(RESTON, Va., July 29, 2019) – Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative showcased a few of Washington County, Maryland’s dairy best spots as part of its 19th Annual Young Cooperator (YCs) Summer Break late last week. More than 20 farm families traveled from five states to tour four dairy farms and Trans Ova Genetics Thursday, July 25 and Friday, July 26.
Jeni and Justin Malott of Misty Meadow Farm in Smithsburg, Maryland, kicked off the event with an on-farm welcome dinner and farm tour. The farm encompasses 800 acres, and the family milks 150 cows and raises their own replacements. “It’s really exciting to welcome our co-op family to our farm and gratifying for us to return the hospitality we’ve experienced at other YC events,” Jeni said. “We always come back from summer break with new ideas, and I hope we can send others home with some inspiration from our farm.”
Attendees saw the latest in technology at Shenandoah Jerseys in Boonsboro, Maryland, owned and operated by Janet Stiles and her daughter, Jessica, and son-in-law, JR Hess. Last summer the family put in a robotic feed pusher, an automatic calf feeder and an activity monitoring system for the cows. Last fall they added a DeLaval robotic milking system to milk their 102 registered Jerseys. “Moving to robotics is something I’ve often considered. It’s nice to get this opportunity to see a farm that just made the transition. Being able to talk to Janet, Jess and JR about their experience has been eye-opening,” said Rachel Detwiler of Altoona, Pennsylvania.
Continuing the technology tour, the group made a stop at Trans Ova Genetics also in Boonsboro, Maryland. Trans Ova Genetics is a reproductive technology company, providing expertise to dairy farmers and other cattle breeders. Attendees met with Trans Ova representatives and learned how the company handles embryo transfers, in vitro fertilizations, sexed semen and other programs. YCs were able to tour the lab and see the barns where the cattle are housed.
After lunch, the YCs explored Linden Hall Farm and Orchard in Hagerstown, Maryland. Owned by Mike and Christine Forsythe, the farm is a 60-cow dairy farm and 7-acre orchard of 600 peach and apple trees. The group explored the dairy barn and made a stop at the orchard market to stock up on fresh produce.
The tour ended with a dinner and tour at Long Delite Farm in Williamsport, Maryland. Owners Brooks and Katie Long recently expanded their 60-cow grazing dairy to include on-farm processing and a farm market store called Deliteful Dairy. The Longs sell milk, butter, cheese that are all made on-site, as well as their own meat and eggs. “We’ve been working on Deliteful Dairy for several years, and we’re thrilled we can finally open our gates to our fellow farm families,” said Brooks.
“Our kids look forward to the YC Summer Break every year. They love seeing other farms and especially all the friends they’ve made with other farm kids over the years,” said Caci Nance of South Carolina. “We enjoy seeing the different farms, and then chatting about what we’ve just toured with YCs back on the bus. There’s this great exchange of ideas and differing perspectives that motivates you to go back home and tackle another year of dairy farming.”
“The Young Cooperator Program is centered on professional development. Providing our young members with the knowledge and inspiration to improve and better their individual farms, is exactly what our Summer Break event delivered,” said Lindsay Reames, Director of Sustainability and External Relations.
Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative’s YC program provides professional development opportunities for members ages 18-40. The cooperative holds two annual YC events, a formal leadership conference each winter and a family focused summer event. The program provides a venue for YCs to interact with co-op leadership, connect with their peers, share triumphs and lessons learned, and to return home inspired and recharged. To learn more about the cooperative’s YC Program or membership programs in general visit www.mdvamilk.com.
Contact: Daniela Roland