A cow comeback in Juneau?

Posted: Wednesday, June 10, 2009

At one time, Juneau had a thriving dairy business.

From the late 1800's to the mid 1900's, Juneau was home to more than a dozen dairies, according to documents and photos in the Alaska State Library Historical Collections. All had closed their doors by 1965 due to the rising cost of feed and the cheaper products brought in by improved air and surface transportation.

The dairies were spread throughout the Juneau area. There was the Alaska Dairy owned by Joe Kendler, which covered 300 acres on what is now the Juneau Airport area. Also in the valley was the Mendenhall Dairy owned by George Danner, the Pederson Dairy owned by Albert Pederson. Downtown had the Juneau Dairy owned by Lee Smith and Douglas Island was home to the Sunny Point Dairy owned by Henry Hendrickson.

There was even a cow that lived at the Taku Glacier Lodge in the 1930's. According to their Web site, Hay and feed was shipped in and the cow was shipped out once a year to the Valley for breeding.

Could minicows give the Juneau dairy business a chance at a comeback? Bob Bellagh of the Juneau Commission on Sustainability's Food Security Subcommittee thinks the prospect is interesting.

"Having a dairy or beef farm in Juneau would definitely be in line with increasing Juneau's community food security. The lack of a dairy or beef farm in Juneau speaks to the fact that the economics of that activity here in Juneau are challenging. It'd be an interesting study to see if minicows would be more economically viable than normal cows in this area," Bellagh said. "I'll be certain to mention it at our next meeting!"

The next Food Security Subcommittee meeting is 5:15 p.m. Monday at the Mendenhall Valley Public Library.

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