As a farmer-led community, our 900 dairy farm families are at the heart of what we do. Spanning from Pennsylvania to South Carolina, each farm is unique. Some have been passed down through several generations while others are just breaking ground. Some remain founded in hard-earned traditions while others welcome the opportunities of what’s to come. Some specialize in delivering by the glass while others share the goodness inside a cone. Large or small, young or old, there is one thing each of our farm-families has in common – a shared passion for providing safe and wholesome dairy goodness that hasn’t wavered for nearly 100 years.
We are proud to introduce you to our farmers and celebrate their passions and stories with you.
The Kent Family
Winding River Farm - Weyers Cave, Virginia
Wes Kent, who is a first-generation dairy farmer, started his farm, Winding River Farms, in 2000. He runs a diversified operation of 110 dairy cows that are milked by Lely robotic milkers, plus he has two poultry houses and raises about 100,000 turkeys each year, and an Angus cow-calf herd along with a small feedlot. Wes farms 650 acres of owned and rented ground of corn, alfalfa and hay.
“The robotic milkers allow us to have a very stress-free dairy herd and the cows are able to get milked on their own terms and have their own schedule,” said Wes. The decision to install robots three years ago was easy according to Wes. Prior to the robots, they were milking in a 40-year old parlor.
Wes and his employees, Annie Cekada and Rob Abbot, all make animal care a top priority on the farm. “I’m lucky enough to have the best employees I’ve had in 18 years right now.”
Annie is the herdsperson and she manages herd health and breeding, calf feeding and robot maintenance and record keeping. Rob feeds and manages the older heifers and takes care of the poultry operation. Wes, Annie and Rob all work together to complete the field work.
On the dairy, cows are housed in a composted bedded pack barn. “I like the bedded pack for cow comfort reasons, the cows have more freedom and comfort where they lay down,” said Wes.
The dairy cattle housing is kept well-bedded year-round. “I’m a stickler on bedding; it’s a huge expense, but worth it. I do not like having a dirty calf pen or dry cow barn,” Wes said.
Wes’ farm is in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, and caring for the land and water is very important. The farm has an enhanced nutrient management plan, and Wes uses mostly no-till and plants for cover crops.
Wes and his team’s dedication to the farm is evident in how well the farm is cared kept. Winding River was awarded the Maryland & Virginia’s 2018 Producer of the Year award in the Federal Order 5 & 7 category, an honor given to only two members each year.
“Ever since I was little, I’ve always wanted to farm,” said Wes. From routinely shipping quality milk, to focusing on cow care and environmental stewardship, Wes has found the perfect occupation.
The Phillips Family
North Point Farm, Waynesboro, Virginia
The Phillips Family operate North Point Farm, which consists of three dairies, in Waynesboro, Virginia.
Today four generations are involved in the farm, which has been owned by the family since the 1800s. The Phillips have milked cows for 75 years and have shipped milk to Maryland & Virginia for 55 of those years.
Kevin Phillips along with his three brothers Daniel, Wilmer, Winston own the farm. Kevin’s niece cares for the calves and his nephew oversees the cow feeding, his son manages the crops and helps feed. “I’m proud that it’s still one family running the farm and we are lucky to have multiple working here together,” said Kevin Phillips.
Caring for the environment is critical to ensuring the farm’s future, so the Phillips have a long history of implementing sustainable practices. Since the late 1960s, they have used no-till farming. They closely follow their nutrient management plan and have fenced off most streams.
North Point milks a total of 1,200 cows and farms 3,500 acres. To keep the herd management consistent, they have one manager to oversee all three farms. And the milking protocol is the exact same for all three operations to ensure milk quality.
“A cow has no clue what the price of milk is, so if you take care of her, she’ll take care of you so make her happy at all times,” said Kevin.
The Phillips family received Maryland & Virginia’s 2018 Producer of the Year Finalist award in the Federal Orders 5 & 7 category.
The Detwiler Family
Maple Kroft Farm, Altoona, Pennsylvania
Brian and Rachel have been farming in partnership with Rachel’s parents, Joe and Veve McCutcheon, at Maple Kroft Farm since 2004. They milk 200 cows, raise 140 replacements and farm 180 acres on their Altoona, Pennsylvania farm. Brian and Rachel are blessed to have four sons, A.J., Aiden, Andrew and Abram.
On the farm, Brian wears many hats; he’s the herd manager, crop manager and employee manager, plus he milks and feeds the cows. Rachel also milks, and she handles the office side of the farm enterprise, from payroll and taxes to accounting and banking. The Detwilers are also active in the Blair County and Pennsylvania Farm Bureau and the Grace Baptist Church of Tyrone.
Every year the Detwilers strive to connect with their local community, and show how dairy farmers work to provide a wholesome product. “We have church picnics at our farm and invite our sons’ football teams out for hayrides,” said Rachel. In the fall they open their farm gates to host 75 three-year-old preschoolers for a tour.
“Once you start opening your farm to the public, you end up building good relationships with non-ag people,” she said. “I’ve realized visitors are really excited about the farm and want to come back again, especially the kids,” Rachel added.
Brian and Rachel Detwiler are active in Maryland & Virginia’s leadership programs. Brian serves on Maryland & Virginia’s Leadership Council. And the Detwilers earned the Outstanding Young Cooperators title in 2018 where they represented Maryland & Virginia at national dairy meetings.
The Detwilers were also featured in a Lactaid Brand Product commercial. From mentioning their farm history to why they enjoy milking and caring for cows, the commercial emphasizes a farmer’s dedication to their farm and family. Visit Lactaid’s Facebook page to view the commercial.
The Herbst Family
Misty Meadow Farm, Smithsburg, Maryland
Misty Meadow Farm is owned by David and Betsy Herbst and their family. Their daughter Jeni and her husband Justin Malott, along with their son Andrew Herbst and his wife Jacklyn, and their daughter Kimberly West, work together on the farm where they milk 150 cows and raise crops on their 800 acres. Jeni and Andrew are working together to form an LLC to take over the farm from their parents. The family also operates Misty Meadow Farm Creamery where they market their own milk, ice cream, eggs and meat. David and Betsy’s grandchildren are the fifth generation on their farm.
Caring for the animals is a team effort at Misty Meadow Farm, and each family member plays an integral role. Jeni oversees animal care, the overall herd health program and milking. Justin and Andrew share the responsibility of feeding and bedding the animals and oversee the crops. Kimberly works at the creamery and occasionally helps with milking.
“We take care of our animals because we love what we do. We feel honored to receive this award, and we’re grateful to be recognized for what we do every day,” Jeni said.
Animal care has always been important at Misty Meadow, but according to Jeni, they began to hone-in on animal care over the past few years. “We pay close attention to what the cows are telling us,” said Jeni. “Several years ago, we sold 10 cows to keep from getting overcrowded. Even though we had fewer cows, we had more milk in the bulk tank. That’s when we realized the cows will let us know when they are comfortable.”
All animals at Misty Meadow receive top-notch care from birth. “We want to give our calves the best possible start in life,” Jeni said. Newborn calves are placed in an incubator after birth, then have their navels dipped, are given a First Defense pill and one gallon of colostrum. All colostrum is tested to ensure its quality and colostrum replacer is given to calves who need it. Calves are raised in individual pens in a greenhouse and are given fresh bedding every day.
Once calves are weaned, they are moved to group housing and heifers nine months of age and older are housed in bedded back barns with access to pasture. Heifer barns are bedded twice a week to ensure the animals stay clean and dry.
Milk cows are housed in a freestall barn and stalls are regularly groomed and bedded to keep the animals clean. Rubber mats are in place along the feedbunks to provide added cushion to the cows when they eat. With animal care at the forefront of dairy customers and consumers, Misty Meadow works closely with their herd veterinarian to monitor the herd health and maintain a valid Veterinary Client Patient Relationship, a requirement as part of the Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM)Animal Care Program. Misty Meadow also has written standard operating producers for their milking, calf care and other animal-care related protocols.
The Herbst and Malotts also enjoy opening up their farm for tours. They often host local school groups and community organizations to help educate the public about dairy farming. Misty Meadow received the 2019 Dairying for Tomorrow Award given by the American Dairy Association Northeast. The Dairying for Tomorrow award recognizes local dairy farmers who implement on-farm practices that will sustain the dairy industry now and into the future. The awards are given in three categories: animal care, community and consumer outreach, and environmental stewardship. Misty Meadow Farm received the award for its exceptional animal care practices.
“We always look at ways to improve and to do what is best for our animals to ensure our farm’s longevity in the dairy industry,” Jeni said.
“We are most thankful that we are able to raise our children on the farm,” Jeni said. “We enjoy working outside and working with our children and teaching them how to care for another life. There’s nothing more rewarding than that.” she added.