The Braum Family Farm is located on land between the communities of Tuttle and Minco, Oklahoma. The farm covers 10,000 acres – approximately 15 square miles – and lies along both sides of the South Canadian River. The land was purchased over a thirty-year period, in various pieces. A large part of it was wasteland and most of it was not fully developed.
Work on the land by the Braum’s Construction Crews included jetties on the riverbank to stabilize the sandy bank during seasonal flooding. Our construction crews also built most of the buildings on the farm including the milk barn, free-stall barns, processing plant, bakery and warehouse distribution facility, water treatment plant, waste treatment facilities, and cow trolley. They also helped build a 600 ft. private bridge across the South Canadian River. This bridge not only provides access to the various fields, but it also makes the public roads around the farm a safer place to travel by taking the large farm equipment off the roads and highways. In addition, Braum’s crews built a private mile long lighted entrance road to the farm and plant.
All of these improvements were financed privately without government funds. Braum’s believes in a free market. We don’t believe that the government should spend taxpayer money to promote private businesses and Braum’s never accepts government farm subsidies.
At Braum’s, we do things from the ground up. We own over 48,000 acres of some of the finest farm and ranchland in America. Each farm plays its own unique role in the Braum operation from growing crops, to raising calves, to milking cows.
Our two largest farms, the Tuttle Farm and our 24, 000 acre, 38 square mile farm located on the border of Follett, Texas and Shattuck, Oklahoma, play similar roles in the Braum operation. Corn and alfalfa are grown under center pivot irrigation and provide the forage part of the ration for our dairy herd. The alfalfa hay and a portion of the corn is harvested as ensilage and the remaining corn is harvested as shelled corn to feed the dairy herd throughout the year. We have the combined capacity to produce, feed, and store a total of 240,000 tons of alfalfa and corn silage each year.
The alfalfa is cut six times during the growing season and the corn is cut once. After the corn is cut a cover crop is planted to protect the soil. This is plowed under in the spring.
Grain is mixed together with the alfalfa and corn silage to provide a uniform complete ration for the dairy herd 365 days a year. The grain part of the ration is made from locally purchased milo, barley, soybeans, and corn. We purchase corn from Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska to supplement our needs.
Producing and mixing the dairy herds ration is done at our Feed Mill on the Tuttle Farm. Here we also roast the soybeans which makes them more digestible for the dairy herd. Having our own Feed Mill allows us to monitor the specific and ever-changing needs of the herd. It also lets us control what goes into our feed… and what doesn’t. We believe in natural. It’s a big part of what we do. That’s why we don’t inject our cows with hormones (like rBGH) to increase milk production and we don’t put antibiotics in their feed. Braum’s milk is 100 percent natural and rBGH Free.
Each day a combined total of about 40 calves are born, then raised on our Tuttle and Follett Farms and will eventually join their respective milking herds. The bull calves, regardless of where they are born, are raised in Follett.
Calves are fed milk twice a day for about 60 days. They’re housed in thousands of individual hutches. After weaning from milk the heifer calves are raised to maturity with supplemental feed on pasture year-round. When a cow gives birth and begins producing milk, she joins the milking herd. Three hundred days later, when she drys off, the cows are moved to bermuda pasture to rest until she calves and the process begins again.
Both our Tuttle and Follett Farms have milking operations. Although smaller than the milking operation in Tuttle, our private dairy herd in Follett is raised entirely on pasture and provides about 150,000 pounds of fresh raw milk each day. This milk is transported daily from Follett to our Processing Plant in Tuttle.
The Tuttle Farm is home to one of the largest milking operations of its kind in the world. The milking of the cows is continual, stopping only periodically to clean the freestall barns and equipment. The cows are housed in 17 freestall barns covering over 35 acres. The cows are brought from the freestalls to the milk barn several times a day in groups of 400 on “cow trolleys”. Bill Braum designed the “cow trolley” to transport the dairy herd to and from the milk barn. The “cow trolley” eliminates the cows need to walk and improves their overall comfort.
When the cows arrive at the milk barn they enter one of eight doors. Each door opens to a row that holds 50 cows where they form a herringbone pattern to facilitate attaching them to automatic milkers. We milk 800 cows every 32 minutes. The barn is heated in the winter and air conditioned in the summer for the comfort of the milkers.
As the cows are milked the milk flows through stainless steel lines to a filter and through an instant cooler. Then it goes into one of two 30,000 gallon storage silos. From the storage silos it is pumped into a 12,000 gallon stainless steel trailer and hauled the short distance to the processing plant. This trip is made several times each day and night.
After being milked the cows will rest and feed on pasture (if weather permits) or they will be transported by trolley back to the freestalls barns. The freestalls are 4 x 8 foot cubicles where the cows can eat and lie down whenever they wish. Between milkings, plenty of food, water and fresh bedding is provided. We buy thousands of tons of wheat straw from local farmers that we grind and use as bedding.
Dry compost is also added to the freestalls throughout the day and floors are flushed and cleaned between each milking. The freestall cubicles are elevated to be above the flush water used to clean the barns. The barns are built on a 3% grade to facilitate the periodic flushing and cleaning of the floor areas.
The flush water carries the manure to a concrete collection ditch which connects to two concrete slurry pits with agitators. From there the slurry is pumped over stainless steel screens which separate the fibrous material from the liquid. The liquid then flows to two settling basins. The first basin is emptied each day of the settled solids while the settled solids in the second larger basin are constantly being removed by mechanical scrapers and pumps. The settled solids are pumped to several stainless steel extruders which separate more of the water from the sludge. The liquid after being screened, treated, and settled of most solids is pumped to the growing crops. This natural fertilizer greatly reduces the need for chemical fertilizers. The separated solids are made into compost and used on the cropland.
It’s a great advantage for freshness to have the milking operation and the processing plant within minutes of each other right on the farm.
Braum’s 260,000 square foot processing plant is one of the few milk processing plants in the United States to operate seven days a week. The Braum’s Plant features the most modern equipment available. The raw milk is brought from the milk barn to the plant where it is kept cool in huge stainless steel silo tanks. The cold raw milk is pasteurized, standardized, homogenized, vacuum processed, then cooled back down and packaged. While the milk is being readied for packaging, we’re busy getting the packages ready. Here, we see the plastic milk bottles being formed. Braum’s makes both the gallon and half-gallon containers that we use. It keeps the cost of the product down and offers us the best possible quality control. Milk is packaged at 6,000 gallons and 3,600 half-gallons an hour. The packaged milk is conveyed directly into the cold rooms where it is automatically cased, stacked, loaded onto dollies and put on automated lines ready for load out later that same day.
When processing our reduced fat milks we have a huge mechanical vapor re-compressor evaporator (known as an MVR) capable of removing 40,000 pounds of natural water directly from the milk. This is almost unheard of in a fluid milk plant where normally fat free milk is fortified with powder, or condensed milk, or often not fortified at all. Since we remove a large amount of natural water from the milk, the resulting product is greatly improved with up to fifty percent more calcium and protein, better body and a much better taste. We are also allowed to label our fat free milk an “excellent source of calcium and protein”. It’s a much more expensive product to produce since a third of the volume is reduced with the water removal. Customers who try our fat free and reduced fat milk can tell the difference and greatly prefer it. The extra calcium also helps build strong bones in our children and helps prevent osteoporosis in adults.
We also use our milk to produce butter, cottage cheese, yogurt, sour cream, dips, and of course, ice cream.
Braum’s is known for it’s delicious ice cream. The first step in making ice cream is to make an ice cream mix consisting of milk, cream and sweetener. Most plants reconstitute powder or condensed milk with water to make ice cream mix but Braum’s uses only fresh milk and concentrates it in our MVR evaporator.
After the mix is pasteurized, homogenized and processed through our MVR evaporator it is cooled and held in large stainless steel tanks ready for freezing. The ice cream mix is continuously pumped through ice cream freezers that extrude the ice cream in a semi-frozen state. The ice cream then passes through a fruit feeder where various fruits, candies and nuts are added. It is then packaged and put in a hardening and storage room kept at minus 20 degrees.
Braum’s also makes the three-pint cartons for the ice cream. This machine forms cartons at a rate of 90 cartons per minute.
The 3½ gallon containers called “squares” that hold the bulk ice cream for dipping in the stores are also formed here and filled on this 2000 gallon per hour freezer. Two other freezers fill the three-pint cartons at the rate of 3000 cartons per hour.
Our Glacier machine makes the frozen snacks like ice cream sandwiches, ice cream bars, nutty cones and even the ice cream pies. This machine is unlike the ones used by most of our competitors. Braum’s Glacier machine extrudes real ice cream and then “knife cuts” it with a very hot wire as opposed to just putting liquid in a mold and freezing it.
That’s why Braum’s frozen snacks are creamier and taste better.
We also have a portable machine that we use several days each month to fill our 3 oz. ice cream cups in vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. This machine an fill 110 – 3 oz. ice cream cups per minute.
In 2010, Braum’s moved its bakery operations from Oklahoma City to the Family Farm in Tuttle. Construction crews built a 240,000 square foot Bakery and Warehouse Distribution Facility adjacent to the Processing Plant. The bakery operates 24 hours a day baking breads, cookies, brownies, hamburger buns, cinnamon rolls, muffins and much more. What we bake today will be loaded onto our trucks tonight and delivered to our stores the next day. We even bake our sugar, waffle, and cake cones that you’ll find in our stores. These unique ovens can bake more than 15, 000 cones an hour. In addition, the bakery roasts hundreds of thousands of pounds of almonds and pecans that are used in our ice cream, used as sundae topping and sold seasonally in our Fresh Market.
Our Warehouse Distribution Facility also operates 24/7. Each Braum’s store receives a delivery of products every other day. Every night, our crews start loading the trucks for each morning’s deliveries. The loading continues all night at the rate of about one semi-trailer loaded every 12 minutes. Each truck has three compartments, minus 20 degrees for ice cream, +35 degrees for milk and ambient temperature for supplies and bakery items.
All products made by Braum’s are sold exclusively through our Braum’s stores. Our company is too small to enter the national mass markets. Our products are so fresh and perishable that we limit our distribution to about a 300-mile radius of our Tuttle farm.
Braum’s stores are all company owned and operated by the Braum Family. Each store has three departments. The Fountain, where we dip ice cream cones, sundaes, banana splits, and real ice cream malts and shakes; the Grill where we make breakfast, chicken and steak sandwiches, salads, and our great third pound hamburgers; and the Fresh Market, where we have dairy products, bakery products, fresh choice meats, produce and so much more.
Farming, processing and selling direct to the consumer is a lot of work and limits the marketing area that can be supplied. The Braum family and associates enjoy the direct “farm to market” relationship that we have with our customers. It’s not a large market but an exclusive and loyal group of customers that we truly appreciate. We hope to see you soon at the Braum’s Ice Cream and Dairy Store nearest you.