Milking a new cow
Local dairy herd will grow from 65 to 80 animals

by Nancy Gardiner
Northern News Services

NNSL (Mar 26/97) - Tuaro Dairy is switching milk producers and many of its cows. It also plans a barn expansion this summer.

Heartland, which has about 65 cows, has held a milk-producing contract with Tuaro for about a year. It's part of a 10-year contract.

However, Theresa Wasserman of Heartland says she wants to return to school for veterinary instruction soon. Wasserman says she has already shown the new contractor around and he may be keeping some of the present herd, but most of the Heartland cows will be shipped south.

Ben McDonald, spokesman for Tuaro, says Heartland asked to be released from its contractual obligations because "they were having trouble meeting the demand."

He says Tuaro agreed to release Heartland and has found a new contractor -- Neil Myres of Edmonton -- who will be coming to Yellowknife to produce milk for Tuaro.

Myres is bringing in more cows from Alberta -- to increase the total number to 80, says Joe Kronstal, president of Tuaro Dairy. Altogether, there are 11 local shareholders who own Tuaro.

Currently, Yellowknifers are consuming 40,000 litres of milk a week from the local dairy, says Kronstal.

"Neil Myres will use the same facilities but some new techniques, such as milking the cows three times a day," he says.

The change of contractors has been under discussion since February and takes place officially April 1.

In the interim, the dairy is purchasing milk from a Alberta Dairies.

Hopefully, we'll have our own milk after Easter weekend, says McDonald.

The local dairy serves the Yellowknife market and surrounding area, plus mining camps.

Its biggest customer is the Yellowknife Direct Charge Co-operative, which first realized the benefits when the ferry service was out last November during freeze-up.

The delivery service will continue under the new contractor, says McDonald. Myres would be the sole producer if he can supply what's needed, McDonald says.

"We'd like to expand to other products we don't have (for delivery)," McDonald adds.

Currently, deliveries include milk, juice, eggs from Hay River and Co-op cheese. Eventually, McDonald wants to add sour cream and yogurt to the delivery list. He'd also like to increase the number of deliveries from the current four a week.

Kronstal says the dairy won't be able to meet full milk production demand "right off the bat," but it wants to work toward that goal.

"It's business as usual, it's just that we need more milk," Kronstal says.