The Hardest Decision A Dairy Farmer Has To Make!

We have been facing the hardest decision a dairy farmer ever has to make – whether or not to sell his cows. After months of hard thought and long emotional discussions, we have decided that we are going to sell our herd. This hasn’t been an easy decision to make, since the farm has been in the family for three generations. It was bought by Steve’s grandfather in 1929 who started a mixed breed dairy herd and maple sugar business. The farm was taken over in 1960 by Steve’s father and mother, Daton and Virginia, and they created a nice herd of registered Jerseys, who are the ancestors of the cows we have today. Steve and I started running the farm in 1998 and we had hoped that there would be a fourth generation to continue after we retired. But both of Steve’s sons, Jason and Michael, have taken good jobs off the farm and have created their own separate, happy lives. Steve never pressured them to stay on the farm, since he wanted them to make their own choices in life. And we are both glad that they are so successful in what they chose to do. However, since there is no one to take over, we came to a point in our lives where a decision about the farm had to be made. Both of us are getting older and we both have had health issues. Although Steve is feeling well right now, I still am having troubles with my back and will be unable to milk ever again. The farm buildings and equipment are also getting older and would need some expensive upgrades if we wanted to continue farming for much longer.  It didn’t make sense to put a lot of money into buying new equipment and making building repairs if the farm wasn’t going to continue on to the next generation. So we made the hard decision to sell the herd now. But because we care deeply about our herd and the cow families that we have created, we are going to sell them as one unit, from the oldest milking cow down to the youngest calf. We don’t want to have an auction, where we would have to watch the cows go off to many different locations and unknown farms. We want to find them a good home with someone will care for them the way we have done. We hope we can sell to a young farmer looking to start up a dairy or an established dairyman wanting to expand his herd, who will appreciate the time and love that we have put into our herd and the deep-pedigreed cow families that we have created. We want to sell them sometime between now and next spring, so we are starting to spread the word throughout our Jersey Association and our local agricultural society that our cows are for sale. Also, if there is any one of you out there that know of a dairy farmer looking for a small, well-bred herd of registered Jersey cows, please have them get in touch with us. Although we are selling the cows, we aren’t retiring. We will still continue our maple sugaring business and we even have plans to expand our sugarbush. That will keep us busy during the fall, winter, and spring months. But the year round twice-a-day milkings and the summer crop work will be over. We know that it will be a very emotional day for us when the cows actually leave, since it will be very sad to see them go. But on the other hand, it will be nice know that we will finally be able to have summers off!

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Comment by William rogers on December 1, 2014 at 8:14pm
I can very well relate to your story,I started milking on a rented farm with no money 27 years ago and bought current farm 21 years ago against all odds,both physical,and financial. I sacrificed my time,and body for the love of dairying,and it has cost my marriage,and now alone with a son who has no interest in my 50,s,the writing is on the wall for me too
Comment by Christina Winch on October 22, 2014 at 7:48pm
Thank you for sharing your thoughts about making this tough decision. It's never easy to make life changing decisions like this. Even though your future will not involve milking cows, I am sure it will be bright.



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