Lanphears run Vermont’s top dairy farm

HYDE PARK — The Lanphear Family Farm, a 530-cow Holstein dairy in Hyde Park, has been named the 2016 Vermont Dairy Farm of the Year. The award is presented annually by University of Vermont Extension and the Vermont Dairy Industry Association in cooperation with the New England Green Pastures Program to an exemplary Vermont dairy farm.
This farm, owned by Kirk and Katrina Lanphear, was recognized for its well-managed herd, high-quality milk production, sound management practices and strong work ethics.
The couple bought the farm in 2007 from Kirk’s parents, Russell and Judy Lanphear, after working in partnership with them for several years. Today they milk 440 cows in a double-16 herringbone parlor twice daily.
Their rolling herd average is 22,000 pounds with 3.85 percent butterfat and 3.11 percent protein. They ship to the St. Albans Cooperative and have won numerous awards for their high quality milk production including the co-op’s annual quality recognition award for the past 23 consecutive years.
Unlike most Vermont farms, they do not raise their own replacements, a decision that saves them money on labor, housing, herd health and related costs of raising heifers. It also fits their philosophy of managing the farm economically and efficiently while keeping family first and foremost.
All four of their children — Chelsea, 22; Carrie, 19; Lucas, 18; and Keith, 15 — have been involved in the farm operation with the boys helping out on a daily basis with the cows, crops, equipment maintenance and other tasks to learn everything they can about managing the farm. They, along with Skylar Poleio, a 10-year employee who the Lanphears consider a son, have expressed interest in taking over the farm in the future.
The farmers grow all their own forages with 350 acres of corn, yielding an average of 22 to 25 tons per acre of silage; 150 acres of alfalfa/clover, yielding 10 tons per acre; and 200 acres of grass, producing seven to 10 tons.
Five years ago they switched from conventional corn to BMR varieties (brown midrib corn, a new corn silage) to grow a higher-yield, higher-quality forage for their cows’ ration that contains more starch and digestible neutral detergent fiber. They also incorporated an alfalfa/grass mix into their feeding program last year. The result has been improved herd health, feed-cost savings and higher milk production.
Their success also can be attributed to good conservation practices. All of their fields are soil tested each year. A pre-sidedress nitrogen test is done before sidedressing to determine the plants’ nitrogen needs. Some of their 950 tillable acres are along the Lamoille River and its tributaries, requiring strict adherence to conservation guidelines, including creating buffers to prevent nutrient run-off from fields into waterways.
The Lanphears will be honored at an awards banquet at Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, Mass., in September, along with the Green Pastures Program winners from the other New England states, and at the Vermont Farm Show in Essex Junction in January.
Other finalists for this year’s award, listed alphabetically, were Earl and Susan Fournier, Swanton; Brad and Jill Thomas, Shoreham; and Loren and Gail Wood, Shoreham.

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