Originally published on Drink-Milk.com
Ack-Lee Holstein farm, located in Logan County, is home to 120 registered Holstein cows and 3,000 acres of crops which are cared for by Jay Ackley, a fourth generation dairy farmer and wife Kristy and family. The Ackleys are proud of the steps they take to ensure their cows have the best care possible all year-round.
What’s the history of your dairy?
Jay: I started farming in 1988 with my father on our fourth generation farm. We started with 50 cows and between 800 and 900 acres. Now we care for approximately 110 cows and farm 2,800 acres, including hay, wheat, corn and soybeans.
We have one full-time herdsman and a couple of part-time and seasonal helpers that assist with the day-to-day work. Our two sons also help us on the farm when they’re not involved in school activities.
What skills do you need to be a dairy farmer?
Kristy: You have to wear a lot of different hats as a dairy farmer. You have to be knowledgeable of veterinary care and keep up with breeding practices. You have to understand nutrition and time management. Most importantly, you have to be a caretaker.
I always say that Jay and I were blessed with two sons and a hundred girls that we take care of. We take care of them to the best of our ability.
This means we make sure that they’re comfortable. If we’re hot then we know that they’re hot, so we try to keep them as cool as possible in the summer. In the winter, we don’t want to be out in the weather so we try to keep them out of the weather. They sleep on mattresses that are soft and we give them a bed of straw. They’re our babies.
What is the biggest change you’ve seen since you began farming?
Economics have changed the most. Milk prices have been lower more recently than they have in the past. It really forces you to look for ways to become more efficient to manage the economics of the farm. You’ve always had to work hard, but now you have to work smarter and harder.
HEAR FROM THE FARMER:
Listen to Kristy Ackley explain how her cows stay cool in the summer heat.