Ivy Lakes Dairy
Family Members: Austin and Abbey Copenhaver; Garrett and Libby Eiholzer; and Clayton and Katie Wood.
Number of Milking Cows: 750
"You're not only responsible for the cows and land, but also to all the families and local business that are the heart of running the farm."- Abbey Copenhaver
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT DAIRY FARMING?
You have to really want to farm and know why you're farming. I love farming because even during tough times it's reassuring to know that your own [family] and other families on the farm are dedicated to the time and labor that a farm requires. You're not only responsible for the cows and land, but also to all the families and local business that are the heart of running the farm.
HOW DO YOU ENSURE YOUR COWS STAY COMFORTABLE?
Consistency and daily care. Cows are creatures of habit, meaning they're more comfortable and relaxed when they know what to expect. We feed and care for the cows and calves, as well as milk the cows at the same times every day. Daily care allows us to adapt care as needed, whether its adding straw to calves’ pens in the winter, adjusting cows’ forages or scheduling cows for a hoof trim or health check-up. These approaches allow us to provide individual animals with care while also caring for a whole herd.
WHAT MAKES YOU GOOD STEWARDS OF THE LAND?
As a farmer, taking care of land and cows is a no-brainer. Cows need high quality forage and diets to stay healthy and for quality milk production. Farmers can't provide high quality forages year after year unless fields are well cared for. We spread manure to replenish soil nutrients, use mapping to plant our fields and optimize crop production while preserving soil health. In addition, each field is analyzed for water content, soil composition and topography so that we can plant and work with the land accordingly. This could mean laying tile to drain the fields of excess water, using no-till practices, strip cropping, or cover cropping to decrease top soil erosion, etc.
WHAT DO YOU WANT EVERYONE TO KNOW ABOUT YOU, THE DAIRY FARMER?
Our farm's mission is "Continuing the tradition of caring for cows, land and people." We care for our animals and employees daily. For example, we work closely with our vet, nutritionist and other ag-services to provide proactive herd care to have healthy animals and illness prevention. Including vaccine protocols, diet and forage analysis, ventilation inspections, milking routines, etc. We can't provide our cows with this high level of care without help from our awesome employees. It's important that our employees feel valued for their hard work, whether it's daily feedback and affirmation, appreciation meals, or a token of gratitude. The cows, employees and farm owners make up our "farm family," so it's very important that every family member is cared for and appreciated!
Questions answered by Abbey Copenhaver.