By Scott Stebner on June 7, 2016
The Fosters grow kiddos and dairy cows on their farm
“My great grandparents raised dairy cattle. My grandparents grew up on the same farmland that I did. They came back to the farm after getting their degrees at K-State. I always knew I was going to come back to the dairy.”
David Foster is a fourth-generation dairy farmer in southeast Kansas. Working alongside his father, David co-manages the Foster Dairy which is a 150-cow operation, producing approximately 1,000 gallons of fresh milk each day.
“When you’re born and raised on a dairy, you start at an early age helping out, whether it is in the milk barn or helping feed the bottle calves – once you’re tall enough,” David says. “As you grow older and more responsible, you gain more responsibility on the family farm.”
Although his children are too young to help on the farm right now, he hopes their time on the family farm leaves a positive impression on them.
“I hope they want to come back to the dairy,” David says. “And if they decide to come back, I hope I can give them a healthy business that will provide for their families.”
Part of that business is making sure the operation is running as efficiently as possible on the family farm.
“I wish I could claim credit for helping the family, but my wife does it all,” David explains. “I’m out the door before my children wake up. I'm gone every morning and I can finally get in around 7:30 or so at night when they're ready for bed. Unless I come home for lunch, I don’t see my family that often because I’m always out there taking care of the cows.”
David and his family, the Foster Dairy is planning to install a brand-new automatic milking parlor that features highly advanced robots to do the actual milking.
“We’re excited for the robots,” he says. “It’s going to free up so much time, make us much more efficient and allow us to take better care of the cows through great record keeping.”
Through the increased record keeping, David hopes his cows will also be healthier and happier.
Everyone has heard the phrase, “Happy cows come from California,” but the reality is happy cows come from wherever there is a family dairy farm like David’s. David grew up with cows. In a way, the cows are part of his family. But he also knows from a business standpoint that happy and healthy cows are the most profitable cows.
“Ultimately, you take care of your animals and they’ll take care of you,” David says. “When we focus on animal health and comfort, the cows will help sustain our family business.”
Part of taking care of his cows is making sure they have plenty of clean sand bedding to lay in whenever they want, ample fans to cool the cows off during the hot summer months, free-choice water, prompt medical attention if needed, an all-you-can-eat buffet of feed that is prepared daily and two months off in a lush pasture to rest from milking.