I always knew I wanted to come back to our family’s dairy farm to work after college, but there was never a guarantee it would be possible. My family has been milking cows at our current farm since 1981, and it was only because of a recent farm expansion that my three brothers and I had the opportunity to become the next generation farming here.
Farms, like other businesses, must be economically sustainable because in the long run it is just that: a business. Even though we’re very passionate about what we do, we have to make a profit so that we can continue to produce the high-quality, nutritious dairy products we all enjoy.
BIGGER CAN BE BETTER
What’s interesting about farms today that have grown like ours is that we’re actually able to give each cow better overall care because of technology. We monitor every cow’s health, activity level, how much milk she’s producing and how much she’s eating. All this data is collected electronically, and we can manage each cow as an individual rather than a group. You do need a mix of data and human care. Together they are the perfect combination. Data and information paired with our own experience and intuition help us ensure our cows get the best care possible.
SUSTAINABILITY IS A FAMILY EFFORT
What I’m most proud of on our farm is just how well my family and I have worked together and the things we’ve accomplished in the last few years. We have made improvements on the farm every year and in our farm’s sustainability goals. Our sustainability plan includes things like:
Installing LED lights that use less electricity
Recycling water so it’s used multiple times on the farm
Using cow manure as a natural fertilizer to grow feed for our animals (reducing the cost and environmental impact of commercial fertilizer)
Investing in tech-friendly, fuel-efficient tractors and equipment
These efforts and more add up to an overall smaller carbon footprint for our farm and for the milk, cheese, butter and other dairy products we all love.