Thistle Dew Creamery kickstarting in Frankenmuth

A Michigan dairy farm couple sees small-batch butter as a profitable path forward for their sixth-generation farm.

Beth Rupprecht and her husband Drew restarted the family’s dairy farm seven years ago turning their registered show cattle hobby into a business.  Drew’s family had previously sold the herd in 2004 to take a break from dairying.

“Our herd was getting to the size where we needed to make a decision if we were going to downsize or come back and milk,” she explains.  “In 2016, we came back, we ran the station barn as a flat parlor, and then in 2019, we put in a Lely robot.”

Rupprecht tells Brownfield selling directly to consumers is helping the dairy stay small and remain in the family for the seventh generation.

“We don’t want to grow any bigger than our 60-cow dairy, so we just recently started Thistle Dew Creamery,” she shares.  “We are flavoring butter at this time and it’s really a way for us to get some cash flow and start to get our name out in the community.”

Milk is purchased back from their cooperative, Michigan Milk Producers Association, and processed in an incubator kitchen at the Frankenmuth Farmers’ Market. 

Rupprecht says the business is seeking retail opportunities and wants to build a creamery at the farm.

“There are a lot of small dairy farms in this area, and we’d love to be able to keep them at their size that they’re at and remain profitable,” she says.  “We’re going to be designing the plant to be able to take on other farms’ milk as well.”

Thistle Dew Creamery launched in June after receiving a Dairy Business Innovation Alliance reimbursement grant for equipment to start the creamery earlier this year.

Brownfield interviewed Rupprecht as part of the recent Conservation in Action Tour.

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