Ice cream. That’s one thing that Brian Houin dreams about.
Homestead Dairy in Plymouth, Indiana is home to 1,800 cows that are milked three times a day. This means that the milk truck comes and picks up the milk more than four times each day. Brian’s family also has two other sites where they milk cows and between the three sites (Homestead, Homestead 2, Legacy), they take care of 3,300 milking cows.
When my four year old heard about these 3,300 cows and then was offered the chance to ask a question, ANY question, she used the opportunity to try out her new understanding of math, “What would happen if you added 8,000 cows?” she asked.
Brian, who is a dad of two young children, didn’t even blink. “Well, if you were to add up all of our cows, all of the heifers and all of the calves and bulls, we would have about 8,000.” he answered.
“How much do they eat?” she asked.
The answer? 110 – 120 pounds of food PER day! Some days I can’t even get breakfast on the table before school starts, but farmers are feeding their cows 110 pounds of food EACH! Plus they drink a bathtub full of water.
110 pounds of food + 30 gallons of water = 10 gallons of milk
Back to the ice cream.
Brian and his generation at Homestead Dairy are excited about the possibilities ahead when it comes to dairy farming. He’s hoping that the next generation will get into some milk processing and maybe have a label for their own line of ice cream. Maybe.
If the kids in his family are anything like him, they’ll be farmers, but probably very different farmers on a very different farm from what their dad, Brian, works on today.
Brian had plans to leave the farm. In college he studied to be a meteorologist, “Back in the 80’s we weren’t nearly as big. My dad was working a lot of hours, really hard hours and we didn’t have a lot.” he explains.
But, “We got bigger, dairy got better. When I interned for a meteorologist, I realized those weren’t very good hours either to raise a family. So I came back here and helped manage the calves and I haven’t looked back since.”
I love a good Prodigal Son story. Or maybe I just really like cheese. Some of those semi loads head to Goshen, Indiana and are made into cheese. The rest goes to Huntington, Indiana and is bottled for drinking.
Brian’s dad and uncle used to work hard hours milking 110 cows. These days they’re all working hard milking over 3,000 cows. They’re using technology that helps them manage the cows individually, even though there are so many of them.
During our visit, two calves were born. Thirteen. That’s the number of calves born each day on the main farm. These are the next generation of cows that will be milked, and they are also a part of a research project. On their first day of life, a tissue sample is taken for genetic testing to help with research that will likely be important for the next generation of farmers at Homestead Dairy.
I’d say Brian is right when he says that things have changed and I believe that his children will echo these same sentiments in the coming decades.
I am a proud ambassador for Indiana Dairy because I love cheese and milk! I was compensated for sharing this information with you. These are true stories of our interactions with Indiana Dairy Farmers.