Darryl Williams is happy to share the secret to success on a dairy farm, and no, it isn’t new-fangled equipment or a mysterious scientific formula.
It’s caring for your herd.
“We all care for our cows pretty deeply,” he explains. “I’ve seen those commercials about happy cows in California, but let me tell you, we all want happy cows. Happy cows give good milk.”
Darryl can attest to the power of a contented cow. Seventeen generations of Daryl’s family have worked the land on Luther Belden Farm in Hatfield, MA. The place was deeded to ancestor Samuel Belden in 1661 by Massachusetts Governor Simon Bradstreet and over the centuries its owners raised sheep and at various times grew onions, broom corn, potatoes, beets, cucumbers and tobacco. In 1963, Darryl’s parents decided to take up dairy farming.
Today, Darryl runs the farm with his wife, Lucinda, and son, Jackson. The Williams have a 120-cow milking herd, and the total acreage (some is rented) includes 300 acres in the fertile Pioneer Valley. Almost 65 percent of what his cows eat is grown on the farm.
“One of the strengths of this farm is its land,” says Darryl. Thanks to ancient sediment runoff from the nearby Connecticut River, the Pioneer Valley has some of the richest soil in the country.
Working alongside Darryl is Jackson, proud to be the 17th generation on the farm. Jackson majored in biology in college, and traveled a bit before returning home to the farm. As he points out, “Dairy farming really is applied biology!”
According to Darryl, it all comes down to keeping those bovines happy. “Yes, you want cool, calm and collected cows,” he says, giving one of them a gentle pat. “We know the happier the animals, the better the quality of the milk.”
Happy cows, he says, “are in the best interest of the cows and the best interest of the consumer.”
*To satisfy our consumers, our farmers pledge not to use artificial growth hormones. Click here for more information.