Finding the Sweet Spot in the Dairy Industry
Dairy Focus Consultant: Steve Halahan
- 3rd generation family farm; established in 1935
- Opened a dairy store in 2004 to sell milk, cheese, yogurt, and most recently Happy Holstein Ice Cream
- Operate an agri-tourism business where their farm operation is completely open to the public to visit
In 2002, Layne Klein thought his dairy career was over when a cow rolled onto his leg, breaking it, and leaving him with months’ worth of healing and worry ahead. After the accident, the future of the dairy became unclear; Klein’s decided to sell their milking cows, but kept their heifers, giving Layne time to heal and recover. Being the 3rd generation on the farm, Layne knew that his passion remained working with animals. In a few short years, Layne and his wife, Beth, slowly began to grow their herd as their heifers matured, and new calves were born. They quickly realized they needed a market for their milk and began the process of selling dairy products.
In 2004, they opened their own on-farm dairy store for customers to come, visit and buy their products. They quickly transformed from only selling milk to creating cheeses and yogurt products as well, making all their dairy goods in house. For years, customers kept asking the Klein’s to add ice cream to their store. In 2016 they gave their fans what they wanted by opening Happy Holstein Ice Cream, along with a brand new store. Layne shared, “What gives me the most satisfaction for what I do as a dairy farmer is creating a great product and watching our customers leave our store happy.”
Klein Farms has worked with Cargill and Dairy Focus Consultant (DFC), Steve Halahan, for the last three years on their nutrition program. “The nutrition of our cows is critical to making a good, quality product,” stated Layne. It was Layne’s son, Jacob, that originally thought to bring Steve on farm as a consultant. Steve would regularly stop in to check on Klein’s and built a trusting relationship with the family. Steve offered them the ability to have a nutritionist on farm every other week, something they had not had before. Since working with Cargill, Klein Farms has seen healthier cows, better components, and lower somatic cell counts throughout their herd.
“We have a trusting relationship with Steve,” commented Layne. “He knows his job and does it well, while also listening to our needs.” Through creating healthier cows producing high components, Cargill has helped Klein Farms continue to create superior quality products, keeping their customers happy and coming back for more.
Klein Farms has built themselves the unique ability to engage with the community and create an agri-tourism business on their farm. Besides selling their products in the dairy store they also sell other local made goods, which promotes and supports neighboring businesses. Their farm is also 100% open to the public and offers the family a great opportunity to teach their customers about agriculture. By embracing an open farm concept, Klein Farms has been able to build a strong and loyal customer base that is always willing to support them. “We turn out a great product and always make things right, and I think that is why the customers continue to be loyal and happy and come back time after time,” reflected Layne.
When asked about why he believes Klein Farms has been successful in an otherwise difficult economy Layne replied, “We aren’t in a great spot for farming, but we are in a great spot to do what we do, educating the public and selling a great product.”