By Sarah Mahan of This Farm Family's Life
Kuehnert Dairy Farm is a fifth generation dairy located in Fort Wayne, Indiana. "There are currently four generations at the farm on a daily basis," according to Sarah Kuehnert. Her husband, Nathan and his brother Andrew make up the fifth generation. Their children, Allie, 4 and Bryar, 2 are the potential sixth generation to carry on the "dairying legacy."
Nathan's Grandfather Melvin is at the farm every day and is their "do anything man". He performs daily tasks like driving tractors and repairing equipment. However, his favorite job is giving is great-grandchildren a ride on his ATV. Sarah states, "My father-in-law Alan and Nathan's uncle, Stan manage all the daily functions on the dairy from feeding the cows to harvesting the crops. My mother-in-law Cindy feeds all the baby calves every day, with the help of myself, sister-in-law Brittany, and Allie and Bryar, of course! My husband's main duty is helping to keep the cows healthy and happy by providing the proper care and administering the right medications. My brother-in-law, Andrew, is in charge of the nutrition, ensuring that the cows get a balanced diet every single day. We are also very lucky to have some young men who work with us that are like family: Kyle Walters, Luke Hesterman, Colten Brown, and Austin Bridgewater."
The Kuehnerts currently milk 270 registered Holsteins with 330 heifers under two years of age. They are bottle feeding 30 heifer calves less than two months of age. A heifer is a young cow that has not yet given birth. They also farm a total of 850 acres of corn, alfalfa, soybeans, and rye. The majority of the crops they produce go to feeding the cows. An adult cow will consume up to 90 pounds of feed per day and drink up to 30-50 gallons of water a day.
As a dairy farmer, Registered Dietitian, and a mother, Sarah knows how important it is to get at least three servings of dairy every day. "It all starts with milk," she explains. "We drink it. We use it as an ingredient and we make a lot of other products from it. I believe it is important for people of all ages to know the importance of milk in their daily lives. One eight ounce glass of milk provides these minimum daily allowances: 30% calcium, 25% vitamin D, 24% Riboflavin, 16% protein, 13% vitamin B12, 11% Potassium, 10% vitamin A, and 10% Niacin. That's just one 8-ounce glass! Milk is not just a cool, nutritious, thirst-quenching drink; it is truly one of nature's purest gifts."
When asked to share a story about her kids on the farm Sarah explained, "Dairy farming is a full seven day, 100 hour work week. The cows must always have fresh feed in front of them, clean and dry bedding, and be milked three times a day here at Kuehnert Dairy. With this in mind, it is hard to take a vacation. Like most families, we enjoy time at the lake, but find it difficult to make it to the lake, so we brought the lake to us. We built a two and a half acre pond that we call Lake Kuehnert! During the summer days, we make time to spend a couple hours together with the entire family fishing, boating or swimming in our pond. Lake Kuehnert has helped to make some of our most enjoyable times for my children and creates wonderful memories for generations to cherish."
"Dairy farmers know the future depends on what we do today, so we are devoted to producing wholesome, nutritious milk as well as compassionate animal care and sound environmental stewardship. With the current drought conditions in Indiana, we are facing a huge challenge to produce enough feed for our cows. The dry conditions are not only affecting the beauty of your lawns, flowers, and landscaping, but it is affecting our ability to operate our family's dairy operation. We work diligently every day to make wise business decisions so that we can continue to produce our world with food however; this occupation of farming depends highly on the weather. We keep our faith in God and know that he will provide. Here at Kuehnert Dairy we are very privileged to have four generations working together daily to produce you with nature's most perfect food, milk! We take great pride in the work we do to provide you with the purest, most high quality, and nutritious milk that we can. This is all possible by maintaining a healthy, happy cow."