A Closer Look: Steenstra Dairy

Written by Marjie Knust
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Eric and Amy Steenstra, and Eric’s father, John, operate Steenstra Dairy in Coopersville, Mich. Milking 180 cows, the family, along with four part-time and two full-time employees, also grows all of their own feed and focuses on cow comfort, nutrition and milk quality to maintain a successful, sustainable operation. In addition, Eric serves as an alternate on DFA’s Mideast Resolutions Committee.

2000

The year Eric built a new barn and milking facility.

“My family has been on this operation since 1971 when we moved here from New Jersey. I took over from my dad in 1991, and in 2000, we built new facilities. It’s a 200-head freestall barn with a double-eight herringbone parlor. Before that, we were milking in a stanchion barn.”

70

Pounds of milk each cow produces per day.

“There are probably guys out-milking me, but I go for the longevity of a cow. We put a lot of focus on cow comfort. We have a full barn, but it’s not overcrowded. We use sand bedding, so we don’t have a lot of feet trouble. We pay attention to nutrition and make sure they are getting what they need to stay healthy and produce as much milk as we can.”

35

Gallons per minute that run through the operation’s water system.

“Two years ago, we put in a water system that removes all of the iron and other minerals from the water. It also uses UV light to kill bacteria. We’ve noticed a real difference since we put that in. We’ve cut our vet bill in half. It was a heck of a commitment, but we did it, and I don’t regret a minute of it.”

4

Steenstra children who help out on the farm.

Charlie, 24, Regina, 22, Laura, 20, and Sonya, 17, all help on the dairy.

“It’s amazing to watch them work. On Sundays, it’s just the family here, and it’s really fun for me to see everyone working hard and working together. My wife milks with me and does the books; Charlie helps in the fields and in our shop; Regina, Laura and Sonya all work with the calves and pitch in wherever they can. They’ll tackle anything. It’s nice for me to see.”   –Marjie Knust