From our beginning in the 1940's we have grown from 40 cows into a 500-cow dairy, a milestone we marked in 2015. In 2016 we produced about 17 million pounds - nearly 2 million gallons - of milk. Most of the milk we produce is bought by Foremost Farms and made into cheese and butter.
All of our milking cows and dry cows are housed indoors in freestall barns, with access to fresh water, feed, and a clean area to lie down in at all times. We milk three times a day in a double-10 herringbone parlor.
To follow a dairy cow's life from birth to milking, see our "It's a Cow's Life" gallery in the Photos & Media section.
Like other areas of farming, dairying has become much more efficient through the years. Today's dairy cow produces as much milk as 5 cows did 50 years ago. Some of the ways we focus on sustainability in the dairy operation include:
Utilizing a nutritionist who creates specific rations for cows in different places in their lactation cycle. This helps eliminate waste and make each cow more efficient.
Almost all of the water used in the parlor is reused at least once.
All of the manure from the farm is used to fertilize fields on which we grow crops, reducing our need for commercial fertilizers.
The majority of our feed is grown within a few miles of the farm.
Very little of crop products is wasted: soybean stubble is used as feed filler, and cornstalk and wheat stubble is used for bedding for young animals.
Several of the additives to our feed ration include by-products that would otherwise go to waste. Unlike humans, cows' digestive systems can handle these products.
When it's time to cover our corn silage pile in the fall, we use recycled semi tires to hold the plastic covering on