About seven years ago, my parents transitioned from a conventional, registered Holstein herd to a seasonal, rotationally-grazed herd, comprised mostly of Jerseys and Jersey-Holstein crosses. My parents have had their fair share of not-so-positive comments from neighbors and friends across Pennsylvania, but they have been happy with the new system. My dad says that in 2002, he had two choices: switch to grazing or sell the cows. Know what he’s saying now? He wishes he would have made the switch 10 years earlier.

Most of my friends at Penn State are from Holstein operations. My roommate’s family milks 30 registered Holsteins in a tie-stall barn. She gets so excited when she talks about the classification scores of the herd. Another friend comes from a 500-cow commercial operation in New York. When asked about the farm, he likes to talk about the success of the breeding program and the plans he has for the herd after his uncles retire.

One of my favorite things about being a freelance writer is being able to learn about all kinds of dairy farming. Everyone seems to have their own way of doing things, and they want to share their stories with others. I’ve always been impressed with how resilient and adaptable dairy farmers seem to be.

So here are some questions for the members of this network. What is the most unique way of dairy farming you have heard or read about? We all know that things are about to get really interesting in the dairy industry. What kind of farms do you think will suffer? What kind of farms will survive?

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Comment by Rachel Gerbitz on November 11, 2009 at 6:51pm
I went to national when it was at the Kalahari in 2008. A girl from my quiz bowl team made it through jepordy and a couple of the girls from rock went to cheer her on
Comment by Troy Lenssen on February 6, 2009 at 2:14pm
Whatever make the payments right?! I am interested in milking goats any ideas?
Comment by Ryan Curtis on January 29, 2009 at 3:39pm
It was Dyecrest Dairy. They are really good people.
Comment by Turner Swartz on January 28, 2009 at 7:07pm
Ryan - what is the name of that farm - PSU Dairy Science Club traveled to Colorado a couple years back. It wasn't by change Dyecrest?
Charlene - It is Courtney and Becky Hodge. I can get their info if you would like.
Comment by Godofredo Alba on January 28, 2009 at 4:43pm
Here, in central high lands in México, we are located in a semi arid region, we have a rain season only 90 days in summer (from July to September). There are many dairy farms in the traditional way, where there is water to irrigate; but in large areas there is no water. Many dairy producer in Jalisco state graze the cows as beef cows, but in dry season (winter and spring) they feed the cows with "nopales" (cactus) mainly. The cows live free, there is not any faciltiy in many cases, most of them milk the cows with portable machines. If I can, I'll send some pictures.
Comment by Ryan Curtis on January 27, 2009 at 10:56am
I have seen dairies that are 12,000 head and some that are barely 100 head. The best operation I have seen is a 1,600-head dairy in Colorado, and it's 100 percent registered. They have awesome genetics and a great calving program. They also have a website and do tours in their community, so the neighbors like them. They are in an area that doesn't allow them to expand, but they are really running a great operation. They also have done all they can to stay out of debt, so they have a business model that will allow them to make it through the tough times.
Comment by Charlene on January 27, 2009 at 7:44am
Hi Turner... I have heard of that farm... what is their names and contact info?? I have wanted to find them for a story.
Comment by Turner Swartz on January 26, 2009 at 6:44pm
Well Emily - During this summer, I lived in NH on a dairy farm during part of my internship. At the farm, they milked Milking Shorthorns, Guernseys, Jerseys, one Red and White Holstein, and one Black and White Holstein. All of the cows were housed in a bedding pack barn and allowed to graze when the pastures were green. What was interesting (aside from the breeds) was that they took their own milk and produced pudding out of it. The pudding was sold in cities nearby and I think they even sold some in NYC. It was neat to see how this 100 cow dairy started as a 2 heifer 4-H project nearly 20 years earlier - funny how some people get into dairy. You might not have grown up on a farm, but one 4-H project can turn into a lifetime investment.


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