Four Brothers

January 15, 2009 06:00 PM

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Kevin Phillips
Waynesboro, Va.
North Point Farm is a corporation, owned by four brothers: Wilmer, Daniel, Winston and myself. We started in 1991, taking over from our dad when he retired.

At that time, we were milking approximately 125 cows in a double-8 herringbone parlor. We are located in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Wilmer and myself are full-time employees; Daniel and Winston have jobs in town and are still actively involved in the farm. We are the fourth generation on the farm and the second generation to be in the dairy business.

I'm the oldest. I graduated from high school in 1976 and worked with my dad from the time I was old enough to walk. My wife and I have three children, two of whom are married and live off the farm; the youngest is a freshman in college. We have one granddaughter. My wife works full-time at a local college.

Today the operation consists of 350 milk cows, 375 heifers and 200 beef cows. Cows are milked in a double-12 parallel parlor, which was built in 1996. Computerized milkers were added in 2007. The cows are milked 3X; our RHA is 25,000 lb.

The cows are housed in a four-row freestall barn built in 2002, with mattresses and automatic alley scrapers.

Our farm consists of about 2,000 acres--60% owned and 40% rented. Crops include 700 acres of corn, 350 acres of soybeans, 300 acres of barley, 150 acres of alfalfa and the rest is pasture.

Milking cow ration consists of corn silage, alfalfa haylage, earlage, ground shell corn, ground barley and roasted soybeans (soybean mill and mineral mix, which is purchased). We feed our dry cows corn silage, barley silage and ground grain (dry cow protein mineral pre-mix).

Heifers weighing 500 lb. and up are fed corn silage, barley silage and ground grain (heifer protein mineral pre-mix) and are on pasture when in season. Baby calves are fed whole milk; calves up to 500 lb. are fed grain and hay (mixture of orchard grass and alfalfa).

We have six full-time employees and one part-time.

We live in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. As with many farmers, environmental issues and urban development are always a challenge. Seems that you have to have a permit for anything you want to do. We have had three dry years, so our big surplus of feed has really dwindled.

We start 2009 with mixed emotions. We hope by midsummer to start milking cows on a second farm. With the way future prices look, management will have to be on its "A” game. But we are very optimistic that we will continue to be profitable--and have fun farming at the same time.

Phillips' November Prices  
Milk (3.4% bf, 3.0% prt): $18.26cwt. (gross)
Cull cows: $45/cwt.
Springing heifers: $2,000/head
Alfalfa hay: $200/ton
Cottonseed: $230/ton
Ground corn:  $175/ton
Soybean meal (48%): $305/ton

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