Lowell Friedline struck out on his own as a dairy farmer in 1988 when he started buying his farm in installments from his dad. By the time his father died, Friedline was nearly debt-free. It’s been part of his philosophy ever since: don’t buy what you don’t know how to pay for. But for small farms like the one he and his family work, the margins are slim.
In 2014, what Friedline calls “a very good year,” 100 pounds of milk brought in $21-$22. By 2016, that price had dropped to $14.
“Anybody else took a cut like that in their wages, well, they’d scream bloody murder,” he said.
Friedline is older now; his granddaughter Paige Friedline is Walnutdale Farm’s herd manager. He said he mostly feeds the cows. It depends on the cow, but most get 80 pounds each day, of grass, alfalfa, corn, soybean meal and minerals.