The Modesto Bee
By John Holland
RIPON – The La Belle Inc. plant here makes cattle health products from colostrum, the stuff cows feed their newborns before the regular milk starts flowing.
The 30-employee operation could get bigger with its sale last month to PanTheryx, based in Boulder, Colo. The buyer plans upgrades that would make the East Fourth Street plant a bigger player in this low-profile niche of the dairy industry.
PanTheryx will close the La Belle headquarters plant in Bellingham, Wash., later this year and plans to move many of its 25 employees to Ripon and Phoenix, the Bellingham Herald reported.
All mammals produce colostrum, which provides their babies with nourishment and immunity against disease in the hours after birth. The Ripon site buys the excess from more than 500 dairy farmers in California, plant manager John Lehr said during a tour for The Modesto Bee last week.
The raw product is frozen on the farms in 4-gallon buckets, then is turned into a powder through what Lehr called “proprietary thermal treatment” at the plant. It then adds vitamins and vanilla flavoring and sells the packaged items to veterinarians and other users in the United States and beyond.
The roughly 20,000-square-foot plant operates under a permit from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
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Above: Employee Roberto Ramirez processes a dairy cattle health supplement made from colostrum, the first nourishing fluid secreted by a mother cow before milk production, in Ripon on Thursday. The plant has been operated by La Belle, which was acquired in February by PanTheryx, based in Boulder, Colo. John Holland email@example.com
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