What do you love most about being a dairy farmer? Why?
I like the cycle of farming, from raising young stock into mature cows. I still get excited when a new calf is born.
What is the best piece of advice that you have received from a fellow dairy farmer?
“Look after the cows & they will look after you”.
What is the biggest challenge in dairy farming today?
In our area there is a large concentration of farms and so land availability is limited.
What family members are involved with your operation, and what are their responsibilities?
My wife, Aretha and I are both very involved with the day to day chores. My wife also does the bookkeeping and nutrition for the dairy. All big farm decisions are made together. Our kids are 11, 9 & 7 and help out with chores, specifically calf feeding after school.
What is your primary breed?
Holstein- We proudly breed Holstein cattle and enjoy the genetic aspect of dairy farming, as well as selling milk.
What is the thing you are most proud of in your herd/farm?
Cow comfort and animal care.
What is the ultimate goal of your operation?
Provide high quality milk efficiently and create an environment for our kids to have the opportunity to continue the family business.
What’s your favourite dairy product?
Chocolate milk is a favourite for our entire family.
What is your favourite thing to do when you’re not farming (we get it- days off are few and far between!)
We love to go skiing in the winter and are lucky to live close to some great ski hills. In the summer we enjoy backpacking and hiking on our fantastic local trails. We also like to show our cattle at 4-H shows with the kids.
Do you name your cows? If so, what is your favourite/most unique name for a cow? Who named her?
We name every cow….with 80+ calves a year that is a lot of naming and there are definitely some strange ones! Christmas of 2014 we had 3 calves born: Believeinsanta, Rejoice, and Christmas.
What is your kids' favourite farm chore/activity? Why?
Feeding calves is our kids favorite job. They enjoy caring for the newborns and watching them grow.
Are your kids interested in continuing the family business? If not, what do they “want to be when they grow up”?
Our kids are definitely interested in dairy farming but we will encourage them to go to post-secondary education prior to returning to the farm. Our son Markus also loves building/construction so he might venture that way. Our daughter Skylar would like to be a professional soccer player, and our youngest Anneka says that she would like to be a veterinarian.
|Farmer's Name||Bernard Westenenk|
|Farm Location||Chilliwack, BC|
|Herd size||325 cows|
|Milking herd||130 cows|
|Milking type||Double 10 parlor|
|Housing type||Free stall|
|This farm has been in our family for 50+ years
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