Lancaster farming. (Lancaster, Pa., etc.) 1955-current, June 03, 2000, Image 180

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    EtLancasler Fanning, Saturday, Juna 3, 2000
Peachey Family Finds Contentment in Farming
Melvin and Judy Peachey of Belleville stand with their children, Tonya, Colton, and
Michael, beside one of Judy’s favorite hobbies - flower gardening. The children are the
fifth generation to live on this farm.
Mifflin Co. Correspondent
Co.) Life is good on the
Melvin and Judy Peachey
dairy farm in the heart of Big
Valley, Mifflin County.
Production is consistently
one of the highest in the coun
ty. The kids are healthy. The
Glenn Shirk
Lancaster Co. Dairy Ext. Agent
The dairy industry in Lan
caster County is undergoing a
major transition, characterized
by a more free market econo
my, mergers, alliances, expan
sions, niche marketing, special
ization, more contractual
agreements, and a rapid adop
tion of new technologies.
Agri-businesses are seeing
who they can merge with or
team up with to secure their
share of the market, to become
more etficient and to improve
customer’s service.
A similar move is taking
place at the farm level. Many
farms are expanding herd size
in an effort to spread some of
their fixed capital costs over
more cows to enable them to
purchase in bulk and negotiate
better prices, to improve labor
efficiency and increase milk
output per worker.
Some are trying to reduce
marketing costs and improve
milk prices by producing
enough milk to fill a tanker
truck every 1-2 days. Being
larger, they can hire and train
teams of employees to become
experts at performing crucial
and specific tasks.
farm well cared for. Maybe
that’s why the farm is located
on Tranquil Lane.
“We give the Lord credit,”
said Judy. “He’s blessed us and
provided everything for us.”
Melvin’s chance to farm on
his home farm began four
generations earlier. His great
grandfather purchased the
Smaller, more traditional
farms, in the 40-100 cow size
and operated primarily with
family help, are finding it more
and more difficult to compete
with the well-managed, large
dairy operations; it’s hard for
them to be experts in cropping,
in herd health and nutrition, in
breeding and reproduction, in
milking systems and milk qual
ity, in marketing, and in finan
cial and business management.
Many of them are meeting
this challenge by specializing in
managing the milking cows
and arranging for someone
else to raise the heifers, har
vest the crops and haul the ma
nure. Many are relying upon
the advice of expert consul
tants to help them make the
right management decisions.
As an alternative to expan
sion. some producers are try
ing to improve cash flow by
adding more value to the milk
they produce. Some producers
are getting more involved in
processing their own milk, ei
ther individually or in conjunc
tion with other producers, and
servicing organic and other
niche markets or by selling
products directly to consumers
farm, and then Melvin’s grand
father started fanning in 1926.
Melvin’s father, Rufus Pea
chey, helps to plant the farm’s
60 acres of com and 40 acres of
alfalfa while Melvin enjoys
concentrating on the cows.
Melvin and Judy milk 54
Holsteins (20 percent register
ed) three times a day.
Industry In
others become part-time farms
and rely on some non-farm in
come. Many choose to reduce
costs by relying heavily upon
intensive grazing.
In recent years, milk output
per cow has increased tremen
dously due in large part to; im
proved genetics, better nutri
tion, higher quality and more
digestible forages, improved
herd health and feeding prac
tices and more emphasis on
cow comfort
Dairying can be a good
“way of life” and a good place
to raise a family, but to attain
these benefits it must first be a
profitable business. The eco
nomic pressures and competi
tion that exists today is putting
severe stress on many farm
Dairy farmers are to be
commended for their opti
mism, their determination, and
their willingness to make nec
essary changes to improve the
viability of their business and
enhance the quality of life,
while also working hard to
protect the environment and
produce a quality food for all
to enjoy.
“We have 50 stanchions
now. I’d like to add 20 to 25
stalls in the next few years. We
like our tie stall. I never want
to milk more than 75 cows,”
Melvin said.
The tie-stall arrangement
enables Melvin to have TMR
feed in front of the cows at all
times. One group TMR has
greatly added to herd health
and production, especially late
lactation cows, with Melvin
having recently dried off sever
al cows milking 100+ pounds in
good body condition.
This greatly helps produc
tion, although he'd like to in
stall a stationary TMR mixer
in the future. Melvin mixes
half corn silage and half hay
lege (21 pounds) with high
moisture corn and protein. He
credits Russ Kline, a nutrition
ist with Agri-Basics, for his
herd’s quality feed program.
“He’s a good person to work
with,” Melvin said. “He pays
attention to details.”
“We put mattresses in a year
and a half ago,” Melvin contin
ued, “and started bedding the
cows with shavings. These
have really added to cow com
The idea to milk three times
a day simply cropped up one
afternoon three years ago
while Melvin and Judy were
milking. They went back out to
milk that same evening at
11:00 p.m. and haven’t re
gretted it. They now milk at
5:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., and 9:00
“It’s been easier on the
cows. They were leaking and
full,” Melvin said. “Our
2-year-olds milk a lot more
without wear on their udders.
It has helped our herd health.
Melvin and Judy prefer milking in their tie-stall bam.
They’d like to add 25 stalls in the future and increase
their herd to 75 cows.
8 JD 7000 aluminum press
wheels for 4 row, call after 6
pm or Saturdays, York Co.,
Old Massey Harris 30 w/out
wheels & tires, best offer
takes it, York Co , 717-292-
Produce wagon B’xl6’
w/20’ roof & fold up over
hang 6’x2o’ also shelves,
$BOO 080, Mont Co , 301-
We were on everyday pick-up.
Now, with a 2,000-gallon tank,
they come every other day. We
picked up 3,000 pounds milk
ing three times a day.”
“It’s nicer for the kids, too,”
Judy added. ‘We’re in the
house when they go to school
and when they come home.
One of us waits until they’re all
asleep at night (11:00 p.m.) be
fore going out to help milk.”
Judy milks both mornings
and afternoons and keeps the
books. She loves gardening,
flowers, and baking.
Their oldest son, Michael,
10, bottle-feeds the calves until
they’re five weeks old. He’s
also a member of the Mifflin
County 4-H Dairy Club.
Tonya, 8, and Colton, 5, enjoy
doing all the things that youn
ger children love to do on a
farm - plus a little housework.
Melvin loves tp read. He’d like
to fill the barn with purebreds
someday too.
“If you’re just selling milk,
it’s not worth it. If you’re sell
ing cows as a hobby, purebreds
are worth it,” said Melvin.
Melvin admits that buying
into a family farm is much easi
er than starting farming from
scratch. His goals now are to
buy the farm, debt free, and
stay up to date with the equip
“A farm is a great place to
raise children,” Judy said. ‘lt’s
nice working together here at
home. There are days we get
tired and have bad days like
everyone else, but we still like
“We’re paying the bills and
making a living besides,”
added Melvin.
What more could anyone
ask for on Tranquil Lane.
2 yr old purebred, limousm
bull, polled black, Mont
Co, MD, 301-253-5237
1985 19’ baylmer, open
bow, fishmg/ski boat,
125 HP, force 08, gal trail
er, $2,800, Franklin Co ,
Lathe maxi mac 10x26”
110 v, S.S milk tanker, no
wheels, rolled, doesn’t
leak, 4500 gal SS. 425
gal bulk tank, Lane Co,
Gravely 10A overhauled
ground plow. Gravely
sprayer cultivator, 1934
Chevy 12 ton truck, 1948
WC-AC front end loader
snowplow, Sch Co , 570-
Aerial ladder truck, 28' F
-500 Ford, $3,000 or ladder
unit only, easy transfer to
smaller truce, $1,200 080,
Berks Co, 610-693-5733
Farmall Super C, 2pt hitch,
$1,500, carrier, $lOO, plow,
$2OO, cultivators, $2OO,
mower, $2OO, shed kept,
Leb. Co., 717-274-1390