BOISE — Hilt Dairy in Gooding has won the Idaho dairy industry’s Milk Quality Award for 2017.
The 500-cow dairy has several times been among the 12 finalists for the award, which is presented annually by Dairy West, formerly known as United Dairymen of Idaho.
Dairy owners Chuck and Monica Hilt credit the operation’s success to hard work, good employees and cows that are well cared for.
“Cow comfort and good employees; good milkers,” Chuck Hilt said when asked the secret to producing quality milk. “We work hard as a family and the good Lord has blessed our family dairy.”
The award, which has been presented annually since 1989, is based on a dairy’s routine monthly tests for somatic cell counts, which are an indicator of quality, and bacteria counts, which reflect the cleanliness of cows and the facility.
Producers are nominated by processors and University of Idaho and Idaho State Department of Agriculture officials then compare the operations’ monthly quality tests.
The finalists are chosen among Idaho’s 500 dairy farms to compete for the award.
“The milk plants nominate some of their very best producers and we are picking the best of the best. It’s very, very competitive,” said Rick Norell, who manges the award, along with ISDA, for Dairy West along with the ISDA.
Monica Hilt said the dairy’s cows are taken good care of by the three families that run the operation.
“They all work super hard and they adore the animals,” she said. “They just love their animals and I think that shows in the production.”
Dairy West CEO Karianne Fallow said all Idaho dairies produce quality milk “but these are the standouts. It’s a prestigious award. This award ceremony is really an opportunity to celebrate the quality of all Idaho dairy farmers by showcasing the ones that rise to the top.”
Hilt Dairy was nominated by Magic Valley Quality Milk Producers, a producer cooperative that processes about 3 million pounds of milk per day. CEO Alan Stutzman said he has known the Hilt Dairy owners for 21 years and the operation has always consistently produced high quality milk.
“They’re a great group that works hard and produces a very high-quality product,” he said.