Raised in a barn

Written by Molly Schmitt

With fewer people having a direct connection to a farm, young farmers are harder to come by than just a few generations ago. But, that fact hasn’t stopped three young ladies from developing a deep passion for farming and the dairy industry that they plan to continue in the future.

All from southern Missouri, Cheyenne Anderson, Ashton Atteberry and Ellie Wantland prove the future is bright for the industry. Raised on dairy farms, each of these women have taken steps toward becoming successful dairy producers. From building up their own herds to participating in national competitions to pursuing careers in agriculture, each of these teenagers has a story to tell and many stories yet to be had.

Cheyenne Anderson (16, Conway, Mo.) 
“The day she brought me home from the hospital, my mom had me out in the milk barn. That’s all we’ve done my whole life — farm,” says Cheyenne, DFA’s youngest producer. “It all started when I was really little and around the farm 24/7. I’ve kind of been hooked on it from the beginning.”

While Cheyenne was always a big helper on her parents’ farm, she took the next step when she got her first job on a nearby dairy at the age of 13. Every day she worked with cows, from milking at home in the morning to helping at her neighbor’s in the evening.

In 2016, Cheyenne’s parents sold their dairy herd, and she continued working for her neighbors. Using the money she made working for the other dairy and from selling some of her cows the prior year, she purchased her own herd at the age of 15, only one year after her family called it quits.

“I missed it [dairy farming] and wanted to get back into it,” Cheyenne says. “I mostly missed just being around the cows in general. To me, there’s nothing more relaxing than being able to work with animals.”

Currently 16 years old, Cheyenne milks 27 Holstein cows and runs her own operation on her parents’ farm. While her dad is there to help if needed, milking, feeding, washing, sanitizing and everything else is up to her.

Cheyenne credits her dad, Dale, and mom, Oleta, as well as her late grandma, for instilling the work ethic in her to pursue her passion for dairy. Currently attending Laclede County R-1 High School, she is considering careers within agriculture that will allow her to continue dairy farming after school. Cheyenne’s goal is to reach 200 head eventually, and she is continuing to expand her knowledge about dairy farming every day.

Her neighbor, whom she occasionally still helps with milking, is teaching her how to artificially inseminate (AI) her cows. While she uses bulls to breed some of her cows, she also actively breeds some of her herd using AI to improve their udders and milk production. 

Aside from staying busy working on the farm, Cheyenne is active in 4-H and FFA, and shows dairy, beef, boar goats and lambs at shows up to the national level. Through her involvement, she is able to meet new people from all over the country, which she says is one of the most rewarding parts of farming.