Farming for the family
Dairy farming is not a common practice in Marion County. For Jason Wiebe, of Jason Wiebe Dairy, it’s in his blood.
“My dad worked the dairy before me, so it never stopped,” he said.
While there are fewer competitors in the county now, Wiebe doesn’t see that as an advantage.
“It’d be more negative than positive,” he said. “All the supporting industry, the milk markets, we’re already low enough.”
Similar to the decrease in dairies, the number of suppliers has gone down.
“All the dairy supply people, they get fewer and fewer dairies,” Wiebe said. “Our main service now is an hour and 15 minutes away. As the dairies go down, it’s harder for them to keep going or supply as much service.”
Wiebe tries not to become attached to the cattle because of their limited lifespan, but there was one who was extremely friendly, he said.
“She was tame and most of the cattle are not as much,” he said. “They’re nervous enough that they’ll walk off.”
Instead of sending her off when she neared death, one of the farm hands took her to live her last days with him.
There are two types of proteins present in cow’s milk, and the Wiebes use these to determine which cows to breed. Scientists sometimes regard the A1 protein as more difficult to digest, so Wiebe breeds mainly cows with A2 proteins.
“We’re weaning out the A1,” he said. “In the not-too-distant future, we hope to be able to do strictly A2.”
Wiebe’s herd features 120 cattle of different breeds, and almost all are crossbred. He believes it makes them stronger because certain breeds have different strong points.
One of the primary concerns for Wiebe is that the cows are cared for properly.
A pulsation milking system is used to help keep the cows relaxed during the process, he said.
“If it hurt the cow, it would cause problems with the milk,” Wiebe said.
If the cows are uncomfortable during the process, there can be complications with infections, or an increase in the number of white blood cells.
Last modified Oct. 11, 2018