View from Oregon

January 16, 2009 05:15 AM

*Extended comments highlighted in blue.

By Louie Kazemier, Rickreall, Ore.

Louie Kazemier
Rickreall, Ore.

Hello from the Pacific Northwest. I am in a partnership on Rickreall Dairy with my father-in-law, Gus Wybenga. We moved here from Chino, Calif., in 1989 and began building our facilities in May 1989. I moved here with my family in 1990. It's hard to believe that we have been here for almost 20 years already. I have been married to my wife, Lori, for 26 years and have four kids, two son-in-laws and a granddaughter.

We milk about 1,550 Holsteins, with an RHA of 29,000 lb. We milk 3X in the original double-23 parallel, so we are full to capacity. It is the limiting factor to our growth. We would like to build an 80-stall rotary in 2009 to expand the herd.

All heifers are raised on the property, and all animals are in freestalls. We just finished building a new freestall barn that will house the dry cows and older heifers. This will relieve the crowding that is holding back production and herd health. We have about 3,300 animals on our facility.

We feed a TMR and installed EZfeed from DHI-Provo last year. It allows me to know what's being fed and what my costs are. With feed costs as high as they are, we need all the help we can get! We are hitting $7/head/day in the highest producing strings.

We have 22 employees who take care of the dairy, heifers and crops. Most of our employees have been with us for 15 years or longer. We have a great crew! We farm about 600 acres that we double-crop with corn and ryegrass taken for silage.

I believe the dairy industry has a bright future despite milk prices being down and feed costs up. But I still think it's going to get really good again--soon. We won't make it long on $13 milk, and I don't think it will stay there long.

The new national CAFO rules are going to shake us all up. Just what we need--more government oversight. Each state is going to struggle through this issue, and then we all are going to have to modify our CAFO plans to please the EPA. This is going to be a big issue in 2009 for all large CAFO owners.

Immigration needs to be straightened out, for my employees' peace of mind. I'm not firing an employee who has worked hard for me for 18 years, bought a house, raised his kids, paid his taxes and has never had problems with the law. I hired these great employees when the government encouraged them to come, legal or not, to work in the agriculture industry.

The year 2009 looks to be quite a ride. I look forward to sharing it with you all.


Kazemier's November Prices  
Milk (3.5% bf, 3.02% prt): $15.40/cwt. (gross)
Cull cows: $36/cwt.
Springing heifers: $1,800/head
Top-quality alfalfa (delivered) $280/ton
Flaked corn (2009 contracted) $280/ton


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