By Vina Medenilla
Producing milk without preservatives, additives, or extenders is what Pinkie’s Farm has been recognized for. Pinkie Limcaoco, businesswoman and proprietor of Pinkie’s Farm, has been practicing this method since 2009. Although this means that the shelf life of the products is shorter, she chooses to stay true to her natural farming principles that keep the business going.
At first, she only gave her products to family and friends, thinking that their storage life will make it infeasible for retail. But when she found out that there was a demand for naturally produced and non-UHT (ultra high-temperature-pasteurization) milk, she tried selling her products to a limited market.
A tale of growth and farm values
Limcaoco has been in the business industry for quite some time, something that she has used to her advantage. “I think our big difference is our adherence to all-natural dairy farming to the point of sacrificing volume and efficiency,” says Limcaoco on their edge among other dairy farms.
When asked how her interest in agriculture piqued, she said, “I attended a lecture in UPLB about dairy farming with my husband and that’s what started our interest. We also liked the idea of working with consultants from UPLB and learning from them.”
After making the goods available to the public, the increasing demand pushed Limcaoco to add more items to her product list. So apart from fresh milk, she eventually offered Greek yogurt, flavored yogurt, frozen yogurt, fresh butter, and more.
Despite the budding demand for these goods, Limcaoco never veered from her standards in farm processes; she kept the products all-natural, with no preservatives and additives, even if it meant higher cost and longer production time. Pinkie’s farm is found in Lipa, Batangas. It started with three dairy cows. Now, the numbers have risen to 150 heads that consist of various breeds: Holstein, Sahiwal, Jersey, Kiwi-cross, and Aussie Reds.
These cows are fed with grass and corn which comes from in and outside the farm. As their herd grew, sourcing grass became a challenge for them, given that the grass requirement for the animal feed increased, too. “The pasture is really for the cows to move around in, but there is not enough grass there to feed all of them,” said the farmer.
To attain the amount of grass needed on the farm, they searched for empty areas around them and connected with their neighbors. “It’s a very friendly and supportive community.” Limcaoco adds, “When a business grows, the biggest problem is really keeping up with the growth of your sales. We’re lucky that we’ve grown slowly but steadily.” In terms of processing the goods, she says that it’s “very natural and simple, without any chemicals.” They pasteurize the milk before turning them into value-added products like cheese and butter.
Other than managing the pasture, they tend a few fruit trees on the farm like avocados and lanzones, which also adds to their profit at times.
The milk that they offer and use in the dairy products comes from the farm itself. They sell fresh full cream milk and low-fat milk with no added sugar for P75 (200ml) and P240 (one liter), while the milk with added sugar are available in chocolate, coffee, and mango flavors that are sold from P85 (200ml) to P250 (one liter). The shelf life of their milk is around seven to nine days. Pinkie’s farm also processes yogurts that range from P85 (200g) to P500 (one kilogram), which can be consumed within four weeks.
If you’re looking for a product with longer shelf life, they also have frozen yogurts in different flavors priced at P110/120g and P370/375g. These can last up to three months in the refrigerator. Other dairy products include butter (P120 and up), white cheese (P150/200g), cultured buttermilk (P200 and up), and more. They market them through social media, resellers, and their hubs found in Metro Manila. They also have delivery services in Batangas and other parts of Luzon.
To reduce plastic usage, they’ve opted to use glass bottles as containers. “We’d love to encourage more people to recycle because the problem of waste is affecting us all and we don’t realize that if each of us does our small part, we can make a difference.”
Pinkie’s Farm also offers tours that are currently on pause due to the pandemic. But since farming activities continue, with the support of online marketing efforts, they have managed to get steady sales amid the quarantine period.
The farm’s workforce mostly consists of young individuals, whom the majority applied to fulfill the required work hours needed for international employment, but decided to stay for a longer period. “Our small farm is used by many universities as an informal training farm for their graduating class, so we attract a lot of new graduates.” Through lectures and hands-on tasks on the farm, these helpers gain experience in dairy farming, giving them a good background that is beneficial when applying for future work.
Lessons from the barn
“For me, the most important tip is that the person in charge of tending your cows and farm should have a genuine love for the animals,” Limcaoco expresses that, love can’t be faked because it reflects in the cows’ health, output, and farm culture.
“As I said, we are a small family farm and our style is more personal and hands-on vs. high-tech. We use standard techniques and protocols that are universally known. Dairy farming is a traditional business and many practices are still present,” added the farmer. Despite the market competition, she continues to be committed to implementing their farming values and practices to provide the same quality and service to their old and new consumers.
Improving the farm output, expanding the barn, and releasing new products are the things that the Limcaocos are planning to do next for the farm’s continuous growth.
Photos courtesy of Pinkie’s Farm.
For more information, visit Pinkie’s Farm.
This article appeared in Agriculture Magazine’s July to August 2021 issue.