The Miedema Family
Dairy Farmers from Circleville, Ohio
Andy and Itske Miedema care for their 1,300 Holstein cows in Pickaway County, Ohio. Along with producing high-quality milk, Miedema Dairy has also won several environmental stewardship awards including the Ohio Dairy Producer’s Environmental Stewardship Award.
How many dairy cows do you manage? Has that number grown over time?
When we started more than 25 years ago, we had 120 cows. Today, our farm has grown to 1,300 head of dairy cattle.
Dairy farming is hard work that never ends. So why do you do it? Why not pursue a different kind of job or lifestyle?
Being a dairy farmer means that you have to milk, feed and take care of your cows 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. Emergency calls are a part of life and our family knows that a problem on the farm can change your plans very quickly. This has never been a problem for our family as this is the way it has always been. Growing up on the farm connects you daily to farm interests and this is a huge privilege. To deliver a calf and help it grow into a good milk-producing cow is an invaluable learning experience
What does a dairy farmer need to know to be successful?
A dairy farmer needs to be knowledgeable in a lot of fields. Knowledge of cow health is number one, but a dairy farmer also needs to have knowledge of software, mechanical and electric issues, and financial management to be successful. You also need to be willing to do a lot of manual labor to complete the jobs that others would refuse to do.
Your farm has been recognized recently for its environmental efforts. Tell us about that.
Our industry recognized us with an environmental stewardship award for our commitment to protecting the environment. It was an honor to be acknowledged for our efforts.
Our farm is based on recycling. Corn is grown on our neighbors’ farms and our liquid manure is irrigated over their growing crops as a fertilizer. The solids are used for bedding and for fertilizing the non-irrigated areas. Now we’re capturing and flaming off the methane gas created by the fresh manure in our lagoons. In the future we hope to convert it to an energy source for our farm.