Monday, July 20, 2015

One Size Doesn't Fit All

Dairy Farming is a very unique business.  You can’t use the same solutions, decisions or business models on the same two farms.  Every farm has its own unique family structure, business plan, goals, environment, and animals.  I often get asked why I am not farming with my father and brother.  The answer is easy: we’re not the same type of farmer.  That doesn’t make one of us right and the other one wrong, it just makes us different and unique.  There is no single one way to produce milk, but all milk is produced by farmers that care about their animals, their land, their families and the families that consume their products. 

My brother is a smart farmer.  He makes choices that work best for his family and the farm that they work on.  A few years ago he made the choice to build a new free stall barn to give his cows a better environment to live in.  Instead of taking the jump and building a new parlor at the same time he decided to postpone building the parlor until he was in a better financial position.  This wouldn’t have been my choice, I am more aggressive and would have built the parlor, but this is what works best for him.  He will never own a large dairy or employ a bunch of employees.  He knows what works best for his skills, goals and dreams. 

My brother decided to use the existing tie stall barn and make a few adjustments to milk cows faster as he grew his herd.  Now he is working towards building the parlor.  His herd is growing in numbers and because of the nicer living environment his cows are producing more milk per cow.  Those cows are also producing an even better product because the new barn helps them to stay clean and prevent infections.  What my brother decided to do worked as he predicted and was the best choice for him.  Now on the weekends, as my schedule permits, I am able to go home and help him milk.  I enjoy working in the original barn that has so many memories of my youth.  I was able to milk cows with my dad here.  This is where we shared the joys and stresses in our lives.  My brother did it differently than me, but in the end he did it the way it works best for him.  One size does not fit all in dairy farmer, but the end goal is the same: family farmers producing wholesome milk from healthy cows on land they care for. 
Dad's Tie Stall Barn: cows coming in for evening milking. Such a pleasure to milk beautiful cows in this timeless barn.

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I write this blog to share my passion for my cows and farming, please be respectful of that. I reserve the right to delete those comments which portray hate, call names, and are out right disrespectful. If you have an honest question, I will respond, to explain what we do on our farm, why we do it and how we do it. Please read with an open mind. My time to blog is short, as most of our days are spent caring for our beloved cows. Thank you!