Donald Van Hofwegen
Donald and Ingrid Van Hofwegen milk 2,700 Holsteins in Stanfield, Ariz.
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My wife, Ingrid, and I own D&I Holsteins. We are located about 25 miles west of Casa Grande, Ariz., in a small town called Stanfield.
There are several dairies in the area and thousands of acres of farm ground. Alfalfa, corn and cotton are the primary crops grown. We have been renting a 3,500-slot facility for four and a half years. The dairy sits on 320 acres with an additional section for wastewater irrigation.
I was born and raised on a dairy with my three brothers and two sisters. My parents did a great job teaching us how to be good stewards of God’s creation. I fed calves in grade school, milked in high school and fed cows during college. My wife and I have four children of our own, and we have tried to bring them up with that work ethic also.
I bought my first 10 cows when I was 20 and milked them with one of my brothers’ herds. After some years of growing the herd (and myself), I got married and went into partnership with my brother. After five years, he bought me out, and I bought my dad out. We were milking 1,000 cows on the home place.
A year later, we bought a 500-cow dairy and rented another facility. After five years, we had the opportunity to expand and bought another 1,100 cows and rented the facility we are on now.
We milk 2,700 cows today on a great facility with Saudi barns and Korral Kools (the summers are hot here). Our goal is to build our own facility in five years, the Lord willing.
We milk 3X in a double-35 parallel. We raise all of our own replacements. The newborns are raised to five months on-site and then moved 40 miles west to a family member’s dairy, where there’s room to finish them. They are brought back at about eight months pregnant.
We were using a full-timed AI program up until a year and a half ago, and getting very good results. With the downturn in the dairy economy, however, we were looking for ways to conserve cash flow, so we switched to tail striping and heat detection.
We buy all of our feed. Our silage, fresh alfalfa green chop and baled hay are grown by farmers within a 20-mile radius of the dairy.
I have 27 employees on this dairy. It has been a challenge at times, since I came from a dairy with far fewer. However, I believe it has made me a better manager.
The end of 2010 has seen better milk prices, although we foresee a dip in the first half of 2011. I am confident things will turn for the good, and with God’s grace we will see a strong second half of 2011.
|Van Hofwegen's November Prices
|Milk (3.53% bf, 3.3% prt):
$16.16 over quota
|Alfalfa hay (milk cow):