Every dairy farmer is an animal lover. That’s why Nebraska dairy farmers are passionate about providing comfortable, clean, safe facilities for their cows. They take a tremendous amount of pride in their heritage as family farms where a love for raising animals is passed down from generation to generation.
“We don’t really separate dairying from family.” Dan Rice comes from a long line of dairy producers, so the dairy business is in his blood. As an owner and manager of Prairieland Dairy, he and his family understand the commitment it takes to be a successful dairy farmer. “It’s a 24/7 job. If our life is interrupted by the dairy, that’s just the way it is. The cows’ needs come first.”
For Dan, one of the great things about being a dairyman is that he can work side-by-side with his family. Son Ben and father Dave are his constant work companions. The three generations of Rices have what Dan believes every dairy farmer possesses: a love for the cows and a love for working with animals.
“In this dairy, our cows are treated very carefully. They’re given a lot of attention.” Dan goes on to describe what measures he has taken to make sure his cows are as content as possible. For example, he puts down sand for bedding because it's more comfortable – and cleaner – than traditional straw, even though it’s more expensive and involves more work.
He also sets high standards in the milking parlor to ensure safety and quality by controlling environmental conditions, following stringent cleanliness practices and testing the product before it leaves the farm.
Passing his love for cows and his love for the land down to his son is important to Dan. And that love shows in how he cares for his farm.
“We feel great about bringing a good, healthy product to people in the world.” Dairy producers have a common thread of honesty and working hard and share a strong commitment to produce a wholesome product for the world to consume.
That statement was shared because Bousquet Dairy Inc., South Sioux City, Nebraska, a second-generation family farms’ mission, is to take awesome care of both their cattle and land to in return produce high-quality milk for the consumers to enjoy.
Their dairy was started by Orelous and Rita Bousquet in 1941, with the family milking just a handful of cows by hand. They raised seven children who all helped in the dairy operation. Today, two of their sons, Robert and Rick, and their families own and operate Bousquet Dairy Inc.
Currently, the Bousquets milk 150 Holsteins and Brown Swiss cows twice a day, 14 at a time, in a milking parlor. On average, each cow gives 21,000 pounds a milk a year. The Bousquets also grow 2,500 acres of corn, soybeans and alfalfa to help feed their herd of cattle.
The Bousquet family cares for their land; after all, they live there, too. They rotate their crops, planting different crops to different fields each year, which helps preserve fertility and soil quality. They take much pride in sustainable farming to allow future generations to have good land and clean water.
Bousquet cows are housed in free stalls, meaning cows can move around or lay in stalls. They can lie down, go to feed or water at any time. Their cows are offered a free-choice ration throughout the day, a mixture of corn silage, alfalfa, corn and vitamin-mineral supplements that are formulated by the herd’s nutritionist. Their cows are milked twice a day and the stalls in the barn are bedded with sand. The barn is also equipped with fans to keep cows cool and comfortable.
Anytime the Bousquet family can improve cow comfort, they do. After all, their mission is to take great care of their land and cattle to bring a nutrient-rich, wholesome product to consumers around the world.