In 2004, third-generation Plano dairy farmer Todd Moore beginning crafting artisan dairy products. He called the company Lucky Layla Farms. Now Moore has just put the finishing touches on Springville Farm, a state-of-the-art diary farm, so that he can start offering his local Lucky Layla goodies across the Southwest.
Springville Farm is kind of a resort for those of the bovine persuasion. The cattle there freely roam 1,180 acres of grassland and have access to two, 3-acre cooling lakes. Moore's Guernsey and Jersey cows swim (or float) in the lakes to keep cool.
But it's not solely about the Guernsey and Jersey cows' comfort. Naturally cooling the cows causes them to eat more grass and thus produce more milk. And it's that milk that becomes the farm-fresh, all-natural Lucky Layla products, including their drinkable yogurt.
The drinkable yogurt is made with fruit pulp and active probiotics (LD. Bulgaricus and S.S. Thermophilus) and clocks in at 200 calories per serving. They make them in a heap of flavors: banana, blackberry, blueberry, custard apple, guava, mango, passion fruit, piña colada, strawberry, peach, plain and pure (no sugar). Locally, it can be found at Whole Foods, Central Markets, Sprouts and Lucky Layla Farms Store.
I caught up with Todd Moore to find out more about what he and his cattle were up to.
How did you come to choose the name Lucky Layla Farms? Layla was the name of a three-time national champion Guernsey cow that our family owned.
With so many yogurt products out there, why do you think people will be drawn to yours? There are several reasons why our customers are drawn to Lucky Layla. We offer a drinkable yogurt, and while we have a couple of competitors, the ones that are out there are smoothies. Our product is a true artisan yogurt. We use real fruit with no thickeners, no powdered milk and no water.
Many of the competing companies are either buying milk or powdered whey and using thickeners. No one else is doing it the way we're doing it. Lucky Layla might be a more expensive product, but it's the healthiest. The fact that we use our own milk from Guernsey cows and we're making it ourselves, that's pretty unique.
Did you ever consider not continuing in the family business? Yes, several times. Owning your own business and continuing in the manufacturing end of the business is difficult. At times it can be really, really challenging. Being a small, artisan company breaking into a corporate-dominated retail market has been tough.
Isn't making an artisan product like these pricey? Why do it? Yes, artisan products are usually the most expensive. We do it because we're trying to preserve the family operation. We believe there's a niche to be filled because people want products with less processing, preservatives and additives. Customers want healthier products. The only way you can do it is to make an expensive product. There's no "cheap" healthy.
Do the cows really swim (or float) in the lakes? That must be quite a sight! Yes, most of the cows do. Cows can swim in water deeper then they can stand. They're sort of floating on their tippy toes.
Why are cattle typically put on concrete at a typical dairy operation and what does that mean for the milk? When cows are on concrete that usually means they are in confined facilities. In other words, not on a pasture. Being on concrete effects the longevity of the cow. Just like humans, if you're standing on concrete all day long, that's not going to be good for the wear and tear on your body.
Being on concrete doesn't directly change the quality of milk. However, it can affect the quality of milk if the cows lay in their own feces on the concrete. Cows don't do that if they're roaming on the pasture.
Why is it important to the product that you are a vertically integrated company? Quality control is a derivative of milk quality. If we can control the quality of milk before it goes into product, we can make a consistent product.
What else is produced at Lucky Layla Farms? We have four types of cheeses, caramel and butter. Lucky Layla's golden-hued butter reveals the true color of the milk produced by the Guernsey and Jersey cows and is traditionally churned and preservative-free.
The yogurt cheese is a result of heating and condensing the pure and plain yogurts down to the consistency of a spreadable cheese, and serves as the healthier alternative to cream cheese or sour cream at only 20 calories per serving. A rich, silky dark cajeta (dulce de leche or caramel milk) comes from condensed Lucky Layla milk and sugar, and is perfect for dipping or drizzling.
Does Springville Farm provide milk to any places other than Lucky Layla? Yes, Springville Farms provides milk to co-ops in the region and Lone Star Milk Producers.
Can people visit Lucky Layla and Springville Farm? Yes. Tours are available upon request at Lavon Farms. We're open from Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. A Lavon Farms tour lets people experience a vintage dairy facility. You can also visit Lavon Farm's Farm Store, which sells all of the Lucky Layla products.
If you want to check our state of the art dairy facility, you can make an appointment to visit Springville Farm. You can schedule tours for either location through our Web site, www.luckylayla.com and fill out the form on the "Contact Us" tab.