Maryland Dairy Farm Wins Dairying for Tomorrow Award
Misty Meadow Farm is owned by David and Betsy Herbst and their family. Their daughter Jeni and her husband Justin Malott, along with their son Andrew Herbst and his wife Jacklyn, and their daughter Kimberly West, work together on the farm where they milk 150 cows and raise crops on their 800 acres. Jeni and Andrew are working together to form an LLC to take over the farm from their parents. The family also operates Misty Meadow Farm Creamery where they market their own milk, ice cream, eggs and meat. David and Betsy’s grandchildren are the fifth generation on their farm.
The Dairying for Tomorrow award recognizes local dairy farmers who implement on-farm practices that will sustain the dairy industry now and into the future. The awards are given in three categories: animal care, community and consumer outreach, and environmental stewardship. Misty Meadow Farm received the award for its exceptional animal care practices.
Caring for the animals is a team effort at Misty Meadow Farm, and each family member plays an integral role. Jeni oversees animal care, the overall herd health program and milking. Justin and Andrew share the responsibility of feeding and bedding the animals and oversee the crops. Kimberly works at the creamery and occasionally helps with milking.
“We take care of our animals because we love what we do. We feel honored to receive this award, and we’re grateful to be recognized for what we do every day,” Jeni said.
Animal care has always been important at Misty Meadow, but according to Jeni, they began to hone-in on animal care over the past few years. “We pay close attention to what the cows are telling us,” said Jeni. “Several years ago, we sold 10 cows to keep from getting overcrowded. Even though we had fewer cows, we had more milk in the bulk tank. That’s when we realized the cows will let us know when they are comfortable.”
All animals at Misty Meadow receive top-notch care from birth. “We want to give our calves the best possible start in life,” Jeni said. Newborn calves are placed in an incubator after birth, then have their navels dipped, are given a First Defense pill and one gallon of colostrum. All colostrum is tested to ensure its quality and colostrum replacer is given to calves who need it. Calves are raised in individual pens in a greenhouse and are given fresh bedding every day.
Once calves are weaned, they are moved to group housing and heifers nine months of age and older are housed in bedded back barns with access to pasture. Heifer barns are bedded twice a week to ensure the animals stay clean and dry.
Jeni has implemented a progressive calf care protocol for dehorning, teat removal and tagging that was developed in consultation with the herd veterinarian. At two weeks of age, calves are disbudded using paste, ear tagged and if needed, have extra teats removed. During these procedures, calves are given a sedative and analgesic to reduce stress on the calf. Afterwards, calves are given the pain reliver Meloxicam during their next feeding.
Milk cows are housed in a freestall barn and stalls are regularly groomed and bedded to keep the animals clean. Rubber mats are in place along the feedbunks to provide added cushion to the cows when they eat. When hoof trimming, lidocaine is used on cows with any hoof problem for pain management.
With animal care at the forefront of dairy customers and consumers, Misty Meadow works closely with their herd veterinarian to monitor the herd health and maintain a valid Veterinary Client Patient Relationship, a requirement as part of the Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM)Animal Care Program. Misty Meadow also has written standard operating producers for their milking, calf care and other animal-care related protocols.
Misty Meadow Farm and the Creamery often gives tours to school groups and community organizations. By demonstrating a positive dairy image and optimal animal care, the family has gained the trust and confidence in their community. According to Jeni, “We want our farm to be FARM ready every day.”
“We always look at ways to improve and to do what is best for our animals to ensure our farm’s longevity in the dairy industry,” Jeni said.
“We are most thankful that we are able to raise our children on the farm,” Jeni said. “We enjoy working outside and working with our children and teaching them how to care for another life. There’s nothing more rewarding than that.” she added.
Congratulations to Misty Meadow for being named a Dairying for Tomorrow award winner!
Visit "Our Farmers" page to learn more about Misty Meadow Farm.
The Herbst and Malott family accepted their Dairying for Tomorrow Award at the Maryland State Fair flanked by supporters from the American Dairy Association North East and Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative. (L-R) Sherry Patterson (ADA North East Board Member), Justin and Jeni Malott and daughters Ella, Vivian, Jillian, and Addison (not pictured), David and Betsy Herbst, Daniela Roland (Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative).