It All Starts With the Cow
| Posted in: Land Sustainability & Stewardship
A recognized leader in sustainable agriculture, Threemile Canyon Farms combines dairy operations with conventional and organic crop farming to create a closed-loop system where nothing is wasted. Our zero-waste, values-driven operations reflect our commitment to protecting the environment, caring for our animals, and supporting our community.
It All Starts with the Cow
The Threemile closed loop system means that the dairy and crop farm sustain and improve each other. The closed loop system starts with the cow producing two products - milk and manure.
Cows Produce Milk and Manure
At Threemile, we milk about 36,000 head of Jersey and Jersey/Holstein cross cows twice a day that produce around 2.5 million pounds of milk per day. Our rotary milkers hold 80 cows at one time, and they spend about eight minutes on the carousel.
Our milk goes to a local processing plant in Boardman, where it is turned into Tillamook cheese. We send approximately 34 trucks of milk in a 24-hour period to the plant. Along with our cows producing milk, they also make manure that is turned into usable products for the farm.
Digester Processes Manure
Our freestall barns are flushed with reused water throughout the day to keep the cow pens clean. The water and manure from the barns travel over to the Threemile methane digester to be processed. At the digester, the liquids and solids are sorted out and each gets processed into various products for use. Our digester creates outputs of green water, compost for the fields, bedding for the cows, and Renewable Natural Gas to be used as an alternative fuel source.
Digester Creates Organic Fertilizer
The liquids that go to the digester go into a lagoon to be stored and used as green water for our crops (organic liquid fertilizer). Green water is applied to growing crops through our irrigation system, per the recommendation of our agronomists.
Cows Eat Threemile Crops
We grow a variety of crops at Threemile that are then fed to our herd. From feed grown on our farm, our herd rations are formulated with corn silage, triticale, alfalfa, and peels and culls from potatoes and onions.
Digester Creates Cow Bedding
The solids from the digester are dried and created into bedding in our freestall barns. The bedding provides a warm comfortable place for the cows to lay throughout the day. Once the bedding reaches the freestall barns, the closed loop system repeats itself.