Employing a technique found on Pennsylvania farms, where their father, Wilmer Martin, grew up, the brothers hung notched bars above each cow. The bars are called “cow trainers,” and are designed to prevent manure from ending up in the cows’ bedding.
“When I first started milking, I went for two weeks without the trainers and realized how much more work was involved in cleanup,” David says.
Eugene and David both made sure that they could mix their feed while protected from inclement weather, too. Their mixing machinery is inside the barn, and the brothers deliver feed to their animals via battery-powered feed carts.
Growing up in a large family on a dairy farm, the brothers say they came to understand the value of hard work and the importance of diversification in the volatile dairy industry.
“In the early 2000s, when milk prices were low, my father decided to breed and raise goldendoodles for additional income,” says David.
For a time, the family’s finances were so strained that the brothers were forced to use wheelbarrows for hauling because there wasn’t enough money to fix a skid steer.
Eventually, as times improved and the children moved off the family farm, Eugene and David took over the dog-breeding enterprise from their father, who was busy not only with his cows but another sideline business: disassembling rejected auto parts and retrieving the plastic pieces, which are then sent to a nearby factory for recycling. The brothers continue raising dogs for additional family income.
In addition to milking and feeding their herds, David and Eugene pay particular attention to the cows during their daily exercise routine. The brothers unhook each cow in their own tie-stall barns and then direct the animals to adjacent pastureland.
“I let them out for two or three hours when the weather allows,” David says. “They get to move around, and I watch for signs of which ones are in heat.”
For cow comfort during the heat of summer, six 54-inch fans provide tunnel ventilation in the barns. In addition, three garage-style doors can be opened for increased air flow.
Also contributing to cow comfort are padded mattresses for bedding, with a layer of wood shavings on top. The shavings are added twice each day, keeping the cow beds dry and fresh.
Among the many decisions required before a dairy can begin operation, a producer must find a way to market the milk. For David and Eugene, who grew up in a DFA family, the choice was obvious.
“Dad was with DFA and had good results,” David says. “So, we just felt comfortable staying with DFA to pick up our milk.”