The de Boers spent years remodeling and building their operation in Dublin. They started with a double-eight herringbone parlor, and in 2007, they tore down the milking barn and built an expanded barn housing a double-20 parallel. Over the years, they bought more land; now they own 500 acres and lease another 1,000 acres growing wheat, corn, Bermuda grass and sorghum.
Like many others, Johan had to adjust his operation during the downturn in 2009. He says that margin differences showed him that he needed to dedicate more attention to growing additional feed for his herd.
Johan made it a practice to form a good relationship with the people who work with him on the farm. He has 16 employees, with eight of them living on the property. Some of the men have been with the de Boers for 12 years. Johan speaks English and his native Dutch language and says he learned Spanish to communicate better with his employees.
“I’m not perfect in my Spanish,” he says. “I can understand them and we can talk about chores, the dairy and what needs to be done. “
Johan has another longstanding work relationship with his veterinarian, which began before he opened Fluit Dairy.
“Johan applied what he learned in school in Holland,” says Mike McNally of McNally Veterinary Service. “He also worked for others and saw how they did it. It’s a two-way street for us. He teaches me some stuff and I teach him.”
McNally says that Johan keeps his herd manageable and does a great job of ensuring the stalls are clean and providing fresh sand as often as possible.
“He loves calves, and he’s constantly working,” McNally says. “That’s one reason this thing runs so smooth is because he’s here most of the time. He’s got a good crew so he can take a few days off. He’s here and his employees know where he is all the time. That makes a big difference.”
Meeting the needs of the cows comes naturally for Johan. He picked up a lot of these skills on his father’s dairy.
“I’ve worked with cows since I was a little boy,” he says. “I treat all the cows myself with some of my guys and then I tell them what to do. I like to manage the cows and breed them and take care of the sick cows. Every day, I spend the first three hours of the day tending to the sick cows, depending on how many we have. ”
Another key relationship Johan has on the dairy is with his nutritionist. The two concentrate on using as much of Johan’s forages as possible to keep the cows healthy.
“His focus is back here on the dairy every day,” says Dean McMahon, a nutritionist with Purina. “He’s very much a hands-on operator. He’s very open to change and very open to progression if it benefits the farm and the cows. “
Klazina and Johan use myDFA to monitor test results and their milk check. Klazina manages the books and their children, Ilse, 11, Jilt, 9, and Jitse, 4. Neither of them call running a dairy a job.
“If you work for somebody else, it’s probably nine to five,” Klazina says. “We work 24/7, but we love it, so it’s not really a job for us. This is our life.”
“The de Boers’ milk is always high quality,” says Danny Glossup, the farms’ DFA field representative. “Johan and Klazina use the latest technologies in all aspects of their operation, while they also keep their place well kept. I see them as being one of our true leaders, not only within the Cooperative but with the community as well.”