Mary Mackinson Faber is the fifth generation of her family to be involved in her family’s dairy farm in central Illinois, Mackinson Dairy Farm, which is home to a herd of Ayrshires. Mary enjoys being an “ag-vocate” and keeps a blog and facebook page dedicated to sharing the real story of dairy and agriculture. She has completed her second series of “Women in Ag” profiles, and is allowing Cowsmo to share these profiles with you!To read more about Mackinson Dairy Farm, and Mary’s story, please visit her blog page and follow her on Facebook.
November 3, 2015: Alicia Lamb, Oakfield Corners Dairy, Oakfield, NY
Alicia grew up in Plant City, FL, a small town east of Tampa and currently resides in western New York with her husband and one year old daughter. Alicia entered into the dairy industry at 9 years old via her 4-H project which eventually blossomed into showing, judging, dairy bowl and demonstrations / public speaking. While her family is from a predominantly non-agricultural background, they did raise a few head of beef cows in a cow/calf type operation. Alicia studied animal/dairy science at the University of Florida, and met Jonathan, now her husband.
Upon graduation, Alicia and Jonathan moved to western NY and she began working with a dairy nutrition company. Currently, she is a full-time independent dairy nutrition and management consultant with Advanced Dairy Services in WNY. Alicia also assists on the farm as time allows with the marketing and genetics division of the farm, Lamb Farms Inc./Oakfield Corners Dairy.
Alicia is actively involved with many organizations, serving on the Executive Committees for the NY Holstein Association, National Holstein Women’s Scholarship Organization and National Dairy Shrine. She also has served as a local 4-H and Holstein Club advisor for youth in their county. Outside of the cows, Alicia enjoys traveling especially to the beach/warmer climates, college football, and wine. They are members of different wine clubs and enjoy trying varieties from different wineries, this sounds like my kind of club!
Alicia’s Story in her own words:
What is your role in the dairy industry?
After graduation from the University of Florida, I began working with a regional feed mill in a supporting role for on-farm nutritionists. As I learned more about feeding cows, I moved into a nutrition role for the company before moving to an independent consulting firm. I am a nutrition and management consultant for mostly larger farms in western NY. I generate rations for the farms and work with producers and on-farm personnel to ensure that feed is properly managed and delivered to the herd. I also provide guidance with management strategies like culling, pen moves, stall/barn design, etc.
When did you start farming?
I have never worked directly for Lamb Farms, but as a dairy farmer’s wife, have always helped out as needed/able with different tasks, from milking for a few hours, to feeding calves, to administering treatments, etc. My current role is primarily with the genetics and marketing division. For the first 9 months of 2015, Oakfield Corners Dairy implanted ~3500 embryos via IVF and conventional flushing, placed ~25 bulls into AI and sold ~200 high profile show type and GTPI females. I am actively involved with showing, sales selection, tours, print ads, and social media for Oakfield Corners Dairy. I also help with some of the behind the scenes tracking of sale prices, bull contracts, etc.
What is your favorite dairy product?
I love cheese, nearly any variety in any form. I regularly eat cheese as a snack, and it’s always good to pair with a nice bottle of wine!
Who is your favorite cow?
Oakfield Outside Brynn 2E-93…she was a cow I bred that was the sweetest natured creature and helped build our genetic marketing program. She was bred for the show ring and we have been able to work with many of her high type daughters. But she also had some index behind her that allowed us to market sons and grandsons into AI, and some of her daughters and grand-daughters sold well in the index market.
Our genetics program is geared towards Holsteins (B&W and R&W), but I have a soft spot for jerseys. My first few show animals were jerseys, and I’m hoping that when my daughter is old enough, she will have one or two to work with herself.
What is the most rewarding part of being in the dairy industry? Challenging?
Regardless of your role in the dairy industry, it is very challenging when milk prices are low. Producers get very nervous when they are losing thousands of dollars daily and eating into their equity. In my specific field of nutrition, it is extremely challenging when weather conditions don’t allow for proper forage planting and/or harvesting which greatly influences production. It is always rewarding to know when you’ve assisted the farm and they see an improvement in cow health and/or production.
What advice would you give someone interested in the dairy industry?
I think if you’re interested in working in the dairy industry, it helps to have a strong networking system. Start in college by being active with the animal science and dairy clubs and have good relationships with your professors. Intern with a few different companies to determine what sector you are most interested in, then use that to help focus your career. I think it’s important to be willing to start at the very bottom doing whatever job you can to build experience, then use that experience to fight your way to higher roles. Most importantly, you need to be genuine when working with producers…dairy farmers are very hard-working individuals and they are able to see through any smokescreens.
What do you envision the future of the dairy industry looking like?
I think the trends in the dairy industry will continue as they are today…farms will need to expand and improve management to remain competitive or diversify. In the northeast, I don’t know that there will be a lot of expansion/increase in cow numbers because there isn’t much land available. However the producers currently in operation will need to be even more fiscally responsible. The forecast looks as if extreme milk prices will continue and become even more extreme over time.