MARSHALLVILLE, Ohio — The Wayne County Dairy Service Unit kicked off its 50th anniversary with a big party for its friends — and 1,800 of them turned out for the group’s annual Dairy Twilight Tour.
This year, John and Lois Douglass and family hosted the tour July 19 at Bristol Dairy, the newest of the three dairy operations the family owns.
The Douglasses purchased Bristol Dairy from Ed and Bonnie Stoll in October 2010, and cows were back in the barns by January 2011.
The family also owns Catalpadale Dairy in Marshallville, and Coral Hill Dairy in Glasgow, Ky.
John, Lois, and their children, Sarah, Tyler and Zach, are the second and third generation to be involved in the dairy business.
John’s father, Wendell, and his brother-in-law, Don Weygandt, started Catalpadale Farm in 1958. As the farm grew, the operation included John and his cousin, Robert, and operated under the name of Douglass and Weygandt, Inc.
In 1988, John and Lois purchased his uncle’s interest in the business and continued to expand the business until 1995, when John and Lois purchased Wendell’s interest in the business.
“Dad gave me the opportunity to get into the dairy business full-time, and he turned it over to us to take care of the dairy operation,” John said.
Coral Hill Dairy was added in 1999 and managed by two former employees from Catalpadale. This dairy has 1,150 cows milked in a double 25 parallel parlor and housed in free stalls with fans and misters. At Coral Hill Dairy, cows are bedded with recycled sand and manure solids are separated through a slope screen separator.
The 900 acres of crop ground are custom farmed by Steiner Custom Farming of Marshallville.
The Ohio farms have a combined total of 3,500 milk cows and 500 dry cows, plus replacement animals. The dry cows and bred heifers are housed at Catalpadale and calves stay on the farm until four months of age when they are sent to another farm or to a neighboring farmer who custom raises heifers for the farm.
At Catalpadale Farm, the cows are milked in a double 24 parallel parlor. This parlor started out as a double eight herringbone built in 1992 following a fire that destroyed most of the existing parlor. It was expanded to a double 24 in 2002. Catalpadale uses sand and sawdust for bedding in the free stall barns.
The Bristol Dairy features a double 40 parallel parlor installed in 2010 in the existing parlor. They used the existing cooling system, but added new equipment and walls in the parlor. Freestalls are bedded with recycled sand.
Both dairies use fans and misters and have installed rubber matting in the cow lanes, holding pens and parlors.
The Douglasses farm 3,200 acres, raising corn and alfalfa as well as wheat double cropped with corn. They feed a TMR of corn silage, haylage, wet brewers’ grain, dry hay, whole cottonseed, citrus pulp, soybean meal, wheat middlings, soy hulls and a vitamin/mineral mix.
Currently, they employ 60 full-time and five part-time employees.
Also on hand was OSU Extension Dairy Specialist Normand St.-Pierre, who told the group that the twilight tour was a testament to the strength of the dairy industry in northeast Ohio.
“You may not have the best land, and you may not have the best cows, but you have a competitive advantage,” he said. “You have the equipment and service people, as well as a dairy culture in the region. Dairy has a large economic impact in the state.”
Art Stoller, president of the Wayne County Dairy Service Unit Board said that the twilight tour is beneficial because it opens up local dairy farms to the community.
“It is a night for farmers to get together and fellowship,” he said. “It is a chance for them to see people they don’t see otherwise. It is a chance to see new things and how other people do things.”