Home / Family / Women in Ag / Family / From pigs to parlor

From pigs to parlor

Agriculture.com Staff 07/07/2010 @ 9:08am

When Ted Miller steps into a lush pasture on his central Pennsylvania farm, he's mobbed by loyal fans -- the 60 Jersey and Holstein-Jersey cross cows of his grass-based seasonal dairy.

The scene is much more than a pretty picture. It's part of a methodical business plan that began forming when Ted was a boy living on an acreage in the neighboring county. The cows complement his other enterprise -- finishing 10,000 hogs annually on contract for Pleasant Valley Foods.

"I've got two things working together well," he says. The hogs are a high-return, low-labor business. The dairy herd takes labor and returns less at first. It looks like a good long-term investment. Unlike the hog finishing barns, pastures don't depreciate.

Ted, 27, and his wife, Melissa, 28, have been on this 112-acre farm near Ickesburg, Pennsylvania, three years.

When Ted Miller steps into a lush pasture on his central Pennsylvania farm, he's mobbed by loyal fans -- the 60 Jersey and Holstein-Jersey cross cows of his grass-based seasonal dairy.

Growing up in rural Juniata County, Pennsylvania, gave Ted a taste of farming. "I was really into 4-H pigs, and we had a couple of sows," he says. Every summer he worked on dairy farms and cleaned broiler houses.

Armed with real-world numbers, Ted and Melissa felt ready to plunge into farming by the year 2000 when they saw a farm near Ickesburg advertised in Lancaster Farming.

If it looks like there's a lot left over, there isn't. The Millers pay about $6,000 in health insurance from that revenue and the $26,700 mortgage payment on the rest of the farm.

"From a low-cost production standpoint, he was just blowing everybody else out of the water," Ted says. The farmer was netting $500 per cow.

CancelPost Comment
MORE FROM AGRICULTURE.COM STAFF more +

Farm and ranch risk management resources By: 07/07/2010 @ 9:10am Government resources USDA Risk Management Agency Download free insurance program and…

Major types of crop insurance policies By: 07/07/2010 @ 9:10am Crop insurance for major field crops comes in two types: yield-based coverage that pays an…

Marketing 101 - Are options the right tool… By: 07/07/2010 @ 9:10am "If you are looking for a low risk way to protect yourself against prices moving either higher or…

MEDIA CENTERmore +
This container should display a .swf file. If not, you may need to upgrade your Flash player.
Soil Health at Farm Science Review