“Cowside Conversations” is a monthly podcast brought to you by the Center for Dairy Excellence. We’ve heard time and time again that dairy farmers learn the most from other dairy farmers. So, in this podcast we’re going to share real-time farmer insight, tricks of the trade, and inspiring stories from dairies across Pennsylvania.
Episode 3: Justin Risser talks about transition, herd health, and treating each animal, field and employee as an individual
January on the farm can be rough for everyone: you, your employees, and your herd. In this episode of Cow-Side Conversations, Justin Risser of Meadow Vista Dairy in northern Lancaster County shares how his team takes it one day, one decision, and one individual at a time. He describes how they try to manage the dairy operation with an individualized approach – from caring for their crops and their cows to making reproduction decisions, managing employees and allowing change to happen between generations. Justin discusses some unique approaches they have taken with dry cow management and the impact those decisions have had on metabolic illnesses. He also opens up about his family’s recent transition process, giving an honest look at farm-level, financial and relationship-driven decisions that went into it.
Episode 2: Sue Miller shares how artisan cheese combines science with intuition, fosters community, and begins with beautiful milk
“Cheese-making is kind of like farming. There are many different ways to do it well and do it right.” The holiday season is here, and can you imagine having to fill a bunch of orders from last-minute customers looking for the perfect gift? For Pennsylvania dairy farmers in the artisan cheese business, that’s exactly what this time of year can look like.
In this episode of Cow-Side Conversations, Sue Miller of Birchrun Hills Farm in Chester County shares how her family is adding value to their small dairy farm (54 acres and 70 cows) with artisan cheese. Sue describes how they manage their herd to produce high-quality milk with an ideal ratio between fat and protein, some of the skills that are critical to her role as a cheesemaker, how they work as a family 7 days a week, and the community and growth opportunities that are forming through the resurgence of artisan cheese across the state.
Season Three Recap: Here's our favorite conversations with 12 dairy farms
As we wrap up Season 3, Jayne Sebright, host of the podcast, sat down with Emily Barge, our podcast producer, for this special bonus episode to reflect on some memorable moments. Featuring conversations with 12 dairy farms from across Pennsylvania, this season included farm-level takeaways and real-time insight on everything from cow/calf care and employee management to transformation, cropping strategies, and farm stress.
Thank you to the farmers who have shared their stories and to our growing community of listeners! We kicked off Season 4 this November with an interview with Neil Hertzler of Rock Hollow Dairy LLC.
Episode 1: Neil Hertzler gives inside look at rotational grazing operation & how to drive strong milk production, herd and pasture health
With fall harvest wrapping up, many dairy farms are looking ahead to the winter months. For the grazing herds in Pennsylvania, this means moving their herds off the grass. To kick off Season 4 of Cow-Side Conversations, Neil Hertzler of Rock Hollow Dairy LLC in Perry County, Pennsylvania shares how his family transitioned their dairy operation to a rotational grazing model years ago. With 240 milking cows, they are passionate about giving their cows as much grass and sunlight as possible. Neil describes some of the rewards of a pasture-based model, including strong milk production, herd health and longevity, and lower equipment costs. He also opens up about some of the challenges, including weather patterns, moving large groups of cattle, heat spells and lameness.
Episode 12: Cory Mellott and Kerry & James St. Onge describe how they are bringing new life into existing dairy operation through benchmarking, innovation, and employee management
Too often in Pennsylvania, we talk about dairy farm families who are exiting the dairy business. In this episode of Cow-Side Conversations, Cory Mellott, Kerry St. Onge and James St. Onge – all middle managers at Molly Pitcher Milk LLC – share the unique journey of how their owners, the Jones family, purchased the dairy farm in 2022. They took an operation without a next generation in line and are taking it to the next level by bringing together a passionate, highly motivated team. Located in Cumberland and Franklin Counties, the team milks approximately 760 cows and focuses on cultivating a team of employees who understand the “why” behind what they do. Cory, Kerry and James share innovative approaches to managing cows between two facilities, building trust with existing employees, completing a heat audit for cow comfort, analyzing benchmarking data, and managing a digester and Air B&B rental house that are on the property.
Episode 11: Tyler Rohrer talks expansion and how new rotary parlor improves herd health, overcrowding and employee management
What does the expansion decision-making process look like? In this episode of Cow-Side Conversations, Tyler Rohrer of Rohrer Dairy Farms in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania shares how his family made the decision to invest in a 60-stall rotary milking parlor and expand to milk 1,600 cows. From milking more cows in less time to a healthier overall herd, Tyler describes some of the benefits and competitive advantages to their new set-up – while being honest about the hurdles and timelines that are part of any major dairy expansion project.
This is a great podcast. It’s giving me some motivation I’ve kinda lost in this industry.
Cruel barbaric dairy industry
The dairy industry is hidden with many cruel practices including taking babies forcing them to be confine, impregnated and produce too much milk. They love a horrible life then get slaughtered. Stop this lying podcast
Thank you Jayne and congratulations on the podcast’s one year anniversary.