Dairy Farmer from Big Prairie, Ohio
Larry is a 4th generation dairy farmer from Holmes County, Ohio. Together with his son-in-law Ron, they care for 550 Jersey cows and farm 800 acres of crops. Hyland Acres Jerseys have continually advanced their farm to ensure their cows are well-cared for and producing safe, high quality milk.
What’s the history of your dairy?
Larry: The farmhouse we live in was built by my great grandfather back in the 1800s. It cost $1,500 to build. My grandmother designed the house when she was 17 years old. The original barn was $1,200 and was built at the same time.
My great grandfather started this farm with Jersey cows. They were milking 20-25 cows back then and they milked by hand. We’ve stuck with the Jersey breed through the years. I’ve always liked working with Jerseys.
HEAR FROM THE FARMER
Listen to Larry Alexander as he expands on what the does to care for his cows
What advancements have you experienced in your lifetime as a dairy farmer?
Larry: My grandfather used to milk by hand, and the milk in the bucket would be exposed to air and all sorts of things. Now it goes from that cow right into the holding tank immediately. This is an improvement in process and safety.
We’ve seen a lot of genetic improvement. We’ve also gone to a mixed feed for the cows, and we test for nutritional value. You never did that before, you basically flew by the seat of your pants with how you fed your cows. Now it’s a scientific thing you go by, and you do feed samples and feed tests so you know exactly what’s in the feed. You know how much protein, how much energy, how much starch – all these things that go into helping a cow produce quality milk.
I’ve enjoyed what we’ve accomplished. I don’t know what else I would have rather done.
We spend up to 15 or 16 hours a day taking care of the cows.
You’ve said that it sometimes feels like you’re married to the cows. What do you mean by that?
Larry: We spend up to 15 or 16 hours a day taking care of the cows. I think about all of those things that make for a healthy environment with the cows: they have mattresses to lay on, they have curtains, they have showers, they have fans, and we provide all those kinds of things to keep them comfortable. All their food is brought to them. They don’t run out of feed or water, and they don’t have to search for it. If they’re sick we treat them. It’s the care and nurturing we provide every day. In that sense, we are dedicated to these cows.