Your family. Your cows. The future of your business. Cargill helps feed these dreams and many more. We’ll share stories of how we help producers reach their goals of more milk production, improved component efficiency, higher income over feed costs or simply a better quality of life. It’s where dreams meet reality. It’s how Cargill helps dairies thrive.
Cargill donates over $1.2 million and 18,000 hours to local communities.
More than 150 specialists work with dairy producers every day to help feed their dreams.
Cargill has more than 100 years of animal nutrition experience rooted in trends, knowledge and customer insight.
“It was time to stop using caveman equipment to feed cows.”
More than 60,000 forage samples a year are analyzed to help fine-tune diets for customers.
When Dennis O’Hare was growing up on his family’s 20 cow Jersey farm in Western New York, he couldn’t dream of the operation that his future. Today, Dennis is partners in Rich-Ro Farms, a Michigan based operation milking over 5,000 cows, which proudly employs local citizens and supports its community.
Dennis works closely with their Cargill Dairy Focus Consultant, John O’Hare on the nutritional program to make the best use of their 6,000 acres of homegrown forages.
“So many things can be right with crop production, cow comfort and whatnot,” stresses Dennis, “but if you mess up the nutritional end, I don’t care what you’re doing right, you won’t have success.”
Success at Rich-Ro is measured by a cow average of 89.5 pounds of milk, and 6.94 pounds combined fat and protein. Rich-Ro fine tunes every element of their operation to improve efficiency and push the envelope on production.
“When it comes to our cropping program and planting strategy we look closer at the nutritional benefits,” says Dennis. “I’ll call and ask John questions on timing of cuttings, varieties of corn, starch content and fiber digestibility, all to make certain the end product is going to deliver the level of nutrients needed to drive production.”
Improving efficiencies and increasing components has helped Rich-Ro increase their bottom-line, and remain a competitive employer in their area, something Dennis takes great pride in.
“We make a product that has real value, and in that process we are able to provide people with good jobs,” emphasizes Dennis. “Making milk, working with cows… It doesn’t get much better than that, and I’m thankful we can share that with others.”
Staying on top of new technology, having excellent employees and an accurate nutrition program have been the keys to success at Keller Farms, located in Fort Recovery, Ohio. Investing in these three key areas have helped Keller Farms not only sustain their business, but more than double the operation in size to 950 mature dairy cows, 900 replacement heifers, and 1,350 acres of farm land growing forages that include haylage, corn silage, ryelage and sudex.
“When I was young I dreamed of doing what my father and grandfather did,” says Dan Keller, partner in Keller Farms with his dad and brother, “I’m thankful I get to live that dream every day.”
The farm’s growth was strategically planned and completed over a course of eight years, working closely with their nutritionist, Cargill Dairy Focus Consultant Ryan Aberle. “Ryan’s always crunching numbers, doing whatever it takes to help improve the farm’s bottom line,” says Dan.
As the farm grew, they began to look to Ryan for consulting in areas beyond nutrition. The team provided educational tools and technology that kept the farm up-to-date on improved management practices on everything from lactation to calving.
“The team provided several different customized tracking sheets that put all of our information together, and helped make it easier for us to watch trends and spot key indicators,” adds Dan.
Working with a well-rounded consulting team that emphasizes everything from forage quality, to animal health and comfort has helped Dan and his partners achieve their expansion goal. Today they work closely with the team to prepare for the future, and maintain a high-standard of quality.
“Working with our Cargill team inspires us to do better every day,” says Dan. “They motivate us to be the best we can be. Their positive attitude and helpful insights lead us in the direction of success.”
A success Dan dreams to one day pass on to the next generation.
Follow-through and hard work are everything on a dairy. It’s how plans turn into actions that fuel growth. For Galen Smith at Coldstream Farms, follow-through and hard work are two of the first things that come to mind when he describes his Cargill Dairy Focus Consultant, Mark Harting. “I’ve never worked with anyone that has the passion I see in Mark Harting. His work ethic is second to none,” the Washington dairyman says.
Coldstream Farms has grown steadily to 1,250 cows since reentering the dairy industry in 1991 and is poised for growth in the future. Galen married into the family operation and describes the growth as mastering one small step before taking on the next one. “Better before bigger” is the farm’s mantra which is focused on creating a bright future for his children and their community. “I want to provide opportunities for our kids to become part of the dairy,” he says. “I can show them I love what I do, I’ve been a great dad who’s involved in their lives and we have a successful business. We care about ourselves, our employees and our animals.”
Cargill takes a team approach to Coldstream Farms which Galen describes as unique to the independent consultants typical in the area. Every other Monday, the Cargill team joins the dairy’s management meeting. The topics range from employee training and feed shrink to fresh cows and lameness. The goal is to keep getting better. “Cargill is willing to challenge us” he says.” I feel that any obstacle or challenge we face here, the team we have can develop a plan to overcome it.”
Each week during the year, forages are sampled with dry matters run every other day. Particle size is evaluated every month. Harting walks the cows routinely as well. The steady stream of information allows regular dietary changes to ensure consistency to the cows. The result is preventing problems before they ever happen. “When I have problems, I can eliminate things immediately,” he says. There is always something to overcome, but our data gives me confidence I’ve already answered questions already. I want to get it right the first time.”
“I want to have an attractive, profitable operation and I want this to be a great place to live and work.” These are the words of Joseph vanLieshout, one of five brothers and a son that own and operate Brabant Farm LLC in Verona, New York. The group is made up of the 2nd and 3rd generations to run the farm, following in the foot-steps of the five brothers’ father and uncle. Brabant Farm has been a Cargill customer for 25 years, served by Dairy Focus Consultant (DFC) Tom Junglen. The vanLieshout family is working together to continuously improve and grow the operation.
Since 1985, the milking herd has grown from 200 cows to 650 and there are plans to add another 125 animals within the next year. The most recent addition is a new transition cow barn which they built with the help and encouragement from Junglen. The vanLieshout brothers relied on several Cargill dairy team members and visited other Cargill customers, so they could see for themselves what would work best for them. The new barn has separate pens for each group of cows, and there is room for more pens when they need them. This new facility will help improve cow health in early lactation and encourage higher production numbers. “Tom’s like a detective when he’s on the farm,” vanLieshout says. ‘He helps us find what we can improve.”
Brabant Farm LLC has plans not only to increase their herd size in the next year, but also improve milk production by ten pounds. Junglen is actively working to bring the best of Cargill’s resources to Brabrant to help feed their dream.
For Aaron Hoover of A&E Dairy in Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania, the passion for dairy farming was undeniable. Though he milked cows as a teenager, Aaron left farm life behind for several years to work in the construction field, wanting to venture out on his own. Before long, Aaron says, he realized he missed working with cows. Beginning as herdsman at a historic Bicentennial Farm property, he took over as owner in 2011. Now, he manages a 70-head herd, producing an average of 6.7 pounds of milk fat and protein combined. That level of production places him in the Cargill 6 Pound Club. Aaron acknowledges that leaving his comfort zone showed him how much he loves dairy farming. He feels strongly that liking your work is critical to success in the dairy business.
This progressive attitude is a primary factor in Aaron’s success with Cargill Animal Nutrition and Dairy Focus Consultant (DFC) Wayne Nolen. Aaron benefits from Cargill resources such as the MAX® system, which allows him to maximize forages while still feeding his herd the nutrients their bodies need. Aaron trusts Wayne’s judgement, and turned to him for help after experiencing frequent cases of ketosis in his fresh cows. Wayne encouraged Aaron to feed them BMR corn silage. Soon after, his fresh cows were producing at higher volume and he saw fewer ketosis cases.
Hoover’s willingness to try new things, paired with Nolen’s ability to offer effective solutions through Cargill, has created an innovative working relationship between the two. As a Cargill customer, Aaron works with Wayne to navigate a range of animal health and nutrition concerns, improving the production of his herd. “At the end of the day,” Aaron says, “I simply want to see my cows healthy, happy and making plenty of milk.” Through guidance and resources from Cargill, Wayne helps Aaron feed those dreams.
In 2012, Scott Seward’s herd rolling herd average was just over 28,500 pound of milk. While many would enjoy that level of production, it was below expectations for the Wisconsin dairyman. “Our herd average hit 30,000M in 1992. We’ve been the top herd in the county for over 20 years,” Scott says. “So when fell to 28,500M, it was time to look for a new nutritionist.”
Scott started working with Bennet Crochet in May 2012 upon the advice of his veterinarian. He’s found the Cargill Dairy Focus Consultant to be the right advisor to help the 420-cow herd achieve his production dreams. Rolling herd average on the registered Holstein herd is now 35,400M with 3.6% Fat and 3.12% Protein. More importantly, cow longevity and health has improved. Scott now has a pen full of high-producing cows in their third lactation or more. “I like having good looking cows that last,” he remarks. Three cows have produced over 320,000 pounds of milk lifetime. The nearly 100% homegrown herd has a Breed Age Adjusted (BAA) score of 103.8.
Bennet walks the herd every three weeks and is an invaluable second set of eyes for the fourth generation dairyman. “He’s helped us get to where we are today,” Scott says of Bennet. “He helps us get better.” The diet is heavy in forages grown on the 900-acre farm. 60% of the corn is BMR and haylage is stored in bags. “Some people might say I’m too picky, but I’m not afraid of a little extra work if it gets us more milk,” Scott says. Bennet has worked with Scott on his fresh cows recently. Urine pH is monitored routinely and ration particle length and moisture content are watched closely.
It’s the little things that make the difference for Seward’s Dairy. “The only real hobby I have is hunting, so we spend a lot of time at the dairy,” Scott says with a laugh. And it’s this high-level of intensity with which he manages his dairy that makes Cargill the perfect fit to help feed Seward’s Dairy dreams.
A dairy without various commodities on-hand isn’t a typical way to manage nutrition on a large operation. Then again, Kurt Duxbury isn’t your typical Wisconsin dairyman. The Quantum Dairy manager didn’t grow up on a farm, and was a high school principal until 2004. He joined his father-in-law’s 400-cow dairy that year and has managed its growth to 2,500 cows and 42 employees. Many of Kurt’s former students now work at Quantum Dairy. Herd average is 95 pounds of milk with 3.65% fat and 3.15% protein.
Cargill Dairy Focus Consultant Bennet Crochet has done the nutrition work at the northern Wisconsin farm for eight years. He brings a calm demeanor and large dairy experience to table which Kurt appreciates. Two years ago, Kurt worked with Bennet and Marc Braun from Cargill to simplify the nutrition program. Quantum Dairy now receives a daily feed delivery from a Cargill facility about 45 miles away. They add haylage, corn silage and ground corn which they grow. That’s it. Only four different rations are fed. Feed is pushed up every hour. Kurt explained that feeding and mixing time has been reduced from seven hours a day to only four hours. The dairy also saves about 1,000 hours per year on its payloader by not managing a commodity shed. Most importantly, “our feed is mixed perfectly, every time,” the Wisconsin dairyman explains. “Cargill has world-class equipment to mix feed down to the ounce. I’m not sure why we use caveman equipment like a payloader to mix feed on large dairies.”
The relationship thrives on a high level of trust between Kurt and his Cargill team. Bennet is at the dairy every two weeks to discuss herd performance and what’s ahead in forage quality. In between those visits, Kurt is routinely talking to Cargill commodity analysts to ensure he’s paying the best price for his feed. “I could only watch the markets about 15 minutes a day before,” he says. “Now, I feel like I have a whole team doing that for me all day, every day. I don’t really worry about it.”
Cargill is helping the former educator reach his dreams for the dairy. The next goals Kurt has set are a 100-pound tank average and internal growth to 3,000 cows. “Then, I will be happy for my career,” the dairyman says. “We’re building this for 150 years from now,” Kurt adds. “It’s our dream to keep the country, the country. Dairies are a great way to help protect the open spaces we all enjoy.”
“I always push for more. More milk, more components and more margin.” That is the drive of Ray Robinson, a dairy producer and Cargill customer located in Burley, Idaho who’s been successfully milking cows for 50 years.
Ray has a longtime relationship with his trusted Cargill Dairy Focus Consultant, Dr. Shane Holt. To keep pushing the envelope Ray constantly challenges Shane with new ideas on feeding strategies and ingredients he would like to test on his herd. His never-ending quest is to reach higher energy-corrected milk at an increased margin.
Shane is able to utilize the Cargill Dairy MAX® system to virtually evaluate any changes Ray is considering before anything is ever implemented in the dairy’s feeding program. The MAX® system recreates the dairy in a virtual world, using a wide range of animal and environmental data, performance factors and even the physical structure of the feed for an in depth analysis of performance. Shane can review the results from the MAX® system at both the diet and whole farm level for feed efficiency, animal productivity, and income over feed costs in real time. This gives him the power to provide sound answers to the challenges Ray brings to the table. At the same time, the MAX® system also enables Shane to identify any limiting factors to performance in the herd or find any opportunities that could result in higher energy-corrected milk at an increased margin.
By virtually analyzing ration changes with the MAX® system before implementation, Ray knows Shane has saved him a lot of time and money and that’s made him invaluable to his business. Now anytime someone comes along trying to sell Ray on a new ingredient or formulation, he sends them to Shane so he can analyze it first. If Shane believes the change will help Ray get more, then Ray is happy to try it.
“On our operation we want to be better than the industry average, so we do things differently.” That is the commitment of Holt Dairy, a 4,000-cow operation and Cargill customer located in Newcastle, Utah. When the business was started in 2010, the owners had no dairy experience, just the dream of a successful family farm they could raise their children on.
Holt Dairy began working with Cargill at the very beginning stages, when they were only feeding heifers and preparing for the day they would milk cows. From the start, the teaching they received from Cargill was invaluable to helping Holt Dairy learn what being dairymen is all about. From the different nutritional needs of animals at various life stages to better employee management, the support they received was always tailored to the unique circumstances on their operation. Holt Dairy quickly found having a trusted resource made life less stressful on the dairy, and more relaxing at home.
Today, with the help of their Cargill Dairy Focus Consultant (DFC), Dr. Shane Holt, the dairy has removed dry hay and dry triticale from their diet and are feeding all silage. To make this dream a reality, Holt Dairy had to get everything perfect, from forage quality to their mixing/loading technique. They give a lot of praise to their DFC for his out-of-the-box thinking and dedication to their goal. Staying true to their commitment to do it better by doing it different, Holt Dairy enjoys a herd average in the mid 90’s, and the bewilderment their all silage ration has on others that drop by the farm.
Always striving to improve proficiency, Holt Dairy strives to utilize more and more farm-produced-forages to feed their herd. They know Cargill will help them make this dream a reality, too.
The Dairy Herd Improvement Association (DHIA) ranks the top herds in Pennsylvania based on rolling herd average each month. Cargill customer Brymesser Farms, LLC, in Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania, consistently ranks among the top 20 dairies in the state. Currently, they are averaging more than 30,000 pounds of milk and a combined 6.23 pounds of milk fat and protein. Mike and Matt Brymesser, the 7th generation owners of the dairy, have set their sights on the top spot.
Cargill Dairy Focus Consultant (DFC) Noah Hughes has been working with this team of brothers for the past ten years. Cargill feeds all of the Brymesser herd, from calves through milking cows. Calves are started on milk replacer, weaned off onto a pellet followed by a custom grower. Once they hit 400 pounds, then all animals are fed a one-group TMR (Total Mixed Ration) diet. Connecting the nutrition at each stage through the dairy has improved Brymesser’s herd performance as well as profitability. There is an outstanding level of trust between the dairy and Hughes. “Noah is good at always being cost conscious,” Mike Brymesser comments, “while still putting the very best in front of the cows.”
Brymesser Farms has reached the top spot on the DHIA list of Cumberland County and their dream is to be #1 of the 3,884 dairies tested by DHIA and Dairy One in Pennsylvania. Hughes is helping them work towards that goal in a profitable manner. Performance can’t come at the expense of the cow health. “When people drive by this farm, I want them to say ‘I want to drink milk from that place,’” Brymesser says. Being the top herd in a state like Pennsylvania is a big goal, but Brymesser is confident they will reach it. “With Cargill, we know we can be the number one DHIA herd in Pennsylvania someday,” he says.
Michael Wenger farms alongside his father-in-law at Trackside Acres in Kutztown, Pennsylvania. The 68 milking-cow herd struggled with herd longevity for many years. Cows were only lasting three lactations. Wenger turned to Cargill Dairy Focus Consultant (DFC) Steve Halahan for answers in 2013. He asked Halahan to focus first on improving the health, energy levels and production of the 60 days post-fresh cow group.
Halahan needed to find a diet that would solve this nutrition challenge and fit within the dairy’s tie-stall barn feeding system. He brought in Dr. Christopher Canale, Cargill Technology Manager, to help customize a bagged fresh cow feed. That way, Wenger could simply add it to his TMR mixer and easily feed his fresh cows separately. “I like the teamwork that Cargill brings; even if someone doesn’t know the solution, they don’t stop until they find someone who does,” Wenger says. The fresh cow feed designed by Canale and Halahan was tailored to the dairy’s nutritional needs and allowed for easy feeding to a group of select cows in a tie-stall facility.
Since making the change, Wenger has improved the lifespan within his herd from three lactation to an average of six. “I know nutrition is important. What they eat is what they are,” comments Wenger. Now, Wenger and Halahan have set their sights on continued improvement and feeding new dreams for the dairy. “After Steve leaves, he always comes back with an answer. He’s very positive, and shares goals with me. It’s very motivating.”
“We really want to be the best. And that’s where we are right now in the 6 Pound ClubTM.” Those are the words of George DeRuyter & Sons Dairy, a 6 Pound ClubTM member and Cargill customer from Outlook, Washington. Cargill created the 6 Pound ClubTM to recognize customers who’ve reached the elite level of producing six pounds or more of combined milk fat and protein per head per day. DeRuyter & Sons Dairy is currently averaging 85 pounds of milk with 6.15 pounds of fat and protein components.
The 5,000-cow dairy has been working with Cargill Dairy Focus Consultant Dr. Shane Holt for many years and considers Shane the head nutritionist on the dairy team. Shane uses the Milk Revenue Calculator, a tool exclusively available from Cargill, to track the profitability of the DeRuyter’s high component goals and progress towards them. The Milk Revenue Calculator determines Milk Fat+Protein Component Income Over Feed Cost. That measure gives DeRuyter & Sons Dairy a good approximation of dairy profitability since 80% of the milk check is determined by component production in most markets. Shane uses this calculator to help DeRuyter & Sons Dairy ensure that higher performance is always captured with an eye on profitability. In addition, Shane uses the Milk Revenue Calculator to determine and track Component Efficiency. Component Efficiency measures the biological efficiency of the herd in turning pounds of feed into pounds of total milk fat and protein. It’s a powerful measure of how efficiently the herd is performing.
DeRuyter & Sons Dairy have high expectations for their herd, and are targeting 100 pounds of milk tank average with even higher components. Their dream is to be amongst the first into the 7 Pound Club. Nutrition will be essential to reaching these performance goals and Shane is already helping DeRuyter & Sons Dairy feed their 7 Pound Club dream.
Melichar Broad Acres was homesteaded in 1937 by Charles and Lola Melichar and today is home to 1,150 cows. Production is over 80 pounds of milk on a herd that’s 60 percent two-year-olds. They’ve reached as high as 100 pounds and were consistently over 90 pounds before a 2014 expansion. Adam and Kendall Melichar are the fourth generation on the farm, and they dairy with his parents, Jim and Sherri.
In 2003, Melichar Broad Acres was plagued with a number of cow health issues and milk production challenges. Herd average stagnated at 70 pounds. Pneumonia was widespread and nearly every fresh cow was treated for something. Adam estimated he spent four to six hours a day in the fresh pen treating cows. “It was discouraging for everyone,” he recalls. “We just weren’t getting anywhere.”
Adam connected with Dr. Brian Strang, a Cargill Dairy Specialist, in 2005. Brian uncovered an issue that was holding back the herd and causing many of the health issues. Forages harvested at Melichar Broad Acres is different from forages harvested further inland because the dairy sits less than 10 miles from Lake Michigan. Due to the lower growing degree days, the forages tend to be higher in NDF digestibility while the starch concentration in corn silage and corn would be lower than expected. Brian put Cargill’s forage testing through the Elk River Innovation Center to work and properly balanced the diet. “Just like that, we had more milk,” Adam says. Within no time, the herd jumped 15 pounds of milk with the same management and same forages. Fresh cows were up 30 pounds on only a one-pound increase in feed intake. Cow health improved dramatically. Fresh pen work now only takes 30 to 45 minutes a day even though the herd is twice as large as it was in 2003. “We’re surprised if we have a fresh cow problem now,” Adam says.
A 2014 new milking parlor and freestall barn construction has put all of the pieces in place for a bright future at Melichar Broad Acres. “I feel like we’re really set up for growth,” Adam says. “The cows are healthy and consistent. We’ve got the right team in place. It’s fun to see all of the pieces coming together.”
“I never felt the need to shop around,” says dairyman Glen Miller about his decades-long working relationship with Cargill Dairy Focus Consultant (DFC) Wayne Nolen. Miller is a fifth-generation operator of Fern Valley Farms, and he manages the 60-head milking herd largely on his own. He has worked with Nolen for more than 20 years, resulting in a close partnership between the pair. Often short on help and time, Miller relies on his Cargill DFC for guidance with nutrition, animal health, management and anything else he needs to run the dairy effectively.
Cargill’s MAX® technology is at the core of the nutrition services Nolen provides. Nolen uses the MAX® system to keep the right balance of maximizing forages in the feeding program, while adjusting formulations accordingly to stretch silage supplies. Nolen also monitors milk components to create diets that will boost herd fat and protein levels and maximize profitability. Miller trusts Nolen as a partner in the dairy and asks him to oversee feed inventory, assist with maintaining performance records, and even place feed orders to save him time. Regular communication between the two is important and they use phone and text message to make it easy.
Faced with the challenge of operating his dairy independently, Glen Miller has seen significant value in his relationship with Cargill and DFC Wayne Nolen. Miller appreciates and depends on the comprehensive support and in-depth resources available to him as a Cargill customer. The simple, effective solutions offered by Cargill Animal Nutrition, combined with a productive and open customer-DFC relationship, have enabled Miller to continue to feed his dreams.
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