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Greetings from the Golden State of California, and a Happy New Year to all of Dairy Today's readers.
I'm a partner in Medeiros and Son Dairy, nestled in the heart of the state's highest-producing dairy region, the Central Valley. We are right in the center of Kings County. The dairy farm is 10 minutes from the town of Hanford, approximately 45 minutes south of Fresno and 25 minutes west of Tulare. Our facility sits on a 1,200-acre parcel that encompasses a natural slough and 1,050 acres of farmland.
I have been in the dairy business since the day I came home from the hospital. I started working alongside my dad on the dairy where he was employed when I was just a kid, and I have loved it ever since.
In my short 22 years, I have experienced some of the best times and the worst times in dairying. But all along the way, I have learned that if you work hard and stay on the ball, you will be able to succeed.
I had the great opportunity to go into business with my mother and father, where we run a three-way partnership. It has proven to be invaluable to have everyone on board, with Mom running the books, Dad sticking to the cows and me spearheading government and regulatory compliance. I am also finishing up at Cal Poly State University, with a double major in dairy science and agribusiness management.
This month marks 16 years of being in business for ourselves. Over that time, we have had the opportunity to grow and expand. Our operation started off as a 64-cow, five-machine flat barn. It has since evolved into a 2,300-cow operation with a double-35 parallel pit, milking cows 3x per day.
We use recycled manure bedding in the freestall beds for 2,000 of our milking cows, with the remainder of the herd (milking, dry and replacements) in open drylots. We raise all of our own replacements from three months of age onward. The newborns are taken to an offsite calf ranch, where they are weaned and started on a grower total mixed ration.
On our farm's 1,050 acres, we produce about half of the wheat and corn silage that the cows consume in one year. We also farm about 80 acres of alfalfa, which supplies about 5% of our cow's rations.
Dairying in California is an adventure. With regional water quality boards and air pollution control districts monitoring every aspect of the dairy, we have to be on the ball to keep in compliance. Luckily, in the downturn, the implementation of regulation has been light. With the recent upturn in prices, however, I see a significant upturn in regulatory action coming in 2010.
We are experiencing a revival in mailbox prices. But with the equity that most dairy producers have spent, 2010 will not be a year of huge celebration but one of rebuilding and restructuring. I look forward to facing this new year with courage and an open mind.
|Medeiros' November Prices
|Milk (3.69% bf, 3.38% prt):