Golden State Greetings

11:40AM Jan 10, 2012
( )

CharlieDeGrootCharles DeGroot

Fresno, Calif.

DeGroot is a third-generation California dairy producer whose San Joaquin Valley operation milks 2,400 cows.



I am a third-generation dairy farmer, married with four children (ages 7,5, 3 and 1). We are a family-owned and -operated business.

My grandfather started dairying in Southern California in 1950. In 1973, my father and grandfather made the move to Fresno to expand their business. They purchased about 2,000 acres and two existing dairies with capacity to milk 1,800 cows.

This is where I was born and raised. In 1999, while I was attending Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, we began construction on a new dairy facility on our existing property to replace the two older facilities.

I graduated in 2001 and returned to the family dairy operation. For a brief time, we were three generations active on the operation until my grandfather passed away in 2003. At that time, my dad filled in Grandpa’s shoes, and I began managing the dairy’s day-to-day operations.

We milk 2,400 cows two times per day. We also farm 2,000 acres and grow our own alfalfa hay, corn silage and winter forage. My brother joined the operation after Grandpa passed away, and he manages all farming operations as well as the heifer program.

Our farming operation produces all of the roughage feed needs for our herd. We have 36 full-time employees altogether with the dairy and farm. We are members of California Dairies Inc. (CDI). All milk produced at our dairy is processed and marketed through CDI.

Our herd is about 2,800 head milking and dry, and 2,800 birth to springers. Our calves are sent out to a calf ranch for four months and then return to the dairy.

We have two double-20 herringbone pits under one roof. We use AI on all cows and heifers, with cleanup bulls for about 10% of the breedings. We have freestall housing on the dairy for 95% of the milking herd. All dry cows and heifers are in open lots with shades. All AI work is done in-house, and we have used Select Sires genetics for more than 30 years. Our tank average is 75 lb. per cow, and our dairy’s cost of production is currently $16.20 per cwt.

In 2003, I completed the Dairy Leaders Program through Western United Dairymen. It was a one-year program that covered all aspects of dairying, from milk pooling and pricing to politics. We had the opportunity to visit our state’s capital as well as our nation’s capital and speak with key leaders who influence dairy policy.

I also serve locally on the Fresno County Dairy Herd Improvement Association board of directors. Fresno DHIA is responsible for milk sampling and testing for more than 100,000 cows in our area. I recently completed a leadership course through CDI that further deepened my knowledge of our co-op and the dairy industry. I hope to continue to be involved in our industry as we move forward.

DeGroot's Most Recent Prices  
Milk (3.67% bf, 3.4% prt) $18.50/cwt. quota and over base blend
Cull cows $65/cwt.
Springing heifers $1,700/head (top end)
Alfalfa hay (milk cow) $275-$300/ton
Corn (rolled) $267/ton
Canola $279/ton
Cottonseed $400/ton
Bull calves $110/head