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Producing Excellence

John Hansen

Rupert, ID

Hansen Quality Jerseys

Rupert, ID

Type of Operation: Dairy and feed crops

Size of Operation: 1,100 head and 2,200 acres

In Business Since: 1987

Farm Credit Partner: Idaho Ag Credit

Working with Farm Credit Since: 2004

The sun isn’t yet over the horizon when work starts at Hansen Quality Jerseys, a sizeable dairy operation in Idaho. In fact, work there never really stops.

“It’s a round-the-clock operation,” says John Hansen, a 3rd generation dairyman. Each day starts with the first milking beginning at 4 a.m. and continuing until 9. Three employees manage this process, then clean the dairy and head home, only to return at 4 p.m. and start over again. Another employee spends the night caring for the calves and being on-call for any problems that might arise.

Milking 1,100 head in five hours is quite an undertaking, and has been made possible by the new rotary milker John just installed, a long-term plan brought to fruition with financing from Idaho ACA. This more efficient method can milk 50 cows at once, compared with the 18 cows he was able to milk before, a process that took more than 11 hours. This reduces his labor costs, and is also an easier system to use. “It’s easier to train labor, and if someone doesn’t show up for some reason, someone else can take over easily,” he says. Given that John has increased the size of his herd since he took over the family’s operation in 1987 – he started with just 250 cows, and bought 500 this year – this efficiency is essential for his long-term success.

Each of these cows produces 52 pounds of milk every day of the year, and as Jersey cows, produce milk with higher fat and protein content compared with the typical, black and white Holstein cows. This earns him a premium when he sells the milk to nearby Gossner Foods, which uses it to make Swiss cheese.

Another key part of his operation is the 2,200 acres he farms, raising hay, corn and grain. All of his crops are used to feed his cattle, making the operation more self-sufficient. Nine people help throughout the year, with an additional four in the summer months contributing to the operation’s success. One of these is his nephew, Dayne. His two sons, Tate and Treg, also plan to join the operation, and his wife, Vickie, manages the books and the Dairy Herd Information Association. “The entire family is involved,” says John. To make sure that the next generation will be able to support their eventual families, John plans to continue expanding his herd.

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