The Douglass Family
Dairy Farmers from Marshallville, Ohio
The Douglass family has been involved in dairy farming for three generations. John and Lois Douglass, together with their children, have grown their farm to more than 5,700 dairy cows that live on three farms in Ohio and Kentucky. The Douglasses work closely with their team of employees to provide excellent care for their cows who produce safe wholesome milk that helps feed the world.
How is cow care different in the summer than it is in the winter?
John: Our cows are housed in barns with roofs that provide natural shade in the summer. On a hot, bright summer day, a barn can be 20 degrees cooler inside than it is outside. In the summer, cows need plenty of clean, cold water and can drink more than 40 gallons each day, and it’s important to keep fresh water in front of them at all times. We have 12-foot, automatically refilling water troughs where about 8-10 cows can drink at one time. To keep cows cool on the hottest days, we have we have sprinkler systems in our barns that turn on every 10 minutes and mist the cows. The sprinklers combined with 52-inch fans hung throughout the barn create a cooling effect that is very similar to air conditioners in our houses. Rubber flooring keeps cows from slipping when they move about the stalls or walk to the milking parlor.
HEAR FROM THE FARMER
Listen to John Douglass explain how dairy farmers are working to feed the word
Why do you use sand as bedding for your cows?
John: We use sand in our free stall beds because it is soft and comfortable for the cows. It also stays cool in the summer and traps heat in the winter. Much of the sand that we use is recycled. We can separate the sand from manure, clean it, take the water out of it and, within 2-3 weeks, it comes back to the barn as clean as it comes from the gravel pits. Hauling sand is rough on our equipment, so, by recycling it, we don’t have to haul or purchase as much of it. Also, it means less sand goes back on our fields, which helps protect the environment.
We think of those who work for us as more family than employees.
What do you believe has made you successful dairy farmers?
John: We’ve had good years, we’ve had lean years, and we’ve had major weather events. Every morning, you wake up and it’s a bright, fresh new day, and there are always new challenges. We’ve been motivated by many of the challenges that dairy farming provides, as well as by many of the employees. It’s just like any other business, there are peaks and valleys, and we learn to appreciate the peaks and get through the valleys.
Lois: We try to recruit good people with high ethical values as employees, and we provide them with extensive training and treat them fairly. The way we run our farm is more of a family approach— we think of those who work for us as more family than employees.