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On the farm milk bottling operation is unique

Happy Cow Creamery, a unique on-the-farm milk bottling operation is offering high quality farm fresh milk to the local community through an on site store.

Tom Trantham, Jr. and his son, Tom Trantham III, built the bottling operation into a harvest store silo, probably the only operation of its kind in the world.

“We are the only bottling plant in the world located in a harvest store silo. And one of the few that offer bottling directly on the farm,” Trantham said.

The cylinder shaped silo which at one time housed up to 300 tons of silage, houses milk processing and bottling equipment and has a retail store constructed partially around it.

The store includes a dairy product case offering Trantham’s own farm fresh milk. He also produces and offers chocolate milk and butter milk.

Trantham has 70 milking cows which produce 58 to 60 lbs. of milk per cow per day.

The cows are milked twice daily, 365 days a year, according to Trantham.

Some of the production is sold to a milk co-op. The rest will be bottled and sold locally at the store.

Trantham said the Happy Cow Creamery milk is high quality because of the process he is using.

“The milk is only pumped one time during the process,” Trantham said. “This makes a very high quality product.”

“Each time you pump the milk it causes heat or friction. It decreases the quality of the milk,” Trantham explains. “We have a very high quality product.”

Homogenized milk is milk that is sent through a fine screen at high pressure which breaks down the fat, making it harder to digest.

“We feel this is detrimental to the product,” Trantham said.

The Happy Cow Creamery  pasteurizes their milk at a low temperature, between 145 and 150 degrees for approximately two hours, which allows the natural enzymes to remain in the milk.

Two vats, one 500 gallon and one 300 gallon, located on the second level inside the silo, are used to pasteurize the milk, which is pumped directly from the milking barn.

“The milk is pumped one time from the barn to the pasteurizing vats, through stainless steel lines and then by gravity flow into the bottler.”

The milk bottling machine is located in the lower part of the silo. The machine, which operated during the 1960s and early 1970s, was purchased from a milk producer in Anderson.

The bottling machine is capable of bottling one gallon of milk every four seconds, which is very slow compared to today’s industry standards, according to Trantham.

However, the production is sufficient for the Happy Cow Creamery.

The Creamery offers milk, chocolate milk and buttermilk in gallon and half gallon containers.

The chocolate milk is made from the very best chocolate, Trantham said. A vanilla bean and granulated sugar is blended during the pasteaurizing process to give the chocolate “a smooth taste,” he said.

The idea of producing, pasteurizing and bottling the milk right on the farm, has been a an eight year dream for Trantham who also sells his product to a milk co-op, which bottles and sells to chain grocery stores.

Clemson extension dairy specialist Terry Sudduth helped Trantham find the right Clemson experts to answer questions he had.

“The fat content in Trantham’s milk contains a higher percentage of a beneficial fatty acid that has cancer fighting benefits,” Sudduth said. “ Feed that is grown on his farm for his cattle is produced organically.”

Trantham has been in the dairy industry for 26 years.

During that time, he has had considerable research done on grazing and use of chemicals in production.

“We are now in our 14th year without chemicals or chemical fertilizer, he said.

A Clemson University study done in 1993-94 researched the grazing program and helped with an initial 25% reduction. Additional refinements have led to a 42% reduction, Trantham said.

The holstein dairy cows graze on alfalfa, millet, rye, rye grass and clover.

The grazing program also adds to the quality of the milk product.

Though he is seeing a dream come true, Trantham said things were not so good during the 1980s.

In 1986 he urged his son to get out of farming. But he said he is happy that Tom III decided to join him in the Happy Cow Creamery business. “It is great to have my son here.”

The business offers a drive up window and walk-in store with milk, chocolate milk, buttermilk and a variety of farm fresh fruits and vegetables, many of which are home grown at the farm.

The business will have a grand opening this Saturday and will offer milk and cheese samples and a tour of the facilities.

Happy Cow Creamery is located in south Greenville County on McKelvie Rd., approximately one mile off Hwy. 25, just south of the Ware Place.

For more information or directions call (864) 243-4801.




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