The calves at Tully Farms Dairy are an independent bunch. You won’t see Charlie Tully and his crew at feeding time, since these little ladies feed themselves.
To be more precise, they’re fed using an automatic calf feeder, and Charlie Tully will tell you it’s a time-saver, as well as an improvement in terms of calf health. Instead of the usual calf hutches, Tully now relies on an open pen for about 25 calves at a time, and they quickly learn to use the automated feeder when they’re hungry. The new method provides more consistent feedings and is proving to be key for raising the herd’s next generation of healthy calves.
It’s just the latest innovation at Tully Farm, winner of the 2019 Green Pasture Award and Massachusetts’ Dairy Farm of the Year. The award is given every year to one outstanding dairy farm in each of the New England states, with winners evaluated on production records; herd, pasture, and crop management; environmental practices; contributions to agriculture and the local community; and overall excellence in dairying.
Tully Farm has been family owned since 1872, for six generations, starting with the purchase of the original farm on Hollis Street in Dunstable. After acquiring other local farms, the operation has grown to include land in Dunstable and Pepperell MA and nearby Hollis, NH. Today, Charles W. Tully, Jr., known as Charlie, works with his youngest son, Jacob, alongside Charlie’s wife, Jennifer, and remaining children, Kristina, Erin and Steven.
Charlie had a deep respect for his father, Charles W., Sr., — “the hardest-working man I ever knew” — but he was mentored by his grandfather, George Tully. “He was a forward-thinker,” he explains. His father worked the farm; his grandfather focused on the business side, planning for the future and laying the groundwork for its continued success well into the 21st century.
Charlie obviously inherited the forward thinking of his grandad. In 1999, a new milking parlor was added, and other improvements followed. Today, activity monitors are used on their teenage cows and the milking herd, not only helping with reproductive management, but also keeping cows healthy.
The current Tully Farm consists of approximately 400 acres of land and 250 Holsteins cows as well as beef cows. They ship milk to Cabot in nearby Vermont, but in 2017, with the help of Hornstra Farm in nearby Norwell, the Tully family also started processing and bottling some of their milk to sell directly to the public at their farm store. The farm uses vat pasteurization and glass bottles to produce high quality, fresh milk.
In addition to products from the farm, Tully Farms Dairy supports other local farms and businesses by selling those company’s products in their farm store as well.
Charlie is grateful for the Green Pasture award. “It’s a real honor. We work hard to keep the farm presentable to the public, with the milk, the retail operation and the rest, but this award shows that people in the industry recognize our efforts.”
Photos Courtesy UMass Amherst Extension