kit graham dairy farm

Touring the Hildebrandt Dairy Farm and the Best Chocolate Pudding Recipe

Thanks to my partnership with Illinois Farm Families, I got to go on a fieldtrip to see how my food is locally made. I ventured up to South Beloit, Illinois to tour the Hildebrandt Farm, a dairy farm that is home to over 1,000 cattle!

Upon arriving at the farm I was greeted by Amy Hildebrandt, one of the family members on the farm. She explained that now that some of her children have studied agriculture and have returned home to work they have expanded the farm. I couldn’t believe how big it is! It has grown a lot since the farm got its start with 150 cows in the 1970s.

Amy made it clear that she and her husband didn’t want to pressure their children into taking on the family business, but that their children have chosen to continue the family tradition. The thing that I loved about the farm is how happy everyone was – even the cows!

The cows get milked three times a day, and they like it so much that the cows line themselves up to be milked in the milking parlor. They chew their cud while they are being milked – it is kind of like chewing gum and it’s a sign that they are content.

Before this trip I only had a vague idea of how the milk makes it from the cow to the bottle at my grocery store. It turns out the process is easier than I thought! The milk never touches human hands. Once the cows enter the milking parlor, the milk goes straight from the udders through pipes where the milk is cooled and put right into the truck that takes the milk to be bottled.

One thing that surprised me is how much science is used at Hildebrandt Farm. They have computer records going back for 30 years tracking everything from the lineage of the cows to their health records. A veterinarian visits the farm every two weeks to check the health of the cows, and a nutritionist makes regular visits to help craft the perfect diet for the cows.

Science also ensures that antibiotics don’t make it into the milk. Each milk truck is actually tested to make sure that the milk is free of these things before it is bottled.

I loved getting a behind the scenes look at the Hildebrandt Farm. There is such beauty in the way the family upholds tradition, and they have so much compassion for their cattle. I also got to see how the food that I buy at the grocery store is much more local than I thought. The milk from the Hildebrandt Farm is bottled by Dean’s in Huntly, IL – I had no idea that the milk that I have been drinking for years come from just 2 hours outside the city!

We joined the Hildebrandt family for lunch, and of course they had some milk for us to try. I am a big milk drinker, but I hadn’t had chocolate milk since childhood. You guys, it was so good. It was rich and chocolaty without being overly sweet. It reminded me of chocolate pudding.

After the farm tour I couldn’t get chocolate pudding out of my head. It was something that my sister and I would often make when we were kids. We loved licking the spoons with the warm pudding, and Kelly especially loves the thick layer that forms on the top of the pudding once it sets. She gave this the very technical name of “gooey goo”.

Inspired by my trip to the Hildebrandt Farm and my fond memories of making chocolate pudding with Kelly I decided to learn how to make chocolate pudding from scratch – using chocolate milk.

Read the full post and Kit’s Chocolage Pudding Recipe on The Kittchen.


Kit writes about cooking, eating and traveling on her blog The Kittchen. She partnered with Illinois Farm Families to tour local farms and learn more about how her food is grown and raised.