Dairy Farmer from Newark, Ohio
Stacey Shipley-Atherton works alongside her brother Adam and family to care for their 500 Holstein and Jersey cows. Their fourth-generation farm has grown since the 1940s, but the family’s commitment to cow care and producing safe, wholesome milk has always been a top priority.
With a college degree in hand, why come back home to be a dairy farmer?
I wanted to come back because I really do enjoy working with the cows. I could go somewhere else and work, and probably make a lot more money and work a lot less hours, but I consider myself lucky to be around here and work with these girls every day.
I majored in animal science at Ohio State and had a minor in ag business. Business is a big part of the dairy farm so I took a lot of business classes for that reason, and I also enhanced my knowledge of animal reproduction and nutrition.
Do modern advancements in dairy farming have an effect on how your cows live day to day?
Today’s modern dairy farm is engineered around cow comfort. Research is done all the time on how we, as dairy farmers, can make our cows more comfortable. If they’re happy, we’re happy. So when we built our barn last summer we incorporated the latest research and best technology to ensure cow comfort.
Does farm size matter when it comes to cow care and milk safety?
Regardless of size, we’re dairy farmers because we love it. As many hours as you put in, you’d have to be crazy to do it just to make money. We want to make sure our milk is a safe, nutritious product for everybody to drink. I enjoy drinking the milk, and I want to make sure there’s plenty for other people to drink.
What are some sustainability practices on your farm?
We are making bigger strides to make more of a difference. We reuse sand in our sand lane, which saves us from having to buy new sand and having to spread it on the fields, saving a lot of energy. We also just installed a new plate cooler which uses water to cool our milk more efficiently, and we’re able to reuse that water later by offering it to our cows to drink.
The environment is huge to us – we want to take care of the environment. Sustainable practices will make our farm able to continue in the future and still be profitable. We are a multi-generational farm, so we do want the farm to be there for the next generation if they so choose to come back.
How do parents know that school milk is safe for kids to drink?
I have two boys who are in school – both eat school lunches every day and always have milk with their lunch. I feel very comfortable having them drink that milk because I know that it is very safe. Milk from our farm goes to make a lot of school milk, and we do everything we can to make sure it is safe. Every single load of milk is tested for antibiotics, and we do our very best to ensure it is a good product.
Meet more Ohio and West Virginia dairy farmers.