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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Brother trio makes dairy thrive

Thursday, June 11, 2009

June is Dairy Month, so it would only be appropriate to talk with some of the men who are in the milking industry day-in and out. Fordyce Dairy is run by Dave, Dan and Matt Fordyce along with part-time helpers to ease the load during busy times.

The 116 -cow dairy has been slowly growing since the brothers switched to raising a three-way cross breed in 2002. Holstein, Swedish Red and Montbeliarde now make up the genetics of calves to cows that are taking over the brother's milk barn. Fordyce Dairy was one of the first to start the three-way cross which started at a dairy in California, and they are happy to have made the move.

Dave Fordyce hooks up one of the milk machines to a cow during the evening milking at Fordyce Dairy. The three Fordyce brothers, Dave, Matt and Dan, run the dairy together with regular part time helpers to milk their 116 cows. Photo by Sarah Gengler
"They are the only dairy breed bred for feed efficiency," Matt said. "They are meant to be a grazing cow. They thrive and survive basically."

The decision to start a three-way cross breeding program was made to gain the sustainability of cow that the cross produces.

"Traditionally the montbeliarde gives less milk, but we were willing to give up production to get to this point, but it didn't happen," he said. "We have gained 3,000 pounds per cow since switching to the three-way cross. We were at 20,000 pounds per cow, per year and now we are at 23,000 pounds."

Cows on the Fordyce Dairy farm are milked with an automatic milking machine which has sensors which shut the machine off when the cow is finished milking. This machine is just one of 14 in the milking parlor the brothers run. Photo by Sarah Gengler
It also helps that the Fordyce Dairy is now calving more often, which brings more cows into the milk barn - which in turn gives them a higher number of cows milking at their peak capability.

Fordyce Dairy milks with a 14 cow parlor that has also been a "work in progress." The brother's father, Eldon Fordyce, started the milking business in 1963, and put in the first part of their parlor, which held eight cows in 1974. The opportunity arose to expand in 2004, and the brothers added another six spaces at that time.

The technology used in the Fordyce parlor is advanced, showing every detail the brothers might need to know about the cow's health and pounds of milk produced at each milking. If a cow is under the weather, the system will flag a cow so that its health can be checked. The cows are milked twice a day , at 4:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. , and one of their cows is currently producing a total of 133 pounds (approximately 15.5 gallons) of milk a day.

The dairy is part of Dairy Farmers of America, and Anderson Erickson Dairy receives their raw milk, which is then processed into milk that can be drunk.

The brothers also have heifer calves that they raise to replenish and grow their current herd. There are approximately 100 heifer calves of all ages on the farm at this time. There is also a combination of 100 cows and heifers who will be having a calf between Aug. 15 and Dec. 31.

All of their work with the dairy still isn't enough profit to split three ways. The brothers also farm 500 acres of land, and Dan sells corn and soybean seed for extra income.

"People don't realize what we get for milk is just covering our feed costs and that's about it," said Dan Fordyce.

Rave, a tri-cross breed, is a prime example of the stock Fordyce Dairy is trying to raise and milk at their family dairy farm just northeast of Cherokee. Rave is a mixture of Holstein, Swedish Red and Montbeliarde breeds. Photo by Sarah Gengler
The Fordyce Dairy is located just northeast of Cherokee.

Rex, is a young calf who is still living in a calf hut on the Fordyce Dairy farm. Rex is a cross between Holstein, Swedish Red and Montbeliarde breeds. Photo by Sarah Gengler

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We really enjoyed the feature about the Fordyce Brothers and their dairy farm. We remember when their parents ran that farm, and how we once took a mother cat and her kittens there when they needed a good home. We had "adopted" her, but could not keep that many cats in town .... they were welcomed at the dairy farm, as a good natural form of mouse control. And of course there was plenty of milk for all of them. Thanks for bringing back some pleasant memories. It is nice to see the family dairy business is still there!

Jackie and Bill Stutz, Lake Havasu, AZ

-- Posted by jstutz on Thu, Jun 11, 2009, at 12:50 PM

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