Tag Archives: dairy farming

Oregon Dairy Farmers Step Up for #dairydanceoff

Dairy farming can be tough. It’s a 24 hour, 7 days a week responsibility, and fluctuating prices don’t always compensate for the hard work. But dairy farmers are also resilient – and creative.

What started as a fun idea from dairy farmers Jessica Peters from Pennsylvania and Katie Pyle from Maryland became a nationwide trend on social media. Using the #dairydanceoff hashtag, they decided to dance the blues away and challenge others to do the same.

In her post, Peters says, “Let’s show the world that even though dairy farming is tough right now, you can’t keep a good famer down” Their challenge: stay positive and keep on dancing. And many dairy farmers responded with #dairydanceoff videos of their own.

Oregon dairies were no exception. Rickreall Dairy and the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council asked the Oregon Dairy Princess-Ambassadors to get the party started. And they sent a challenge out to other Oregon dairies who have followed suit:


Rickreall Dairy got the party started.


Eberhard’s MooMoo Belle milked it for all it was worth.


Cloud Cap Farm’s dancers deserve a round of applause.


Tillamook Dairy Farmer refused to participate … or did he?


For more #dairydanceoff fun, be sure to follow the hashtag! And be sure to show Oregon Dairy Farmers your support by following them, liking their posts and sharing them with your friends.

RELATED LINK:

Ten Oregon Dairy Farms to Follow on Facebook

New School Meals on the Menu for Oregon Students

The words “school cafeteria food” are taking on new meaning as Chef Garrett Berdan is training a growing number of child nutrition program professionals to prepare delicious and nutritious food for Oregon students.

A series of six culinary training events are underway to help improve school cafeteria menus statewide. With support from the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council and the Oregon Department of Education, Child Nutrition Programs, this popular program is now in its eighth year.

The 2018 series includes Central Point, Nyssa, Bend, Salem, Umatilla and Hood River.

Chef Garrett Berdan, RDN, coaches child nutrition program professionals on cooking-from-scratch culinary skills, while preparing 15 different recipes. It is offered at no cost to school nutrition professionals, who are able to practice menu planning, weights and measures, knife skills and other culinary techniques.

The preparation of healthy meals for students emphasizes nutrient-rich foods, because studies show that well-nourished kids perform better in school.

“These trainings use Oregon State University Extension Food Hero recipes that meet USDA school nutrition requirements and emphasize using locally produced foods and ingredients,” said Erin Hirte, Manager of Youth Wellness for the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council. “Oregon farmers are helping provide creative solutions to old challenges that will benefit students now and into the future.”

Oregon’s dairy farm families and processors invest in youth wellness and education. They are involved with schools across the state, supporting programs such as this training.

 

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Four Seasons of Oregon Dairy Stories

Looking back over the past year, there were a lot of great stories about Oregon dairy farmers, processors and the positive work they support with schools, health professionals and communities across the state.

In case you missed them, here are links to some notable posts we shared in 2017:

Umatilla Learning Connection Town Hall Reaps Positive Results

What I Learned on My First Visit to a Dairy Farm

21st Century Dairy Farm, 21st Century Dairy Farmer

Grants Support Strengthening Oregon Schools and Students

New Elk Meadow Students’ Video Highlights Healthy Habits

Community Inspired to Live Stronger, Healthier and Happier

Outstanding in His Field: Noah Miramontes on Dairy Farming and Soccer

Meet the Miramontes Family: First Generation Oregon Dairy Farmers

Seven Things You Should Know About Large Dairies

Every Day is Earth Day for Dairy Farmers

Exploring New Markets for Dairy Exports

Southeast Asia Dairy Trade Mission Updates

School Culinary Trainings Spice Up the Menu

Back to School: Literacy Project Helps Bridge Gap

Eight Questions for an Oregon Dairy Mom

Oregon Celebrates School Wellness Awards

Adopt a Farmer Program Includes Oregon Dairies

Milk Builds Strong Schools in Oregon

Is DASH the Best Diet … Ever?

Improving School Meals for Oregon Students

Two Great Ways You Can Enjoy the Milk Carton Boat Race

Starting the Day out Right with School Breakfast

Farming with Innovation and Heart Earns National Award for Rickreall Dairy

Brews to Moos: Cows Savor Brewery Byproduct

For This Nurse, Dairy Farming Provides the Perfect Antidote

Grant Helps Hermiston School Connect Technology, Nutrition

Dairy Princess Ambassador Goes International

Milk Celebrated as Official Beverage of Oregon, OSAA

Oregon Schools Invited to Apply for School Wellness Awards

Stacy Foster Selected to Manage Oregon Dairy Industry Relations

Oregon’s Newest Creamery Invites You to the Farm

Advancing Health, Wellness and Education in Rogue Valley

New Adopt a Farmer Video Features Oregon Dairy

Ten Oregon Dairy Farms to Follow on Facebook

Recent articles have also covered the DASH Diet, solar panels and milk as Oregon’s official state beverage. Stay tuned, because we have more interesting and exciting stories coming your way in 2018. If you have a burning question or a topic you’d like to see us cover, just let us know.

Ten Oregon Dairy Farms to Follow on Facebook

Did you know there are more than 2 billion active users on Facebook, and the average person follows 338? You can follow your hairdresser, your kid’s school teachers and even your post office on social media – but are you following your local dairy farmer? You should.

By following farmers on Facebook, you can get to know the families who help deliver nutritious and delicious food to your table. Just like no two farms are exactly alike, their Facebook pages are unique, representing conventional and organic farms ranging from 20 cows to more than 20,000. Some include stories, behind the scenes videos, humor, answers to your questions, beautiful photography and even invitations to visit.

Here are ten Oregon dairy farmers you should be following on Facebook (in alphabetical order):

RELATED LINKS

Oregon’s Newest Creamery Invites You to the Farm

A new farm-to-table experience is coming soon, where you’ll be able to meet the cows that make the milk for your artisan cheese and watch skilled cheesemakers in action.

TMK Farm and Creamery is located about a half hour from Portland in Canby, Oregon. It is a small family farm that began 30 years ago when owner Todd Koch purchased his first Holstein cow. “It all started with a 4-H project that went too far,” he said. “I was supposed to sell that cow, but I kept her and the rest is history.”

By 1997, the milking herd had grown, so the Koch family built TMK Dairy. This year, they built a commercial creamery where Koch’s sister Shauna and brother-in-law Bert Garza began making farmstead cheeses.

As described on the farm’s website, the new state-of-the-art creamery on the dairy property “allows for an immersive experience for their guests that provides a transparent look at farmstead cheese-making, lets you meet the cows [and] explore the farm.”

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While the herd of 20 cows is relatively small by comparison to other Oregon dairies, like dairy farms of all sizes, TMK demonstrates great care and stewardship for their animals, natural resources, employees and their community.

The creamery is already operating, selling mostly to local stores and restaurants/wineries, with plans to open a boutique tasting room, store and patio on the site of the creamery where you can sample artisan cheese while watching the cheesemakers through large observation windows.

Currently, farm tours are offered any day of the week by appointment. You can check out more from TMK by visiting their Facebook page @TMKfarms, web page www.tmkfarms.com or by calling 503-705-2550.

For This Nurse, Dairy Farming Provides the Perfect Antidote

Jennifer-Evers_Wismer_s-Dairy

When she isn’t caring for her patients, she’s caring for her cows.

For Jennifer Evers, a critical care nurse at Tuality Community Hospital in Hillsboro, Oregon, spending her days off working on a dairy farm is the perfect antidote to a stressful work week. And it’s something she wouldn’t miss for the world.

“I really appreciate the farm as my outlet from nursing,” Evers said. “I really enjoy just going out there and relaxing, enjoying the environment, the peace, and just being with my family.”

Jennifer-Evers_farm-and-family-time Evers, who grew up on her family’s Wismer’s Dairy in Gaston, Oregon, married a fellow dairy farmer, Zack Evers, who now helps run his family’s operation, Ever May Farms in Forest Grove.

These days, Evers works three 12-hour shifts at the hospital each week, 4 to 8 hours a month at a nearby cardiologist’s office, and splits her time “off” between the two farms, pitching in where she’s most needed.

“I’m just a set of helping hands,” she said. “They’ll call me when they need a driver, or a milker, or someone to feed calves, or to move cows around. I’m just an eager helper, because it is not my everyday routine. I am refreshed and recharged, and it is a way for me to de-stress from my full-time job.”

For many young adults who were raised on a farm, it was never a doubt as to whether they would stay and work the family farm. For others, staying on the family farm was not their calling. Evers is sort of a hybrid.

“When I was in high school, my dad used to ask me why I wanted to leave him and leave the farm,” Evers remembered. “I told him [it was] so I could make a career for myself and because I wanted to help people in their worst of times and their best of times. And I still can’t think of anything else that I would rather do than nursing.”

jennifer-evers_critical-care-nurse It was when she was fresh out of college and still living on the family farm that Evers came to realize just how much farming meant to her.

“I really started to value my lifestyle and what I grew up with,” she said. “I could see how lucky I was compared to my co-workers. None of them had this outlet that I had. It was a place to go to be with family.”

During an intensive regimen of college courses, Evers continued to work the farm on most weekends and during college vacations. Her senior year, she started a two-year stint as a Dairy Princess Ambassador, advocating for the industry at events around the state and in classroom settings.

To this day, in fact, her fellow nurses call her the Dairy Princess.

“They tell all my patients, ‘You have the Dairy Princess taking care of you today,’” she shared.

Evers doesn’t mind the teasing and, in fact, uses it to advocate for the industry.

“I get very passionate when I talk with my patients and their families and staff about dairying,” she said. “My co-workers know I’m a farmer, and when they have questions, they come talk to me. About once a week we’re in a discussion in the middle of the nursing station, talking about a particular farming practice, or about how a farmer takes care of their land, about how they treat their cows if they are sick, and just kind of correcting misunderstandings that they may have from misinformation.”

Her interest in representing the dairy industry led her to join the Oregon Dairy Products Commission as one of its newest board members. Looking ahead, Evers said she has no plans to choose between her full-time profession and her passion for dairy, preferring to leave things as they are for the foreseeable future.

“For me, it is the best of both worlds, to be able to work thirty-six hours a week as a nurse, and spend four days a week on the dairies,” she said.

It might not be your normal weekend activity, but it’s one that works just fine for Jennifer Evers.

 

This story also appears on the DairyGood website.

Farming with Innovation and Heart Earns National Award for Rickreall Dairy

rickreall dairy_louies-portrait

A dedication to protecting the environment, maintaining good employee relations and preserving herd health has earned Louie Kazemier of Rickreall Dairy an Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability Award from the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy.

The award, now in its sixth year, is awarded for a dairy’s use of sustainable practices in areas of cow care, energy conservation, water conservation, nutrient management, and business and employee relations.

Rickreall is the first dairy from Oregon to win the award. It was one of only three such awards in the country this year, and the only one west of the Mississippi River.

Kazemier, who has managed Rickreall Dairy since 1991, summed up his commitment to sustainability as a constant effort “to do the right thing.”

“I believe that if we know a better way to do stuff and don’t do it, I don’t think we are honoring our purpose here in life,” he said.

His work on the dairy, more than defining him, he said is an extension of his philosophy on life.

Among reasons cited by the U.S. Dairy Innovation Center for Kazemier’s award are his philanthropic efforts to help others.

Kazemier travels regularly to Uganda to instruct dairy farmers, build housing and mentor young men. In Oregon, Kazemier built Camp Attitude, a camp for families with special-needs children.

In Rickreall, residents know him for his open-door policy, and the steps he takes to be a good neighbor.

“We are ultra-sensitive to the public,” Kazemier said. “We only irrigate certain fields, certain times of the day, because of wind direction and concerns with odor. And we have an open door policy, where anybody who wants to see the dairy can come in. We bring in a minimum of 2,000 school children a year at no cost to the schools.”

Rickreall-Dairy-signWhen it comes to the environmental improvements, Kazemier worked with Energy Trust of Oregon and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to upgrade his barn lighting and parlor laundry systems, steps that have reduced his energy use by hundreds of thousands of kilowatts per year.

Kazemier’s nutrient management plan involves applying only the amount of nutrients plants take up, so nutrients don’t leave the soil profile. He conducts water-quality tests in a nearby creek on a quarterly basis, and takes soils tests on the farm’s cropland on an annual basis, just to be sure.

Additionally, Kazemier provides neighboring farmer Scott Zeigler excess manure nutrients from Rickreall Dairy in exchange for feed, an arrangement that has proved beneficial to both parties.

Kazemier’s father-in-law, Gus Wybenga, a third-generation dairy farmer who expanded and redesigned Rickreall Dairy when he purchased it in 1990, designed it with water conservation in mind. Kazemier has refined the system to capture and conserve water, and ensure that tap water is recycled at least three times before being used for irrigation.

And Kazemier has arranged with a local food processor to take excess waste water off the processor’s hands, an arrangement that, again, benefits both parties.

When it comes to his 3,500 cows, Kazemier works closely with a nutritionist, a veterinarian and a herd manager to regulate and monitor herd health. And he uses computer software to track daily milk production and maintain health and treatment records.

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Rickreall Dairy meets most of its feed needs through double-cropping ryegrass silage and corn silage and on the dairy’s 1,100 acres of cropland. Kazemier supplements that with high-quality alfalfa hay, along with two byproducts from a local biofuel production plant, plus mineral supplements, beet pulp, cottonseed, hominy and corn grain, and the feed he gets from Zeigler Farms.

Kazemier uses composted manure solids for cow bedding, a practice that, in addition to providing a comfortable and sanitary bedding, also provides another beneficial use for dairy waste, and he has removed exterior walls to improve air circulation in the dairy’s five free-stall barns.

According to John Rosecrans, the dairy’s nutritionist, Rickreall Dairy cows consistently rank as an “A” herd, exhibiting high milk-production-to-feed rates, low cull rates and high pregnancy rates – all key elements in a dairy’s success.
“This is one of those dairies where you can walk through the cow pens and they don’t run from you, they follow you,” Rosecrans said. “That tells you a lot about a farm.”

Then there are the dairy’s twenty-five year-round employees, workers with an average a tenure of twenty years.

“People don’t quit very quickly here,” Kazemier said, “and I take a lot of pride in that, because agriculture is a tough business, and my guys, they know that I’ve got their back if they put one-hundred percent into this job.”

Indeed, cows, people, the community and the environment all seem to benefit from their association with Louie Kazemier and Rickreall Dairy.

 


 


RELATED LINKS

Oregon Dairy Farm Receives National Sustainability Award
NEWS RELEASE | June 29, 2017
Rickreall Dairy Lauded for Farming with Innovation and Heart

Dairy Farms and Businesses are Advancing Sustainable Practices, from Farm to Table
NEWS RELEASE | June 29, 2017
Winners announced for sixth annual U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards, progress report released

Louie Kazemier: Dairy Farmer, Humanitarian, Heart of Gold

Eight Questions for an Oregon Dairy Mom

Mary Chamberlain is a dairy farmer alongside her husband, Jason, and in-laws Warren and Lori, at Dairylain Farms in Vale, Oregon. Mary and Jason have three boys between the ages of one and seven, and she coaches a cross country running team at the local high school. We asked Mary eight questions about her life as a farmer, community volunteer, and a mother.

Why do you farm?

It’s a family tradition that goes back to our great-grandparents. I was raised on a dairy farm, and I married a dairy boy. It only made sense to work on his parent’s dairy and raise our kids to love dairy cows as much as we do. Raising calves, fostering them to cows, and giving them what they need to produce wonderful milk — that is the pretty basic description of what we do. But in reality it’s so much more.

When our first born arrived, I tried to stay home, but the farm needed an extra set of hands. I found myself pushing a stroller along as I fed calves, vaccinated cows, or checked heifers. Now on our third child, we start our mornings by heading to the barn to get milk to feed the calves, and end our day checking on the robots (we added robotic milkers last July). I’m very proud to have my boys working with us every day.

What’s life like for your kids on the farm?

They all have different levels of love for the farm and our way of life. My one-year-old just loves to watch the cows, and of course, sample their food.

Dairylain_2017_2048My four-year-old plays for hours with his farm toys in the sandbox. Every once in a while we catch bits of his make-believe land, where he is the ‘dad’ and he drives his loader and feeds the cows. We even get hints of a girl he likes as she makes an appearance in this pretend world to feed baby calves. When he isn’t in the sandbox, he loves to follow his dad around or ride along while I check on the heifers.

Our seven-year-old is starting to connect the dots that feeding animals and taking care of them is essential for them to not just survive but to helps us survive. When an animal is born, he is one of the first to let us know, and then help his dad move her to the barn. He helps with every task on the dairy. Some he hates (he thinks feeding calves is too boring) and others he loves (like picking out animals to train for fair).

And you’re also involved in your local schools?

Yes, I’m the local cross country head coach, and I substitute teach when I can (which is a bit rare these days with a one year old). Before my boys, I ran marathons and did triathlons all over the country. These days, it’s important for me to stay fit for my sanity and my health. Coaching running is great way to give back to the community and teach kids a way to deal with their own stress and worries.

With a master’s degree in dairy science and a love for running, I’m a bit of a quirky sub. I encourage getting outside to do work. I believe there is this huge connection to moving and learning that we don’t utilize in the classroom.

How important is nutrition to your family and your cows?

Dairylain Farms Chamberlain jerseyAs a three time mom in her 30s who still runs and bikes when she can, what’s in my food and my boys’ food is a concern. We all burn a lot of calories. I don’t want any food around that is just going to give a quick energy high and then leave me with a headache and cranky kids. Protein, carbohydrates, digestible and usable sugars, vitamins and minerals: that’s what I look for in all my food, and I try to balance the levels based on what we need and when we need it.

Good nutrition is also important to our cows. They are sort of like a pro-athlete; they will burnout if they don’t train and eat right. We feed the cows to increase milk supply naturally by giving them the correct amount of energy, protein, vitamins, and minerals (and plenty of water). We have to make sure their nutrition allows them to milk plenty but doesn’t deplete their bones and body.

Do you use antibiotics or hormones?

Out of 375 milking animals, we have only one that’s getting antibiotics right now. We use antibiotics on our dairy according to the label, and no antibiotics are allowed to enter the food supply. If she gets an antibiotic shot, her milk gets dumped.

I think there is a misconception that as dairy farmers we are constantly giving shots for sickness. Really we give very few. My one year old has received more doses of antibiotics for ear infections this winter than we gave the entire milking herd for the same four months. We all work hard to give our animals the best chance to fight colds and viruses on their own. When they can’t, we call the vet and get the medication they need.

As for hormones, cows don’t need additional hormones to make them give more milk, they have enough natural ones.

How do you take care of your cows and calves?

Dairylain calf feedingWe feed them, ensure they are safe, healthy and comfortable, and we provide clean homes and bedding. We give the calves blankets and warm water in the winter and cold water in the summer. Sometimes when my kids are sick, it’s hard to leave the house to work at the dairy. But the cows and calves need us too.

Cows are not humans, and sometimes they can hurt or neglect their calves. So to the calves, we are their foster parents. They depend on us to understand their language, like a wagging tail and licking tongue means ‘I’m good!’ — droopy eyes and not getting up right away means something doesn’t feel right.

How do you care for the environment?

Improving the land around us is a big priority. Since we grow our own crops for the cows to eat, there is always plenty of land that could use more nutrients. We sample the soil to decide where nutrients are needed and that’s where we spread manure from our pens and barns. It’s natural, organic fertilizer.

We ensure that the water used in our barns for cooling milk is recycled, so the cows can have plenty to drink. We are constantly looking for ways to reduce waste in all forms and recycle what we can. We use solar powered electric fences to keep the heifers in, and solar powered pumps to run our pivots to keep the fields watered and the grass growing.

Are there any parting thoughts that you’d like people to know?

Dairylain_2017_1972Just as none of us are perfect parents, there are no perfect farmers. But we honestly do the best we can do on this day, and hope for the same or better tomorrow. Every day is another chance to do even better. I trust what we do, what my neighbors do, and what our fellow friends and dairy farmers across the country do. We are proud of the quality foods that we help bring to your table and ours!

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Back to School: Literacy Project Helps Bridge Gap

Mary Swearingen and class

by Mary Swearingen, dairy nutrition consultant and Oregon Dairy Women member

Twenty years ago, I was in the third grade when my cousin (a county dairy princess at the time) visited my class to give a presentation — it was the same year milk became the Official State Beverage of Oregon. Twenty years later, I returned to read to three first grade classes at Mary Eyre Elementary School in Salem on April 12.

Mary Swearingen AITC Lit Project

The opportunity was made possible by a literacy project organized by Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom. In all, 72 students listened attentively and discussed where our dairy products come from, how dairy is part of a well-balanced diet, and everything our farmers do to care for their cows.

I work as a nutrition consultant for a feed company in Harrisburg, and because the literacy project activity focused on nutrition, I brought feed samples with me and explained that I help farmers create balanced diets for their cows.  Students got to see and smell alfalfa hay, flaked corn and almond hulls.

We talked about how cows are amazing at recycling byproducts, or leftovers from food production. I feel that it was important to volunteer for this year’s literacy project because the book answered the ever so popular question: does chocolate milk come from brown cows? A common misnomer among consumers, the book illustrates that all breeds of dairy cows produce white milk.

Mary Swearingen and cowIt was a really great opportunity to help bridge the gap between the farm and the classroom. After all, our milk and dairy products don’t just come from the dairy case. As a treat for all the students (and teachers) I brought 75 pints of chocolate milk with me, and the students all loved it.

At the end of the presentation, I opened the floor to questions and by far my favorite was from a concerned student asking, “in the middle of the day when the farmer is trying to sleep, doesn’t he get tired of hearing those cows moo all the time?”

I grew up as a city kid, but spent most of my school breaks working on my aunt and uncle’s dairy in Stayton picking berries and feeding calves. It didn’t take long to develop a passion and love of the farm, to see the hard work and effort it takes to dairy was quite literally a life-changing experience.

I went from one extreme to the other, wanting to be a teacher to Veterinary Medicine, and ultimately to animal nutrition.  I got involved in 4-H Livestock my freshman year of high school and participated in the Oregon Dairy Women’s Dairy Princess Program. These experiences have led me to see the importance of educating our youth and advocating for our farmers and ranchers.


The Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council proudly sponsors Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom’s 2017 Literacy Project. More information is available at oregonaitc.org/programs/literacy-project.

Every Day is Earth Day for Dairy Farmers

earth_dairy_farmers_care

Earth Day may be celebrated each year in late April, but for Oregon dairy farmers every day is Earth Day on the farm.

Most dairy farm families live and work where they farm. Each day they walk out their back door to take good care of their animals and land. It’s a responsibility they take seriously, and they’re proud of the work they do to bring nutritious food to our tables in a sustainable way.

Dairy farming has become advanced and innovative in Oregon and across the country.  For example, between 1944 and 2007, the dairy industry used 90 percent less land, consumed 63 percent less water and emitted 63 percent less carbon while quadrupling the milk supply. Today, the dairy industry is responsible for less than two percent of greenhouse gas emissions.

The dairy industry is also great at recycling. Almost 20 percent of everything dairy cows eat is an agricultural byproduct inedible by humans. One major byproduct of milking cows – manure – is a valuable resource. Farmers use manure as a natural fertilizer on their crops, and some farms use methane digesters to recycle manure into clean, renewable electricity. Several farms generate solar power, and reusing water many times over is standard practice on today’s dairy farms.

Sustainable diets with low environmental impacts contribute to food and nutrition security and to a healthy life for present and future generations. Dairy provides substantial nutritional value in a single affordable package, has continually reduced its environmental footprint, and has committed to additional improvements industry-wide.

So whether you’re enjoying dairy foods on Earth Day or any day, you can feel good about how they’re made.

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