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Central Illinois' only farmstead milk bottling creamery debuts

Central Illinois' only farmstead milk bottling creamery debuts

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FAIRBURY -- Matt Kilgus opened a half-gallon bottle of Kilgus Farmstead milk and pointed to the cream on top.

It's what makes his milk different from 99 percent of the milk on the market.

According to Kilgus, who has Central Illinois' only farmstead milk bottling creamery, the non-homogenized milk he sells throughout Central Illinois is tastier and healthier than the more common homogenized milk.

Kilgus, 27, who bottles about 2,400 gallons a week, hopes to develop a niche market, perhaps appealing to those particular about where their milk comes from.

"All is produced here from start to finish. We have total control over it," Kilgus said.

That includes his 80 Jersey cows, which Kilgus said give particularly rich milk.

Production began in early June and the facility, which includes milking and bottling operations, is operated by a half-dozen members of the Kilgus family.

Products include whole, 2 percent, skim and chocolate milk in gallon, half-gallon and pint sizes, Kilgus said.

He said his milk is healthier than homogenized milk, which has fat particles broken up and dispersed uniformly so the cream doesn't rise. That, in turn, makes it easier for fat to be absorbed into the body.

Like milk found in the grocery store, Kilgus Farmstead milk is pasteurized to kill bacteria and has Vitamin D added.

However, milk from the Fairbury creamery is more expensive than many homogenized milks, running $3.99 a gallon at some grocery stores, Kilgus said. It is or will be available at locations in Bloomington-Normal, Fairbury, Pontiac, Gibson City, Congerville and Streator.

If the trend toward non-homogenized milk catches on, Kilgus believes more operations like his $500,000 facility will open.

Kilgus, co-owner with his uncle, Paul Kilgus, said the family-run business used to sell to Prairie Farms before deciding to go it on its own.

"We spent a couple of years thinking about it and visited some farmsteads in Iowa and Indiana," Kilgus said.

Mark Steffen, co-owner of Dave's Supermarket in Fairbury, believes Kilgus will serve "people who like to buy things produced locally."

Steffen said the creamery's milk is popular with customers even though it costs more.

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