Passing a life’s work to a new generation

Charles Flodquist and John Richmond II

Apprentice program offers an opportunity

Colfax, Wisconsin — “I’ve enjoyed farming all my life.” With that statement, Chuck Flodquist may be speaking for quite a few veteran dairy graziers who would love to keep living the life.

But reality eventually comes calling. At retirement age, and three years past a back injury, Chuck recognizes he won’t be running his grass-based dairy forever. The 400-acre farm is a great place to grow grass and milk cows, and the steep slopes are better kept in forages than corn and soybeans. Continue reading “Passing a life’s work to a new generation”

Conventional tactics, unconventional dairy

Tafels combine cow comfort with no-grain feeding

Laurens, New York — Adam and Margaret Tafel do a lot of things that are considered good practices in the conventional dairy world.

They work hard at harvesting quality forages. They try to keep their cows comfortable in freestalls and tunnel ventilation. They watch body condition and feed accordingly. They’re trying to match the herd’s genetics with their farm to ensure optimum productivity and profitability. Continue reading “Conventional tactics, unconventional dairy”

Premiums welcomed, but not required

Heidels with cows

David just thinks A2 and no-grain are the most ‘ethical’ ways to make milk

Random Lake, Wisconsin – The future of alternative dairy might well be on display on a small organic farm operated by a maverick 70-year old with a graduate degree in crop chemicals.

David Heidel feeds no grain to his dairy animals and breeds his herd for A2 milk and receives not a cent in milk check premiums for these efforts. And David isn’t optimistic he’ll see such money in his remaining farming lifetime, what with his cooperative (CROPP/Organic Valley) unlikely to extend its Grassmilk no-grain procurement to this part of Wisconsin, and commercial A2 milk markets yet to be launched in the U.S. Continue reading “Premiums welcomed, but not required”

No grain, but 15,000 pounds of milk

Langmeiers do the job with great forage and well-hydrated calves

Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin — Jim Langmeier and his sons — Joe, Mike and Keith — are humble people who don’t pretend to be doing everything right. Spend some time visiting with these guys, and talk turns to concerns about disappointing milk solids tests, mistakes made with hay crops, and yearling heifers that aren’t up to par. The Langmeiers acknowledge they have a lot to learn about grazing and overall management of permanent pastures.

Says Jim, “We aren’t doing anything special.” Continue reading “No grain, but 15,000 pounds of milk”

Advice from 10 years of no-grain dairy

Moores: it’s all about energy and keeping flesh on cows

Nichols, New York— Rob Moore, who has not fed grain to his milking cows for the past 10 years, has mixed feelings toward the subject.

Rob is happy with his choice, saying “this is the way I want to farm.” Over the years he learned how to keep his cows in good body condition while getting enough organic milk out of them to provide family living and make payments on two farm mortgages. Today that organic check is usually above $28/cwt., but a decade ago it was closer to $11. Rob and his wife, Pam, believe no-grain offers opportunities for others, and Rob has said so at grazing conferences and other venues. Continue reading “Advice from 10 years of no-grain dairy”