In the 1970s, when milk cans were phased out, Mennonites in the Aylmer area faced a challenge – how to maintain farming without electricity, yet meet bacterial standards.
Their solution was to buy a bulk milk tank, use a gas-fuelled generator to provide electricity for the cooler and then pool the milk from all their herds.
It meant that they could collectively lose if one of their members dumped milk into the tank that had too much bacteria. But it resolved their religion-based dilemma.
Now Best Baa Dairy at Fergus has won an innovation award from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs by setting up a 240-litre stainless steel tank powered by an electricity generator to cool their sheep’s milk to the standard required – four degrees within two hours of milking.
The prototype successfully cooled milk in just 35 minutes and also heated a barrel of wash water.
Best Baa built a second one, and then three more that used solar panels instead of a gasoline engine.
“Today, Best Baa gets great sheep milk, Amish farmers can adhere to their traditions, and the new off-the-grid technology can be used anywhere that farmers don’t have access to electricity,” says an OMAFRA news release announcing the award for innovation.