It’s not unusual for dairy farmers to diversify their operations or discover methods to create new revenue streams.
Some farmers make cheese or ice cream, bottle milk or bag composted manure on their farms. Others supply farm excursions or add an extra livestock enterprise to the combination.
However the two japanese U.S. dairy farmers who offered an academic workshop on direct marketing on the latest Skilled Dairy Producers of Wisconsin Enterprise Convention discovered different methods to diversify their operations. And once they began their different enterprises, they jumped in with each toes.
A number of makes use of for manure
The Freund household, from East Canaan, Conn., was one of many first dairy farm households within the nation to construct a manure digester on their farm. They not solely seize biogas from the manure produced by their cows, however additionally they flip the manure solids into biodegradable plant pots they name CowPots.
COMPOSTED MANURE: The CowPots produced on the Freund farm are constructed from 100% composted cow manure.
Amanda Freund, a third-generation farmer at Freund’s Farm, Inc., instructed PDPW Enterprise Convention contributors that her father, Matthew Freund, noticed a chance to do one thing artistic and commenced experimenting with making plant pots out of composted manure within the late Nineties.
“Initially [the CowPot] was designed as a better way for us to handle our manure and to use in our tomato greenhouse, not as a revenue stream,” Freund says. “It kind of evolved slowly – we didn’t really know if it would take off. When you put this pot in the ground, you’re adding value to the soil.”
The CowPots enable for unrestricted root penetration and assist cut back transplant shock. Because the pots decompose, the manure they’re constructed from enriches the soil.
ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY: Plant roots make their method by means of the biodegradable CowPots. They’re a great way to get vegetation began in a house or greenhouse.
The CowPot marketing effort was kicked up a notch in 2007 when Mike Rowe featured the merchandise on his tv present “Dirty Jobs.”
“That was what basically put us on the map,” Freund says.
As they gained market development and product consciousness, they moved their operation out of a farm store and right into a stand-alone facility on the farm. The brand new facility options automation and two industrial-sized ovens.
Freund says their marketing efforts have developed an ideal deal over time.
“As dairy farmers, we never had to be responsible for marketing our end product,” she says. “The milk truck shows up every day and leaves with our milk — that was as much involvement as we had with marketing our end product. So, building a brand has been a huge learning curve. That has been the most complicated and challenging part of this whole initiative.”
For these fascinated by direct marketing a product from their farm, Freund suggests searching for out state and federal grants to assist kickstart the hassle.
“You have to be persistent,” she says. “Don’t let being declined a couple times hold you back from what you’re trying to pursue.”
The Freunds lately celebrated 5 years of their modernized free-stall barn that features 5 robotic milkers.
Manure from the free-stall barn is transferred to the digester, the place the liquids are separated and transported by way of dragline to their farm fields. The solids are composted and used for the cows’ bedding in addition to to fabricate the CowPots.
Plethora of pumpkins
Walt Gladstone, proprietor of Newmont Farm in Bradford, Vt., began dairy farming together with his spouse, Margaret, in 1988. They’ve been joined of their operation by two of their sons, Will and Matt.
Through the years the Gladstone household expanded from 120 cows to 400 and lately to 1,600 cows. They developed a wholesale pumpkin enterprise on the aspect that has considerably taken on a lifetime of its personal.
WHOLESALE PUMPKIN BUSINESS: Walt Gladstone vegetation about 200 acres of jack-o’-lantern pumpkins annually on his household’s dairy farm.
They plant about 200 acres of jack-o’-lantern pumpkins annually, primarily for decorative and ornamental use. They promote the pumpkins at farm stands and thru giant supermarkets and large field shops.
Their plantings yield 150 to 170 semi-trailer a great deal of pumpkins annually.
The Gladstones keep a detailed relationship with different pumpkin growers who would possibly come up brief late within the season and work onerous to take care of a various market make-up.
“Quality is critical in all of the markets we sell into,” Gladstone instructed the PDPW viewers. “Our reputation has helped us gain market share. We want to continue to increase our market share but not to the point where we grow so fast, we can’t maintain our quality.”
Whereas his sons handle their 1,600-cow dairy, Walt is within the subject with the pumpkins for 60 days every fall.
GROUP EFFORT: When it’s pumpkin time at Newmont Farm, it’s all-hands-on-deck for harvesting and marketing.
“We’re hands-on – when you get too far removed from it, you can get in trouble,” he says. “When the pumpkin season arrives, that’s my baby. I’m in charge of the planting, spraying and marketing. I never take next year for granted, but we have had a real good roll.”
Stroll earlier than you run
Gladstone’s recommendation to dairy farmers who would possibly wish to strive another enterprise is to verify the dairy farm is working easily earlier than taking over one thing else.
“You want to make sure the dairy farm is in good shape so when you’re away it will have enough management to take care of itself,” he says. “Actually attempt to do your homework on what you’re promoting and attempt to be pretty much as good at it as you may be.
“And don’t be afraid that you’ll make mistakes. You have to take ownership of (the enterprise) and try to gain the trust of the people you are selling to.”
Massey lives close to Barneveld, Wis.