Technology, Teamwork Drive Dueppengiesser Dairy

6/7/2014 7:00 AM
By Kathleen Kellogg New York Correspondent

PERRY, N.Y. — Dueppengiesser Dairy’s roots go generations deep in western New York soil, but the family operation has stayed on top with an Old World work ethic, a positive attitude and a willingness to embrace new ideas.

Pete Dueppengiesser is the family member who runs the dairy side of the farm that increasingly relies on technology for growth. He is quick to admit not every day is a good day, but he credits attitude and teamwork for good decision-making, and hard work in a highly competitive business. His brother, Mike, schooled in diesel technology, is the crop and machinery manager. A niece, Katy, Mike’s daughter, takes care of the calf operation. Pete’s two sons, Jake and Jared, might join the team after college.

Pete Dueppengiesser’s father, Arnold, emigrated from Germany at 16 to work on his uncle’s dairy in Clarence, N.Y. When it was squeezed by suburban growth in 1969, Arnold moved his family to the current Wyoming County location at 7835 Butler Road in Perry, N.Y.

The herd now numbers 2,200 head and is fed corn, alfalfa and wheat grown on 1,400 acres the family owns, as well as another 600 leased acres nearby.

The business employs 20 people, and aims for excellent cow care and large volumes of high-quality milk.

This means paying close attention to cow reproduction to bring about high milk production and top bloodlines.

One result is award-winning cows, including Annalea Goldwyn Alinda, an Ex 94, the grand champion of the recent New York Spring Junior Holstein Show.

The herd’s production average is 27,543 pounds of milk, 1,067 pounds fat and 834 pounds protein. The milk is marketed through Dairy Farmers of America, or DFA.

Dueppengiesser’s management team is quick to move in new directions when it makes sense. In 1990, for example, its two tie stall barns were replaced by a new free stall barn to boost milker capacity from 90 to 400.

Recently, the dairy’s calf operation has seen greater efficiency, where 200 calves are fed and raised in more natural conditions. Newborns are fitted with special ear tags and live in large group pens, drinking freely from automatic feeding stations that dispense the dairy’s pasteurized milk. With the calf’s unique genetic and nutritional data embedded in the ear tag, a computer will receive a signal when it is time to cut off the station’s milk supply. Later, the calf can return and get more food.

Computers also help in reproductive decisions. Pete Dueppengiesser can monitor a cow’s readiness to breed by checking activity level data transmitted from the cow’s collar. The information from the best cows is matched with the best breeding bull through genomics, the study of the scientific use of DNA and genetic sequencing.

In another step in the reproductive process, genetic traits are gleaned from lab analyses of bull hair samples to choose a sire. Bulls might be found in the herd or could be living somewhere else on the planet.

Genomics allows the herd manager to select and match cows and bulls for specific traits, and get the desired results in a single-generation turn-around.

“Before, we had to wait for hundreds of daughters for many years,” Dueppengiesser said.

On and off the farm, the brothers and other family members often act as ambassadors to build good neighborhood relationships. They are eager to talk about western New York’s little-known “cutting-edge and progressive” dairy industry.

The family hosted 4,000 attendees at Wyoming County’s 2013 Agri-Palooza.

They are also part of dairy groups that meet regularly to keep up with industry trends, spend time with neighbors answering questions before they spread liquid manure, and they educate the public about dairy safeguards.

Pete Dueppengiesser tries to set folks straight on the dangers of raw milk and explains that antibiotics are never used on cows or added to milk destined for public consumption. He said worker safety, clean water and compliance with federal Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation, or CAFO, standards are issues of public concern, but they all increase the need to balance time and resources.

He pointed to a set of thick Occupational Safety & Health Administration notebooks he is using to prepare for this year’s new federal safety inspections standards.

“We want what the public wants,” Dueppengiesser said.

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