Meet a Hoosier Dairy Farmer
Through the use of innovative and safe technology, Hoosier dairy farmers deliver exceptional animal care, sustainable nutrition, and fresh, delicious dairy foods. Recycling resources, generating electricity, and reducing the amount of land and water used on the farm are just a few ways dairy farmers are caring for their cows, land, and communities. Meet some Hoosier dairy farmers near you and get the inside scoop on their farms.
Triple M Dairy
Kimberly Minich is a Nurse Practitioner from Northern Indiana. Splitting her time between the family farm and her nursing job is a difficult task, but she enjoys being able to share her knowledge regarding the benefits of milk and other dairy products. Kimberly and her husband Luke live on a fourth generation dairy farm, where they milk both Holstein and Jersey cows. Their farm was first established in 1909 by Luke’s great grandpa and great uncle. Time passed and Luke, who attended college to become a broker, decided to carry on the family legacy. Luke and Kimberly hope that their passion for farming will carry over to their five children, making them the fifth generation. Minich Farms Fun Fact: In a 2018 episode of Sesame Street, where Cookie Monster needs more milk for his smoothie, Minich Farms was featured for a short segment teaching kids about the process their milk goes through to get to the shelves in stores near them. Follow along with the Minich family on their Facebook page, Triple M Dairy.
Tim Haynes farms with his brother and their families at Superior Dairy in Garrett. His grandfather started the farm back in the 1940’s, which has since expanded into raising crops and pigs as well as the dairy cows. The family members each specialize in a different part of the farm, from cow care to crop farming to accounting and public relations. They recently built a new “smart barn” for their cows, complete with automatic fans, water, curtains, and even robots! These robots allow the cows to get milked whenever they want, and keep the cows calm and comfortable in the barn. As the fourth generation on the farm, Tim says working with his family is the most rewarding part, and that farming is in their blood.
Alan Kuehnert spends his days working on his 121 year old family farm: Kuehnert Dairy in Fort Wayne. When Alan was younger, the farm milked just 20 cattle and after he graduated high school, that number grew to 60, 90, and now 350 registered Holsteins. Alan is joined on the farm by his family including his wife, his brothers, and his son who does the nutrition work for the dairy. Kuehnert Dairy milks using both a traditional milking parlor and milking robots. Not only does the dairy produce all of their own feed, they recycle old fruit for their cows. Alan takes great pride in producing milk, the perfect food, with his family. Kuehnert Dairy hosts a fall festival each year where visitors can learn and play at the farm! Find out more at www.kuehnertdairy.com
Jill Houin was not raised on a farm, but her passion for dairy was ignited when she joined her husband at a series of speeches in Australia. On the trip, Jill realized her husbands’ love for dairy farming, and it sparked her love for it as well. As a former teacher, Jill loves teaching others about dairy farming through farm tours, and also raises the calves on the farm. Homestead Dairy has a very humble beginning, starting out in 1945 with nine cows, some chickens, pigs, and twelve kids. The Houin family currently milks 4,900 Holstein cows; half in a traditional milking parlor and the other half with the help of robots. Jill and her family are invested in sustainability on the farm, using several unique methods including a digester to make energy out of manure, using food waste from the University of Notre Dame to keep food out of landfills, and drying manure to recycle it as bedding for the cows. You can see more of Jill on Homestead Dairy’s Facebook, YouTube, or website.
Herr Dairy began with Steve Herr’s grandparents. Today, Steve Herr works alongside his parents, uncle, in-laws and other family members to help Herr Dairy thrive. The herd of about 450 is mostly comprised of Holsteins, however there are a few Jersey cattle mixed in. To feed the calves, Herr Dairy uses the whole milk that the robotic milkers collect from the cows. Each farm has its struggles, but in 1972, the Herr family had to navigate a fire that destroyed their milking parlor. The Herr’s were resilient and rebuilt, even adding robotic milkers in 2018. Steve notes that the fire is an important moment in the farm history, but also that as a family business, they have been able to get each other through the tough times together. Steve not only appreciates having his family to work with, but also having freedom within the farm to make changes he sees fit. Find Steve and his family on Facebook at Herr Dairy Farm, Inc.
Richard Thomas hails from his farm of Leann Acres in Elkhart county. Though he lived on a dairy farm for all his life, he left his home farm to create Leann Acres with his wife in 1979. He and his wife started their small dairy with just 15 head of Holsteins, but currently milks about 90 head of Holsteins with about a dozen Jerseys, and a few Brown Swiss, Milking Shorthorns, and Guernseys mixed in the herd. He and his wife are the original owners of the farm, but his son Sheldon has become majorly involved in the operation serving as the herd and show manager. As Sheldon became involved with the cows, he took over the cow care side of the farm. Richard now spends most of his time running the crop side of their family farm. Richard enjoys farming with his family and passing this love down to his son. Find out more about Richard and Leann Acres on their Facebook page.
John Boerman and his family moved to Indiana in 2010 and felt warmly welcomed into the dairy community. Both he and his wife Jackie, who serves as a dairy management professor at Purdue University, grew up in dairy families, and their two young sons are already falling in love with the farm. John says he farms because he loves to see things grow, whether it is cattle, crops or people. He enjoys being able to see something start small and nurture it until it develops into something bigger.
Lance Sommer knew he was going to grow up and one day become a farmer and milk cows; he never wanted to do anything else. Agriculture was in his family and in his blood. Lance’s grandfather moved to the United States from Switzerland and raise a few cows, horses, and pigs. The farm has grown over the years to 2,500 acres of farmland and 300 cows. Lance enjoys working with his parents, brother-in-law and their children. They have invested in the technology on their farm; switching from milking in a parlor to milking with five robots, and using automated alley scrappers, feed pusher, and calf feeders. The Sommers recycle sawdust from a duck farm by composting it and using it for cow bedding.
Neu Hope Dairy
Alex Neuenschwander is a fourth-generation dairy farmer with his family at Neu Hope Dairy. From a young age while growing up, Alex always knew he wanted to farm. By showing at the county fair and participating in 4-H his passion and love for cows grew even more. The milk produced by their herd goes into making yogurt for Dannon. An interesting fact about the feeding of the Neu-Hope herd is that in 2018, the cows began getting ingredients in their diets that are GMO free. For every Dannon cup with the non-GMO project butterfly label, about 2% of the yogurt in that individual bottle is made from the milk from Neu-Hope. The sand bedding used for the cows is recycled in efforts to improve sustainability on the farm. To learn more, visit the Neu-Hope website.
Janet Dague had never spent much time on a farm until she married her husband Andy and settled into a fulltime milking position with his family. Dague farms was started by Andy’s grandparents in 1960 and now has the fourth generation of the family working on the farm. Since starting at the farm, Janet has grown to love teaching her community about the benefits of dairy. Dairy farming is not always easy, but even in the toughest of times, their family still continues to work each day and keep the family farm running. They have grown their farm from the original 25 cows to over 600 cattle of all ages. They milk their cows in a modern milking parlor twice a day. Every other day, the milk is picked up for processing to get to a store near you in less than 48 hours! Dague Farms Fun Fact: The movie Best Man in Grass Creek, was filmed on the farm and released in the year 2001.
Anita Schmitt works with three generations of family on their dairy farm every day. She and her husband took over the farm that was started by his parents in 1941. A new barn was built in 1995, but after a barn fire, Anita and her family built back stronger than ever. They care for their all-Holstein herd by using sand bedding to keep them cool and comfortable all year round. Anita loves that her cows get to hang out on a “beach” all day! She enjoys dairy farming and the ability it gives her to be her own boss.
Sam Schwoeppe’s family has been farming since 1874, and she now farms with her sons that make up the fifth generation at Schwoeppe Dairy. The first milking parlor was built in 1920 and the original farm of crops, pigs, beef and dairy cows has specialized into exclusively dairy. This has also allowed them to concentrate on their herd genetics, which they are able to use as an additional income on the farm. With their cows grazing on land just outside their home, environmental care is at the forefront of Sam and her family’s management practices. Sam is active in her community, and working closely with many food pantries to make sure clients have access to the nutritious dairy foods they need.