Julia! I'll check out that site.