Happy, Healthy Cows Make Award-Winning Milk
The McEachrons Set Standard for Sustainable Farming and Animal Treatment
Meet Don and Seth McEachron, fourth- and fifth-generation farmers and proprietors of Battenkill Valley Creamery. In 2010, they won Cornell’s top prize for the highest-quality, freshest and best tasting milk in New York State.
The McEachron family has been dairy farming in the Battenkill Valley region of New York for more than a century. Seth’s great-great-grandfather began milking cows in 1902, and his grandfather moved the farm to its current location in 1945, starting with just 12 cows. Today, the McEachrons’ herd numbers 350 cows of mixed breed Holsteins, Jersey, and Holstein-Jersey crossbreeds for higher butterfat content, all on 1,000 acres of land.
The hallmarks of sustainable farming abound at Battenkill Valley Creamery. The McEachrons’ cows eat high-quality fresh pasture grasses, including alfalfa and clover, and corn silage the farmers grow themselves, supplemented with minerals, vitamins and molasses. They never get preventative antibiotics or added growth hormones, and they see a nutritionist to ensure that they eat a balanced diet promoting health and high energy. They also get health checks every two weeks to keep them fit and stress free as well as regular pedicures for healthy hooves.
The McEachrons’ cows are milked three times a day to promote udder health. They live in free-stall barns where each animal has her own soft bed. Don and Seth use fans and sprinklers to keep the cows cool and comfortable in the summer, and special window blinds make the barn warm and cozy in cold weather. The barns are cleaned every six hours so the cows can always find a clean, dry place to ruminate and meditate.
In 2008, the McEachrons opened the creamery, with Seth leading the charge, to process and bottle their own milk, and in 2011, began working with Five Acre Farms, connecting them with new markets and new customers. Both father and son have embraced the resulting growth in their business. In 2014, they expanded the creamery to increase capacity and make processing, bottling and delivery more efficient.
In 2015, the McEachrons purchased a new farm from the Skellie Family. The newly acquired land sits about eight miles southwest of the creamery down Skellie Road and along the Battenkill River, a legendary trout stream. The new farm is home to 200 cows on 180 acres with a barn, milking parlor and farmhouse along with enough solar panels to keep the water hot.
Don spreads manure on his fields to add nutrients and improve soil composition, but steers clear of waterways. In cultivating crops, he employs no-till practices to protect the soil from erosion and plants rye as a buffer crop to protect the Battenkill River from agricultural runoff.
The McEachrons have high standards around Five Acre Farms’ founding principles of treating animals properly, preserving farmland, and protecting groundwater. Through our partnership with Don and Seth, we recognize the effort that goes into maintaining these standards, and we support the continued growth of their business.