Published: April 4, 2023

Category: Organic News

When you have an opportunity to inherit a 320-acre farm with little infrastructure that’s belonged to the family for over 100 years—what to do with it?

Carrie and Derek Redden used it to manifest a farming dream. Raising beef cows and chickens as a hobby had piqued a desire to build an organic dairy farm—even though neither of them had grown up on a farm. Today Twelve Tails Family Farm in Stevens County, MN produces organic milk for Organic Valley.

“It was encouraging to see that there were people farming who didn’t grow up on a farm,” Carrie said. “They may have been doing it a little differently, but they were doing it.”

Conversion to organic began in 2015. The Reddens planted vegetative cover for grazing on 115 acres, adding perennial crops for animals to feed on and distribute fertilizer. “Our current pasture mix has seven varieties of seed including alfalfa, orchard grass, tall fescue, and meadow fescue,” said Carrie.

The couple began breeding heifers in 2017 and built a milking facility; by June 2018, the first cows were milked. October 2022 milk sold for $31.57 per CWT; this year’s milk has brought $3 more.

Ten pastures range from 7 to 15 acres, holding 35 crossbreed cows including Holstein, Jersey, Montbéliarde, Normandy, and Viking Red. A Fleckvieh bull is being bred for meat production. Grazing occurs 175 days per year, with nearly 100% of the diet being pasture.

“To care for the land and animals has such an intrinsic value for us,” Carrie says. “It’s also an amazing way to raise a family. The experiences the four of us have had working together—even during the hard times—has shown us how resilient we are.”

Source: Agriculture

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Organic & Non-GMO Insights April 2023