Milking cows is a family affair for Vaughans

Brothers (and wives) feel welcome in S.D. after move

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The Vaughan Family Dairy of Bancroft, S.D. is bringing a bit of New York to the South Dakota prairies.

As 8th generation farmers who have worked on a dairy all their lives, brothers Kenn and Paul Vaughan bring a wealth of knowledge to their dairy operation. Originally upstate New York dairy farmers, they felt the need to expand their wings and came to South Dakota a little over two years ago. Originally, Kenn and his wife Rebecca came to start the operation. Brother Paul and his wife Rachel followed in March of this year.

“We milk twice a day, usually at 5:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.,” said Kenn. “A truck from Land O’ Lakes comes every other day and takes our milk to the Lake Norden plant where it is converted into cheese, butter and other dairy products.”

Kenn also shared the role the rest of his family play in running their dairy farm.

“On our dairy, we all work together. Even the children get in on the action on a daily basis,” he said. “...It’s been really helpful to me since Paul has moved here. It used to take me a minimum of four hours to milk, but we have added some cows and cut down the milking time to three hours.”

Paul and Kenn both agree that you need to plan your days according to the milking schedule.

“You need to be consistent,” said Paul.

The Vaughan family currently milks around 110 cows a day. They average 3,500 pounds of milk per milking for approximately 7,000 pounds of milk per day.

“We can currently store our milk for three days, if for some reason the truck can’t make it out,” said Kenn. “Sometimes blizzards and poor roads make it difficult, that’s for sure.”

Holstein cows make up the majority of the herd. Paul and Kenn both agree that it’s the breed they prefer to work with.

“We like a more average-sized animal, around 1,200-1,300 pounds,” said the brothers. “Also, the Holstein breed is very into genetic testing. They have run tests on everything from production to legs and longevity.”

The Vaughan family retains many of the heifer calves they raise and do their own artificial insemination work on the cows.

“Our cows are on a 305-day cycle which means they produce milk for those days and then have 60 days off. Usually our cows will last anywhere from seven to eight years in production.”

The Vaughans have been enjoying South Dakota thus far.

“Moving here wasn’t such a hard transition,” Rebecca and Rachel agreed. “We are country folk, and that’s what we enjoy most about this area. People are so friendly; we are happy to be part of the community.”

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