2020 Innovative Dairy Farmer of the Year: A Progressive Partnership

Cow Managers ( MVP Dairy )

MVP Dairy

The first cows at MVP Dairy were milked in November 2018. Within three weeks, the farm went from zero cows to where they are today with 4,400 cows in six freestall barns. The cows are milked on an 80-bail DeLaval PR3100HD rotary, and the farm is home to a range of technology from activity monitors to manure separators. 

On the farming side, the partnership uses sustainable farming practices to make the most of their 4,500 acres. MVP uses cover crops on 95% of their fields, no-till methods, grid soil sampling, grass filter strips along open ditches, precision irrigation and variable-rate nutrient application technology.

Both families have an unwavering commitment to sustainability. 

“Sustainability, whether environmental, community or business, has always been a keystone principle for our overall business,” says Ken McCarty. “We haven’t always been able to be proactive on those initiatives due to market conditions, but we were inspired by the fact that the VanTilburg family shares those same values.”

While the challenges vary in Ohio versus Kansas, McCarty says the core principles still hold true. 

“The reality is sustainability is important for many reasons,” he says. “We depend on the communities we live in to sustain us, so it’s imperative we sustain them. We depend on all the team members we work with every day. So, it’s important that we take care of them. Especially when you consider we hold our farms to very high standards. It takes a lot of people to do what we do, but it takes even more people to do what we do to the standard we want them to do it.”

Dial In the Details

Attention to detail is fundamental on MVP Dairy. Because of all the technology used on the farm, the team uses an abundance of data to direct each and every decision. 

All of the partners and managers of MVP are competitive, which can cause emotions to run high, McCarty adds. 

“By paying attention to detail, allowing those details to influence the data and letting the data drive the decisions, it allows us to run our farm with confidence, and it also solidifies our relationships,” he explains. “We’re not basing our decisions on opinion — we’re basing our decisions on facts, and those facts make our farms and our relationships better.”

Like the other dairies the McCarty family owns, MVP uses a remote video monitoring program with K•Coe Isom. 

“Given our responsibility to our cattle and our team members and knowing all that responsibility flows back into our customer and consumer, we thought it was imperative to implement that program at MVP as well,” McCarty says. “Those cameras are our monitor at random 24/7, and every week we receive reports detailing good things and bad things that they’ve recorded, whether that be related to animal welfare, compliance with protocols, safety issues or other anomalies in patterns.”

At the end of the day, everything at MVP dairy is intended to ensure the safety and welfare of their animals and employees. 

“We’re trying to make our farm better, and ultimately our cows happier,” McCarty says.  

To see more photos of MVP Dairy, click on the slideshow below.

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