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Producing Excellence

Eldon Eberly

Waynesboro, GA

Eberly Family Dairy

Products: Dairy

Size of Operation: 650 producing cows, 1,200 total head

In Business Since: 1995

Farm Credit Partner: AgGeorgia Farm Credit

Working with Farm Credit Since: 2012

Eldon Eberly has a specific goal: build his dairy herd to 800 milking cows to fill his two new state-of-the-art barns. He also has a plan to achieve his goal by year-end through purchasing cows and retaining his own herd’s female young. That’s not bad considering they were recently completed in early 2015, with financing from AgGeorgia Farm Credit.

“I was shopping around and liked Farm Credit’s focus on agriculture. I could tell they invest a lot of time in understanding ag, and dairy in particular,” Eldon says. “Building these barns was probably the biggest undertaking in my life to this point, and Farm Credit has worked with me through the ups and downs of the construction project.”

The reason Eldon wants to expand his operation is just as straightforward as his goal: he has two sons who want to join him, and the dairy needs to be profitable enough to support them. “There’s no other place I’d rather be and my sons feel the same way,” he says. “I’m proud and pleased to have them, and I wanted to be big enough to include them.”

These sons, ages 21 and 23, will be joining in the hard work it takes to run a thriving dairy. Eldon’s milking parlor handles 40 cows at a time, which translates to a five hour shift per milking…and they milk three times a day. In addition to the family, Eldon has eight full-time employees to handle the job, many of whom have been with him for years. “It’s hard work, with early mornings and long days,” he says. “We try to take care of our employees and make sure they’re treated well. They’re an important part of our operation.”

The barns aren’t all about increasing his herd size. They also enable Eldon to better care for the animals, keeping them out of the sun and heat in a clean environment with open access to feed and water. “Before, my cows were outside all day and in the summer that could be hard on them,” he says. “Now they’re completely pampered – they can lay down, eat, drink, and lay down some more. And they’re clean, which has helped their health, too.” As a bonus, better cow comfort translates to better production, and Eldon’s cows are averaging 80 pounds a day, which is a 10 pound increase over last year, and he anticipates they will increase to 90 pounds over time. He’s also decreased his feed costs by about 10 percent, and is able to capture and process the manure to use as fertilizer on his land.

Planning ahead for his sons to take over his dairy operation is about more than growth – in addition to his accountant, Eldon anticipates that AgGeorgia Farm Credit will also be involved in his succession planning. “When you are thinking about your sons’ future, no detail is too small.Succession planning is comprehensive and you want to make sure you have input from all angles.”

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