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.
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."
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.