New Mexico Perspective

January 7, 2013 09:10 PM

Art Schaap

Art Schaap


Clovis and Portales, N.M.

The Schaaps manage four dairies, including an organic operation, and milk 5,500 cows. They’re also partners in a cheese factory.





The first decision you need to make in New Mexico is whether you want red chili or green chili on your food, which is also the official "State Question."

My wife, Renee, and I have three children: Ryan, 24; Jennifer, 21; and Amanda, 18. I am a third-generation farmer. My grandfather, Ids, migrated from Friesland of the Netherlands in the 1940s. After they imposed a 100% tax after the war, he decided America was the destination where dairy farming would thrive, and he chose California.

My father, Andy, moved to New Mexico in 1977. He felt New Mexico was the place to be with his four boys and one daughter. Today, we all have our own businesses and have put our roots in eastern New Mexico and West Texas.

Renee and I operate four dairy farms in the Clovis and Portales area within 10 miles of the Texas border. We milk a total of 5,500 cows consisting of Holsteins and Holstein-Jersey crosses.

All of our replacement heifers are raised on one farm from day-old until they are matured and ready for breeding. These heifers are then brought back to their original farms. We also farm on irrigated farmland around the dairies and in West Texas.

With four dairies to manage, we have a manager on duty at each dairy. We meet with these managers every month to check up on the key performance indicator stats of the dairies’ progress. We keep the same protocol for each dairy when it comes to feed ration, medicine program and supplies.

We track milk production and reproduction conception rates and discuss what we can do better on all topics. When issues arise, we talk together to see our best options to fix said problems.

One of the four dairies is certified organic, where we market our milk through the Organic Valley cooperative. This dairy raises transition heifers to become organic certified. All heifers raised organic are grazed on local ranches. Eastern New Mexico and West Texas provide vast open ranges of land conducive to our organic operation.

We have hired a person to take charge of the purchase orders, which can be thrown around very easily as well as be abused. He just so happens to be my son, Ryan. He is in charge of making sure that when people ask for a purchase order, it is within reason and it doesn’t hurt the budget. He is also in charge of ordering and delivering all medicine that is used on the farms.

Along with our dairy operations, we are in partnership with a local cheese operation, Tucumcari Mountain Cheese Factory. We send them all their milk. They are making feta cheese, which is in high demand from consumers such as restaurants and food establishments. Other specialty cheeses include Green Chili Jack and Cheddar cheese.

Being involved with Tucumcari Mountain Cheese Factory has opened my eyes to many processing issues. The main issue that both dairy farmers and processers agree on is that they both want milk price stability.


Schaap's Most Recent Prices  
Milk (3.67% bf, 3.2% prt) $20.25/cwt.
Cull cows $67 to $72/cwt.
Springing heifers $1,300 to $1,500/head
Alfalfa hay (milk cow) $295 to $310/ton
Rolled milo $290/ton
Cottonseed $350/ton
Canola meal $371/ton



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