Pelzer, South Carolina. This short video is the story of farmer Tom Trantham and how his on-farm creamery and bottling plant got built in 2002.
We originally filmed his farm back in 2010, with an emphasis on his unique grazing program, as then part of our two-year partnership with SARE.
Tom Trantham’s story is quite compelling. He had been one of the top dairy producers in his state up until the late 1980’s when he suddenly found his farm to be on the verge of bankruptcy. This was a difficult period in the U.S. for many farmers, especially dairy farmers, as the cost of farm inputs (feed and fertilizer, in particular) skyrocketed, but prices paid to farmers had fallen.
The 12 Aprils that Trantham mentions in the video refers to the dairy grazing methods that he pioneered, later to rename his farm to 12 Aprils Dairy in homage to his cows. For a more detailed look at his 12 Aprils grazing program and the amazing story of how it was developed, watch this related video: Trantham’s Sustainable 12 Aprils Dairy Grazing Program
As we see in the video, he fittingly calls his creamery, Happy Cow Creamery. It all fits together nicely. A dairy where 93 cows are well fed throughout the year on a variety of nutritious forage crops, and in turn, produce higher quantities of milk along with a high nutritional value and flavor.
On the Happy Cow Creamery website, it notes, Tom Trantham was named 2015 South Carolina Farmer of the Year. The site also says that his herd produces 22,000 pounds of milk per cow, annually. That works out to a little more than 2500 gallons of milk per year, per bovine.
Maybe for some, this all seems a little kumbaya, but it isn’t. Trantham offers direct proof that happy cows, ie, those that are fed and treated well more than return the favor in their milk production output.
This is a model that others so inclined can follow.