We were pleased to speak with Kristen May and Kendra Hatch of Hatchland Farm in North Haverhill, NH. Hatchland Farm is one of the region’s premier producers of milk and dairy products as well as operating a retail store that sells ice cream, dairy products and other local and regional products. The farm is a family farm and is run by Howard and Kendra Hatch; their children Kristen May and Preston Hatch; as well as Kristen’s husband Dave May. The farm employs a total of 26 people year round with as many as 35 employees in the summer
Q. When did Hatchland Farm begin?
A. Howard Hatch (Kristen’s father and Kendra’s husband) started the original Hatchland Farm in North Haverhill in 1971. The farm grew from there and in 1992, Hatchland Farm started bottling its own milk in glass containers. Plastic containers were added to the bottling operation in 1994. In 1999, the family purchased the current farm location and started processing milk in the new facility in 2004. The retail store opened in the summer of 2011.
Q. How many cows do you have and do they have names?
A. We have 425 milking cows and a total herd of 658. Each cow on the farm produces, on average, about 65 lbs. of milk per day. We have a “closed herd” which means we raise all of our own replacement cows which helps minimize the chances of introducing any diseases. Although we did name the cows in the beginning, we now identify them by number. The cows are also computer chipped which allows us to scan them to get information about their health, breeding dates, calving dates, and other key information. Our gates are also electronically coordinated with the chips so that we can route a cow automatically to a specific location, as needed.
Q. What are your biggest business challenges?
A. The pricing of milk is a big challenge since the government controls the pricing. However, we do have a little more control over our price than the average farmer. Perhaps the biggest challenge though is complying with all the regulations which includes a lot of reporting, tracking and filing for not only milk production but also fuel, labor and many other things.
Q. Your milk certainly is delicious. Is there anything special you do that distinguishes you from other dairies?
A. We use a method of pasteurization called “Vat Pasteurization” which is a more traditional but more expensive pasteurization process. Most other dairies use “quick” pasteurization methods such as HTST (High Temperature Short Time) or UHP (Ultra High Pasteurization.) However, we believe Vat Pasteurization produces a thicker, more tasty and higher quality product.
Q. Is there anything else people might be surprised to learn about Hatchland Farm?
A. You can buy our ice cream year round in containers when the ice cream window is closed at our retail store! Also, some people may not know that Grafton Village Cheese produces cheese for us known as Horse Meddah Cheddah. It is named after the “horse meadow” on our property. Contrary to what some people think, it does not have horseradish in it. It is delicious! Another little known fact is that Hatchland Farm has been featured on TV! We were featured in a History Channel program called “Hands on History” back in the Fall of 2001, hosted by Ron Hazelton, the “House Doctor.”