Jon Patterson’s dairy milks 1,100 cows on a farm that’s been in the family since 1832.
My wife, Julie, and I are the sixth generation to live on our home farm, purchased in 1832. We are raising our kids, the seventh generation on our farm: Tad, 12; Wyatt, 9; and Reilley, 6.
The current dairy was built by my mother, Connie, after losing the 100-cow tie-stall to a fire in 1990. Mom started the dairy with a partner, 350 cows and a new facility.
I returned home from Alfred State College in 1994 and started working in crop production. In 2010, I took over as farm manager. After working in architectural design for four years, Julie went back to school in 1996 and received her bachelor’s degree in accounting. She now handles all the finances and human resource management for the dairy. I have two brothers and one sister who are not in the business.
We raise all our heifers ourselves, half on the main dairy and half at a facility seven miles away. We feed pasteurized waste milk to the calves along with a pasteurizer balancer. All heifer calves get 4 qt. of colostrum at birth and 2 qt. more within six hours.
Calves are housed and tethered in hutches to make feeding and bedding labor efficient. We breed heifers at 51" tall or about 12 months old. Pregnant heifers, after a 60-day check, are rotationally grazed on pasture in the summer months.
We do most all our own cropping. We crop 2,500 acres: 1,200 corn, 800 alfalfa, 200 grass, 200 wheat and 100 pasture. We do some custom harvesting of forages and manure pumping. We hire all baling, combining and some manure trucking.
We are looking into having someone mow and merge hay for chopping to keep equipment purchases low. The majority of our corn is strip-tilled or no-tilled. Wheat is no-tilled and hay fields are put in with conventional tillage to smooth out fields and enable efficient harvest.
In 2004, we started building a complete-mix anaerobic digester designed by RCM. We fired up the first gen-set [engine generator set] in October 2005. We take in food processing byproducts for the digester to boost gas production and increase revenue from the system to the farm.
In 2009, we installed our second gen-set, which brought production to 400 kw. All solids are removed for bedding before digestion and put under the cows daily. This has had a great impact on our ability to move manure in the summer months onto growing crops.
We appreciate the people who have worked with us over the years to help us get to where we are today. Also, we appreciate the people who work hard every day with us to be successful and treat our farm like it’s their own.
Whether it is Reilley helping look for heat cows or Tad and Wyatt mowing the lawn, this is a great place to raise a family, and we are thankful for the opportunity we have been provided.
|Patterson's Most Recent Prices
|Milk (3.73% bf, 3.18% prt)
||$1,200 to $1,700/head
|Alfalfa hay (milk cow)