Dairy operations of all sizes are producing high-quality, safe and nutritious milk across North Dakota.
One such dairy is Bessy’s Best, a third-generation farm in Sterling. The company bottles plain and chocolate milk, makes fresh and aged cheeses, as well as plain, vanilla, and strawberry yogurt. Despite its small size, Bessy’s has made a name for itself and sells its products statewide.
“We deliver our products to the stores in Bismarck and Mandan, and Dan’s (Supermarket) takes it to Dickinson, though we sell to other stores that pick up their milk,” says Kathy Goetz, who owns and runs Bessy’s Best with her husband, Blaine. “We are a small dairy, only 350 acres. We try to keep 100 cows in the milking herd, sometimes more or less.”
Blaine’s parents first started the dairy in Sterling in 1945 after World War II, and each subsequent generation has made its mark.
“Blaine took over the farm in 1980,” Goetz says. “Our son, Travis, is now in charge of running the dairy farm.”
In 2007, milk prices were low enough to prompt the Goetzes into looking for ways to optimize their profitability. A year later, they began processing their own milk instead of sending it out.
The dairy’s philosophy is to have milk “be natural the way cows make it.” To ensure the milk is safe for consumers, they use low-heat pasteurization to kill any bad bacteria while preserving the good enzymes.
“If we skimmed our milk, we would have to add vitamins,” Goetz says. “Even if we used a natural vitamin, it still would not be as natural as what is found in our milk.”
This wholesome approach makes Bessy’s Best a favorite among consumers with food sensitivities.
“There are people who can’t drink milk but can drink ours,” Goetz says. “Our cheeses and yogurts are the same – milk and culture, that’s it. Our yogurt has a great five strains of probiotics.”
Another top priority for Bessy’s Best is animal care.
“We do not push our cows; they are fed a total mixed ration, but they are also free to roam the pasture,” Goetz says. “By not pushing these cows to get high productions of milk, our cows are healthier and live longer.”
The third generation of Goetzes has excelled in managing the nutrition and health of the cows.
“Travis does a great job with the cows. He is even better then we were,” Goetz says. “We are very proud of him.”
In the end, Bessy’s Best strives to provide the best-quality product they can for their loyal fan base. “Our customers are great,” Goetz says. “They always make us glad for our service.”
Just a few hours away in Bottineau, local favorite Pride Dairy is touted as the state’s last small-town creamery, with customers flocking to its ice cream parlor for a sweet treat. The business dates back to 1930, and finds continued success today, providing its products to grocery stores, restaurants, schools and more, all within 50 miles.
In addition to producing and selling milk and butter, Pride Dairy offers ice cream in a variety of flavors, as well as caramels, cheeses, syrups and toppings.
Whether a dairy operation reaches national or international markets, sells across the state or focuses on a local market, one thing is certain – North Dakota’s dairy operations are milking success.