Reed's Dairy Inc.
Most milk travels hundreds of miles before it reaches the store shelf. Luckily for consumers in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and surrounding communities, fresh dairy products are close to home with local, family-run farms such as Reed’s Dairy Inc.
Since 1955, Reed’s Dairy has been producing milk, cheese and more recently, ice cream – free of artificial growth hormones and additives – just the goodness that comes with fresh-from-the-farm taste. “We produce the best, all natural milk you can feel good about giving to your family,” says Alan Reed, second-generation president of Reed’s Dairy. “We’re not a large processor; we’re really small and family owned. Customers can come to our farm and see the cows and really see where their milk and dairy products come from. We have that artisan feel.”
This is just the way it’s been at Reed’s Dairy for the last 60 years. “My father and his two brothers started the operation back in 1955,” says Alan. “I grew up in the business, as well as my cousin and now my son is involved too.”
Healthy, happy animals
Reed’s Dairy has 260 cows in production on its Idaho Falls farm. “We love every one of them,” says Alan. “We give them high-quality feed. We do not inject our cows with any type of artificial hormone to increase their growth or milk production because we believe Mother Nature has the perfect plan to provide us with the milk we need.”
Reed’s Dairy starts milking cows at noon and midnight. “It takes around eight hours to milk all of the cows,” says Alan. “Each cow is brought into the milk barn where their udders are washed and then they are milked. It takes about 15 minutes to milk a cow. After being milked they are then returned back to their corral.”
Alan says the farm has an open-door policy. “Everyone is welcome to come and see our cows and watch them being milked,” he says. “The baby calves are the most popular attraction at the dairy.”
Reed’s Dairy invites friends and family to enjoy an educational afternoon on the farm. “Children can pet the calves and we have a picnic area with lots of shade and grass,” he details. “It makes for a great family-time afternoon.”
Hours from the cow
In Idaho Falls, Reed’s Dairy employs 50 people across its milking, bottling, retail dairy stores, wholesale delivery to retailers, as well as some home delivery routes. As a local producer-handler, Reed’s brings the best of the farm direct to consumers across the region.
“Milk from Reed’s Dairy is not hauled hundreds of miles before it reaches your refrigerator,” compares Alan. “Generally, milk is hauled from the farm miles and miles to the plant where it’s bottled. Then it must be hauled hundreds of miles to the store. It ends up being days before you are able to purchase your milk. Reed’s milk is delivered to our customers within hours from the time it comes from the cow.”
“Our milk is pumped from the milking barn, to the bottling area, then loaded on our trucks and delivered to your door, never being exposed to any light, which can destroy precious vitamins,” adds Alan. “Our customers can be assured they’re giving their families a better glass of milk.”
While milk has been a staple for more than 60 years, including a newly released strawberry flavor, Reed’s Dairy also crafts homemade cheddar and mozzarella cheese. In 1982, the company started making its own ice cream, something Alan says is now wildly popular.
“Since we started making ice cream it has really taken off,” he says. “We make it in small five-gallon batches the old-fashioned way with just fresh cream, milk and sugar. We make larger containers for the store for ice cream cones, as well as half-gallon and pint sizes for retail.”
Alan says ice cream has been such a sweet success that the goal is to expand the production area. “We want to make room for more manufacturing; I think this is where a lot of growth will come in the near future,” he adds.
Alan admits even with the popularity of the farm’s ice cream business, it hasn’t been completely smooth sailing for Reed’s Dairy. “In 2009, the price of milk collapsed and made it difficult for us to compete on store shelves; the price of feed was also high,” he recounts. “We suffer the same challenges as most dairy farms. It’s a battle to maintain a competitive advantage, but we’ve just focused on quality and marketing the close-to-home convenience of our product.”
Despite challenges, Alan sees a new dairy store down the pipeline for Reed’s Dairy. “It will be about a year before the store is complete,” he says. “We’ll sell the same milk, cheese and ice cream, along with Darigold cottage cheese, sour cream and complementary products.”
By marketing the message of farm-fresh goodness and family ownership, Reed’s Dairy Inc. is staying in the game, milking the fact that more consumers today want a face to their food source.