Originally published on Drink-Milk.com
Paul and Oliva Keener and their young son, Jack, are third generation dairy farmers in Jeromesville, Ohio. They milk 580 Holstein cows and farm 380 acres of crops.
What is it like raising a family on a dairy farm?
Olivia: I can’t imagine Jack having a different lifestyle than growing up on a dairy farm. I think a farm is the best place to raise children. He likes to go for walks in the stroller to see all the calves, and he likes to try and touch them if they’ll let him.
Paul: For Jack, the farm is almost like a big playground for him. He’ll be able to experience a lot of different things growing up that other kids won’t have the opportunity to experience. He’ll learn how to work hard, too, I’m sure, working with his dad.
What are the challenges of being dairy farmers?
Olivia: The biggest challenge is that it’s 24/7, and it’s really hard to make plans. Your plans don’t always happen as you thought they would. Paul’s on-call all the time, so wherever we are, we have to be willing to turn around and go home if something happens.
Paul: Dairy farming is not for everyone; it’s definitely a very challenging lifestyle. Cows are right up there at the top of your family. It goes family and then cows. You have to be there for them because no one else will.
How did you keep cow health and comfort in mind when building your barns?
Paul: The most important thing about running this farm is keeping the cows healthy. At the end of the day, if you take care of the cows, the cows will take care of us. When you’re building a barn for a cow, you try to design the optimal environment for that cow so she has the least amount of stress on her as possible. Every single detail is taken into consideration—anywhere from the height at which the cow is eating to pen size. We have a flush barn that cleans the alleys in the barn every four hours so cows are always living in a clean environment.
During the winter months, we’re able to close the curtains on the barn so we can regulate the temperature. We have fans and misters when it’s warmer out to cool the cows down. We try to make everything cow-optimal.
Why should moms trust that milk is safe for their kids to drink?
Olivia: I trust that the milk that I buy in the grocery store is totally safe and healthy for my kids and my family because I see it being produced every day. I’m out in the barn; taking walks with Jack. I trust that it’s safe and healthy.
HEAR FROM THE FARMER:
Hear Ohio dairy farmer Paul Keener share why his family’s support is important to his success.