Larson is a third-generation dairy producer in southern Florida, milking 4,200 cows.
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I am a manager/stockholder for Larson Dairy Inc. Okeechobee is the southernmost point at which milk is produced in Florida.
My grandfather started our dairy business in 1947. We milk 4,200 cows in two separate freestall facilities with double-32 parallel parlors. The facilities share commodity facilities and young stock operations. We raise our own heifer replacements and raise steers to be sold at around 350 lb.
We milk mostly Holstein cows with some Holstein and Jersey crossbreds. We feed a total mixed ration (TMR) to milk cows, dry cows and heifers. Corn silage and citrus pulp make up a large portion of our TMR. We grow all of our own haylage and purchase 40,000 to 50,000 tons of corn silage from vegetable growers in Pahokee, Fla. This corn is mostly grown on the soil known as muck that surrounds the southern portions of Lake Okeechobee.
Larson Dairy has 55 full-time employees, and many of them live on the farm.
I graduated from the University of Florida in December 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in dairy science. Upon graduation, I worked at Aurora Dairies in Branford, Fla., managing a 2,000-cow operation. This experience added to my university training to prepare me to return to Larson Dairy in January 2003.