Third-generation dairy farm opens all-natural processing plant

A North Dakota dairy farm has added diversity to dairy operation and new tastes to supermarket shelves with all-natural milk from its new Bessy's Best processing plant.

A North Dakota dairy farm has added diversity to dairy operation and new tastes to supermarket shelves with all-natural milk from its new Bessy's Best processing plant.

Goetz Dairy is a third-generation dairy farm near Sterling, N.D., run by Kathy and Blaine Goetz and their son, Travis.

Kathy and Blaine have been in the dairy business for more than 30 years. They have four children. Travis, their oldest, is the only one currently farming with them, though their other two sons help out when needed.

Blaine Goetz received the Goetz Dairy farm from his parents, Dominic and Dorthy Goetz, about 30 years ago. Blaine helped his parents with the milking before he took over the farm..

Dominic and Dorthy built the Goetz Dairy farm and began their dairy business when there was nothing more than prairie on the farmstead. They milked for more than 50 years.


Goetz Dairy is a fairly small dairy operation, with about 120 Holstein milking cows and a few dry cows. The original Goetz Dairy buildings, except for the farm house, still stand on the Goetz Dairy Farm today.

Kathy and Blaine deal mostly with the processing and bottling but help out Travis with the farm operation, cows and the milking.

In April, the Goetzes opened a processing plant called Bessy's Best. It is located on the Goetz farm near Sterling.

Bessy's Best

Bessy's Best processes and bottles Grade A whole milk. The "Bessy's Best" name was inspired by the Goetz family's favorite cow.

"We were just driving and talking about names for the business and I said that it should somehow link the farm and the product," Kathy Goetz says. "We talked about one of our favorite cows and named the business after her. Our cows have numbered tags, but this one we called by Bessy. Bessy was a friendly cow that would stick her head in and say hi during milking."

Bessy's Best milk is bottled and processed on the Goetz Dairy farm and retains all the natural vitamins. Nothing is removed or added to the final product, and none of the Goetz Dairy cows are treated with antibiotics or given synthetic hormones.

"We don't feed with organic feed as it is hard to find and expensive. So our cows are not organic, but we are all natural in that nothing is added to or taken from the milk," Kathy Goetz says. "We do not remove the cream, which contains the all natural vitamins. Most other dairies will skim the cream and then have to add the vitamins later. These vitamins have to be pasteurized, and unlike most people think, the vitamins from the cream can not be cooked out of the milk through pasteurization."


The milk is trucked from the milking barn to the nearby processing plant, where the milk is processed, bottled and then trucked to major supermarkets in Bismarck, N.D., and Mandan, N.D.

At the processing plant, milk is pumped from trucks into the pasteurizer. It is pasteurized at 150 degrees, homogenized and cooled down to about 34 degrees.

Holding tanks keep the milk until the process is completed and then pump it to the bottler. A conveyor belt transports the bottles to fill stations and a labeler labels them. Bottles are stored in coolers and trucked to supermarkets after processing.

New product

After the whole milk has been processed and bottled, extra milk is made into Bessy's Best chocolate whole milk. The milk is mixed with a cocoa powder and sugar mixture and pasteurized to create the Bessy's Best chocolate line.

"There is about 100 gallons of milk left over after we make our whole milk. Out of our whole milk, we take about 100 gallons and make our chocolate milk," Kathy Goetz says. "We usually don't do more than 100 gallons of chocolate, and we only make the chocolate line in half-gallons."

"I love to demo and see the reaction of the people when they taste our milk," she says. "It has this fresh natural flavor. We just started a chocolate line, and it also seems to be going over real well."

Bessy's Best whole and chocolate milk can be found in Dan's Supermarkets in Bismarck and Mandan. Bessy's Best chocolate milk half-gallons cost about $2.75 and a gallon of their whole milk costs about $4.65 -- though their prices change monthly. Goetz Dairy has to price its milk according to the Milk Marketing Board.


"We try to stay near Bismarck because of gas prices and as we are just a small operation," Kathy Goetz says. "We do not intend to distribute to other small towns that are miles away."

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