Farm name: Boschma Farms
Where is your farm located? Tolleson, Arizona
How long has your dairy been in business? 42 years
How long have you been involved in the dairy business? 11 years
Tell us a little bit about your dairy farm: We milk all Holstien cows (black and white cows). We are currently milking 2400 cows and have 2900 cows total on the dairy. The dairy has been family owned and operated for all 42 years. I married into the family 16 years ago. My wife and I are partners with her parents. We live on the dairy in the house where my wife (one of 7 children) was raised.
What is unique about your farm?
We dairy in an area populated with houses and stores. It is pretty neat to operate a farm so close to our customers. It is a unique opportunity to have people to see where their food is made and the environment in which the cows live. Our dairy has a lot of technology that we utilize to make the dairy as efficient as we can.
What do you like about being a dairy farmer?
I love helping to make a food which is so wholesome and nutritious I like being able to live and work in the same place. I like that we have an environment such as the dairy to raise our kids. During times off school all of our children work on the dairy (kids are 10,11,12 years old).
How have advancements in technology helped you manage the dairy better?
Technology helps us manage the herd as efficiently as possible. This allows feeding the cows with a great deal of accuracy, making sure the cows get the exact amount of nutrition to keep the cows very healthy while maximizing milk production. Technology helps us in the barn by being able to measure multiple points of the milking procedure to milk the cows in the most comfortable environment possible.
What do your in-laws think of the differences in technology from when they started until now?
My mother and father-in-law are very well educated and also well read. I believe they saw the industry going this direction with technology. I think they are very happy to see that all of their very hard work paying off! They used to do all of the work on the dairy by hand every day off the week. I am not sure of the exact number, it might take as many as 100 plus employees to do the work of the 29 people doing it today. I think one of the amazing things they see in the difference is the amount of milk we are able to produce per cow per year relative to how much they produced back then. We average in the high 70’s pounds per day per cow, and back then it was close to upper 50’s.
How does your dairy care for the cows?
We always treat all of our cows like she is our only cow. The We always treat all of our cows like she is our only cow. The cows receive care much like what you would see with humans. It is always in the best interest of the cow and also us to give the best possible care to the whole herd.
How does your dairy practice sustainability?
Dairy has always been leaders in sustainability. We have a zero export of feedstocks on the dairy. Nothing goes to waste. We use our water supplies up to 3sometimes four times. Fresh water is used to cool the refrigeration that cools the milk. That water is then used to wash the cows every time they come to the barn to be milked. Then the water is used to irrigate the farm ground we own down the road. If there is runoff from that water on the farm we then use it to add moisture to our compost which we make for vegetable farmers all over the southwest united states. We started a compost business 6 years ago to make a value-added fertilizer that could be used in conventional farming and also in organic farming.
What common misconception do you want to set straight about dairy farming?
That we are a large factory farm that is only concerned with making money. We are the size we are because of hard work and many decades of investment of profits back into the dairy operation. Also, a generational dedication to quality animal husbandry. We only succeed if the quality and comfort of our animals, coupled with dedicated employees are at their best. Bottom line is we love and are very blessed to produce milk. We love all of our cows and are grateful we are able to wake up every day and work in this industry.