Farmer Andrew Kasprzak, owner of Andrew Kasprzak Farm in Little Valley, New York, thinks his efforts to win the Dairy of Distinction honor are “nothing too extravagant” yet he’s happy to receive the award.
“It was one of my life goals for the farm,” Kasprzak said. “I try to keep the buildings all painted and looking nice and things picked up. My grandpa has a few flower beds and keeps up on mowing the lawn.”
Kasprzak, the only employee at the farm, is a self-billed “one-man show.” Wearing so many hats keeps him plenty busy. While his grandfather Wayne Kent keeps pace with the landscaping — volunteer help he deeply appreciates — Kasprzak maintains the farm’s buildings, including the free stall barn with a swing four parlor. He also tends his herd of 40 milking cows as well as 40 replacement heifers that he raises.
All summer long, he also grows 70 acres of corn and 120 of hay but purchases his grain. The herd grazes all summer on 40 acres of “average” pasture, he said.
By diligently keeping the cows scrupulously clean, Kasprzak has kept the herd’s somatic-cell count between 85,000 to 150,000. He gets about 50 pounds of milk per cow on average “without pushing them too hard,” he said.
He ships his herd’s milk to Saputo, a processor in Quebec, Canada.
Kasprzak tries to balance the three main aspects of dairy profitability: cow comfort, production levels and lowered costs to keep his income consistent, with the help of a nutritionist, although his vet recently retired and he has yet to find a new vet for the herd.
Kasprzak believes that keeping overhead as low as possible helps keep dairies profitable, which is part of the reason that he is the farm’s only employee. The cost of wages represents a sizable chunk of many farms’ overhead that reduces profitability.
“And pray,” he added, to help with the unpredictable and uncontrollable aspects of farming, like weather that can affect profitability.
For example, his farm is experiencing a slight shortage of feed this year because the corn harvest was poor in spots on his farm. Although he planted his crop on time in the spring, the wet weather hampered his efforts in achieving the size of corn harvest to which he’s accustomed and which he needs to know he can easily keep the herd well fed all winter. The corn shortage may mean he could need to purchase more feed this winter, which adds to the farm’s overhead.
This winter, he wants to “get himself in gear,” he said, to install the stall structures he purchased last spring. He thinks the upgrade will help him to increase cow comfort for the herd and improve the herd’s production numbers.
He hopes to transition his entire herd to registered Holsteins some day, another move that should increase production over breeds that produce less milk.
He and his wife, Brooke, have a daughter, Addison, and are expecting another girl soon.