There are cows in Japan and Germany that can trace their lineage back to Clear Echo Farm.
Kevin Peck is a proud fifth generation dairy farmer working his operation with the sixth generation foremost in his mind.
There’s no question Clear Echo Farm in Schuylerville, NY is a successful business. As Peck plans for the future, he notes that his farm is doing very nicely, thank you. “Herd size, land base, the milking operations, and equipment – they all fit very well together.” About 700 acres of corn and 700 acres of alfalfa and grass support a milking herd of 600 Holsteins, but what does the future hold when it comes to his sons taking over the farm?
“Who knows what their ambitions are, and what their plans might be?” asks Peck. He’s taking a wait-and-see attitude at the moment.
Recent improvements include a new heifer barn, a commodity barn and a genomic barn, the last to support the farm’s active breeding program. One of Peck’s priorities is gathering DNA samples from baby calves which are then evaluated for their genetic value. The samples help estimate which calves will be taller, which will be longer, and which would produce more milk, and whether that milk will have an improved fat content. Peck’s breeding program attracts buyers from around the world, so there are cows in Japan and Germany that can trace their lineage back to Clear Echo Farm.
“It takes a lot of man hours and money to create this kind of genetics program,” he explains. He adds that one of his herd has been nominated for International Cow of the Year three years in a row, and placed in the top 10 all three years.
But back to Peck’s own human lineage. His son, Matthew, is an animal sciences major at Cornell University, and has a love of working with cows and dairying. Younger son Ryan, a high school sophomore, prefers driving the tractor – “He could spend 14 hours mowing or planting,” Peck says with a laugh – so if the two return the farm, well, Peck sees a great combination.
“Yes, it’s a perfect set-up. We’ll have to see if it transpires,” he says with a laugh.
In the meantime, he’s holding off on building a new milking parlor, and works the farm as his mother, Jean, continues to oversee the bookkeeping. His wife, Carrie, is a full-time teacher at the local school, and helps when the farm hosts its annual Father’s Day “Sunday on the Farm” event for visitors to tour the farm, enjoy hayrides and carriage rides. The day ends with visitors treated to apple pie with ice cream. Last year, about 4,000 people made the trek to Clear Echo Farm to enjoy the day.
About 10 farms in Saratoga County rotate hosting this event. Clear Echo will host for the 3rd time in 2020.
Between the event and everyday work commitments, does Peck have time to ponder the future? He sure does, but like every business owner who thinks about their children taking over, he knows his role is to encourage his sons to follow their hearts. As he might tell you, only time will tell.
Photos Courtesy Clear Echo Farm Facebook Page