Dairy



Want the full scoop?

Watch the entire interview with local dairy farmer and historian, Loren Kraetz, to learn even more about his roots and the history of dairy farming in Snohomish County.


The dairy industry in the Stillaguamish Valley was driven by the logging camps. Prior to the camps being established most families had dairy cows to feed their families or to make butter to sell to markets.

As the logging industry grew the need to supply the camps with dairy products grew as well. Soon the valley’s production far exceeded the logging camp demands and dairy products were sent to Seattle and other large scale processors. Some of the biggest names in milk products bought milk from the valley including Carnation, Borden and Darigold. Darigold was popular with valley farmers because they offered the highest rate per gallon for milk as well as paying annual dividends to its cooperative members. In 2013 Darigold was the only one of those major brands still operating in the area and buying milk from local farmers. The company is considered the preeminent dairy product manufacturer in Washington State. Throughout Western Washington dairy valleys became known as “Darigold Country.”

In 1933 there were 3,000 dairy farmers selling milk in Snohomish County.  In 2013 only 25 dairy farms remained in operation, but because of the size of their herds the same volume of milk is still sold from local farmers.

  • Pictured here is a promotional card from Valley Gem Farm, one of the first dairy farms in the County to bottle milk.  Their slogan was “drink Golden Guernsey milk from the Valley Gem Farm, it will put roses on your cheeks.”

    Pictured here is a promotional card from Valley Gem Farm, one of the first dairy farms in the County to bottle milk. Their slogan was “drink Golden Guernsey milk from the Valley Gem Farm, it will put roses on your cheeks.”

  • This Guernsey cow was from the Valley Gem Farm.  Guernsey cows were known for their sweet rich, golden colored milk. (Photo courtesy of the Stillaguamish Valley Museum and Nancy Lee)

    This Guernsey cow was from the Valley Gem Farm. Guernsey cows were known for their sweet rich, golden colored milk. (Photo courtesy of the Stillaguamish Valley Museum and Nancy Lee)

  • Snohomish County Dairymen’s Association circa 1920. (Photo courtesy of the Stillaguamish Valley Museum)

    Snohomish County Dairymen’s Association circa 1920. (Photo courtesy of the Stillaguamish Valley Museum)

  • The Arlington Condensery played a significant role in dairy product processing.  Having a canning operation in the valley helped farmers sell any extra fresh milk that was not sold in markets.  Canned milk was also an important food supply to U.S. troops overseas during WWII. (Photo courtesy of the City of Arlington)

    The Arlington Condensery played a significant role in dairy product processing. Having a canning operation in the valley helped farmers sell any extra fresh milk that was not sold in markets. Canned milk was also an important food supply to U.S. troops overseas during WWII. (Photo courtesy of the City of Arlington)

  • Most of the milk from the Stillaguamish Valley was distributed through Dairigold’s Seattle operations pictured here in 1955. (Photo courtesy of Darigold)

    Most of the milk from the Stillaguamish Valley was distributed through Dairigold’s Seattle operations pictured here in 1955. (Photo courtesy of Darigold)

  • Guernsey, Holstein and Jersey cows were the breeds most frequently used for dairy farming amongst valley farmers.

    Guernsey, Holstein and Jersey cows were the breeds most frequently used for dairy farming amongst valley farmers.

Given that most people prefer white colored milk, the thick Golden Guernsey milk was often mixed with Holstein milk to lighten its color and also to increase the yield.  Holstein milk is lighter and thins out the thicker milk thus helping to increase the volume of milk produced on a farm.

Dairgold

Although established as a milk cooperative in 1918 the name Dairgold wasn’t chosen until 1925 when the United Dairymen's Association members gathered together for a family picnic. At this picnic, they held a contest to determine the brand name for the milk, cheese and butter they produced. The winner was "Darigold." Butter became one of the best loved products among their consumers.

  • 1929 - Dairygold incorporated their local heritage in the packaging. The design’s landscape scene of evergreen trees and mountains depicted the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

    1929 - Dairygold incorporated their local heritage in the packaging. The design’s landscape scene of evergreen trees and mountains depicted the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

  • The Early 30's - Dairygold introduced a Northwest design variation by placing our landscape inside of the new "quality guaranteed diamond."

    The Early 30's - Dairygold introduced a Northwest design variation by placing our landscape inside of the new "quality guaranteed diamond."

  • The Mid 30's - A touch of color improves on a classic design.

    The Mid 30's - A touch of color improves on a classic design.

  • The 30's to 60's - The blue diamond seal remained foremost on Darigold butter packages as the symbol for the company's top quality products.

    The 30's to 60's - The blue diamond seal remained foremost on Darigold butter packages as the symbol for the company's top quality products.

  • The 70's - The logo changed from a "diamond" to a "daisy" shape. This new box presented the Darigold name with the traditional lettering on a daisy shaped background and clearly identified the Darigold brand in the public's eye. The "daisy" logo is still on Darigold packaging today.

    The 70's - The logo changed from a "diamond" to a "daisy" shape. This new box presented the Darigold name with the traditional lettering on a daisy shaped background and clearly identified the Darigold brand in the public's eye. The "daisy" logo is still on Darigold packaging today.

Dairygold packaging images courtesy of Dairigold.

 

A long tradition of the Washington Dairymen’s Association is their annual Dairy Queen Pageant.  The State Dairy Queens from 1964 are pictured here.  The Snohomish County Dairy Queen is featured to the far right in the photo. (Photo courtesy of the Stillaguamish Valley Genealogical Society)

A long tradition of the Washington Dairymen’s Association is their annual Dairy Queen Pageant. The State Dairy Queens from 1964 are pictured here. The Snohomish County Dairy Queen is featured to the far right in the photo. (Photo courtesy of the Stillaguamish Valley Genealogical Society)