Imagine managing a dairy long-distance. That’s what Kylie Daniels does. She works for ADM Alliance Nutrition and lives in Alabama, but also helps manage Green Acres Dairy in Randolph Center, Vermont.
Daniels makes all the breeding and operating decisions and manages all marketing and sales. Her mother and step-father keep things running at home.
“I’m kind of an odd duck because I don’t dairy on a daily basis, yet I’m involved in it every day. I had three text messages today about cows and heifers that were in heat. We’re an odd little group, but we make it work,” Daniels says.
They milk 35 milking shorthorns, something else that sets them apart from most dairies. They originally had 150 milking shorthorns and holsteins, but they down-sized to what they currently have when Daniels was 14 years old.
After working with both, Daniels prefers the shorthorns to the holsteins, because, as she says, “they’re easier; they’ve got more personality to them; they’re a lot hardier; they breed back really fast; they don’t need a lot of special care; they’re great on pasture; healthwise, they’re really great.”
Another plus is the milking shorthorn community. Daniels enjoys taking their best cows and showing them at the World Dairy Expo. Last year, Daniels was elected to be a board member for the American Milking Shorthorn Society.
“Growing up with milking shorthorn breeders, we’re all a pretty close-knit group. It’s interesting how much like family we all are. It kind of keeps me drawn into it,” Daniels says.
Daniels enjoys sharing her love of milking shorthorns. Students in the dairy program at Vermont Technical College live at Green Acres and do chores for rent or come out with the veterinary to learn hands-on skills. One of Daniels’ favorite things about having the students there is that they gain an appreciation for milking shorthorns.
“For me, that’s a big deal. I think it opens their eyes and makes them open to other things down the line, even if they go back to a very commercial dairy that just has holstein cows. One of my favorite things, the few times I’ve been around, is when I’ve seen the switch, where they’ve gone, ‘Huh, they’re really not as bad as I thought they were,’” Daniels says.
The students are allowed to make decisions on a daily basis. They help with chores, flushing cows, breeding, vet work and other jobs.
What makes Daniels proud to dairy?
“Part of it’s the tradition—it’s what my family’s done, and kind of how we identify ourselves is as dairy farmers. That’s a big thing for me. But then there’s the idea that we’re actually putting out this safe, nutritious food product for people who can’t do it for themselves. I think that’s important,” Daniels says.