No Two Days are the Same on a Dairy Farm
140 years ago, my ancestors settled down and established what we know today as Horning Farms. This makes me proud to say that I am the sixth generation to work on the farm. Living on a dairy always makes for an interesting day. Most people think that it is a day in-day out operation and everything is about repeatability. But growing up on my family’s dairy farm has taught me that it is never that easy. Yes, there are somethings that do get done daily like milking, feeding, and cleaning pens. However, that is not all that gets done on the farm, there are a bunch of little things that may be overlooked if you are not familiar with what it takes to operate a dairy farm.
One of the most common things that I think most people don’t understand is that dairy farming is 365 days a year no matter the weather or if it is a holiday or not. On my farm, we will kick our day off at 3:45 in the morning by beginning the first milking shift. Around 6:00 the next shift of workers starts to feed the larger animals for the day with a tractor and mixing wagon. Finally, to finish up morning chores another shift will come in to feed all the calves. Most days chores will be wrapped up around 9:30 in the morning.
Between the end of finishing up morning chores and 4:00 P.M. is where all the variability is at. Some days could be spent sorting cows and grinding feed while others could be working on equipment and buildings. Also on our farm, we grow our own crops to feed our cows. This takes a significant amount of time to make sure our crops are healthy and that we will have enough feed for the year.
To wrap up the day our second shift of milking and feeding calves is at 4:00 in the afternoon. This schedule may sound very simple but there always seems to be a bump in the road somewhere along the way. For example, a piece of equipment may breakdown or we might have a new born calf. Either way I am very proud to say that I am a Michigan dairy farmer.
Mason Horning is a 2017 Michigan Dairy Ambassador. His passion for dairy comes from his family’s dairy farm in Manchester, Michigan. Currently, Mason is studying Crop and Soil Sciences and Agribusiness Management at Michigan State University. After graduating from MSU, Mason plans to return to the farm and become an owner/operator.