Some are quick to throw out the label “Big is bad” when it comes to farm size. Dairy producers Ron and Zoey Brooks believe the opposite is true for them.
The father-daughter duo own and operate Brooks Farms 1855 LLC, in Waupaca, Wis. They currently run 1,200 crop acres and milk 250 cows, but a new freestall barn and parlor are nearing completion. The herd has been growing internally for the past few years, and their goal is to be in the new facility and milking about 700 cows in the very near future.
Ron and Zoey spoke about their growing farm at the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin (PDPW) Agricultural Community Engagement meeting held late last month. The farm was founded in 1855 by Ron’s great-great-grandfather.
Why did they make the decision to expand, amid all the challenges that dairy farmers face? “We believe in this industry. It’s our passion,” said Ron.
Zoey, who came back to the operation a year and a half ago, said, “Bigger is allowing us to be better.”
She went on to explain that this expanded herd size and upgraded facilities will allow them to be better managers of cows and people, and better managers of manure and nutrients. Features such as sand-bedded freestalls, rubber flooring, properly designed ventilation, and cow brushes will provide a better environment for the cows as well.
The Brooks also believe the upgrades will create a better culture for their family and their employees. Finally, the addition of a welcome and education center will be better for their community as it makes their farm more transparent.
“We want to create a culture in our community that sheds a positive light on dairy,“ Zoey said.
The farm expansion also leaves room for opportunity. Ron has three other daughters not working on the dairy at this time, but the business structure keeps the door open if any of them change their mind, or if anyone from the next generation wants to join the farm in the future.
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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2017
March 13, 2017