Strategic and deliberate planning are the key to success for the brothers at Valley View Farm.
Brothers Ben and Tim Learned weren’t born farmers. Their family bought Valley View Farm from their neighbors in 2006 and began shipping milk from their herd of six cows in 2009. Over the past decade, the farm has expanded gradually and strategically to get to where they are today milking 110 cows.
Valley View Farm is nestled in the southeastern corner of Connecticut, an area with rich New England history. Old stone walls run throughout the property, some of them keeping their cows enclosed safely on pasture. The dry cows and heifers on pasture enjoy access to fresh water and feed that are brought in daily, as well as forested land to forage and graze. On the surrounding land the Learned brothers also grow 110 acres of hay and 120 acres of corn to feed their cows throughout the year. When they aren’t growing corn and hay on their fields, they plant cover crops including winter rye and turnips to restore nutrients to the soil and prevent soil run-off.
For Ben and Tim, their priority is always the comfort and care of their cows. Mornings on the farm begin at 4am with the first milking of two daily milkings. “Shipping quality milk is a byproduct of having quality animals. When you have quality animals that are healthy, they never let you down,” shares Tim. The milking cows at Valley View are kept in a free stall barn where they have constant access to fresh feed, water, and comfortable bedding to rest and relax. The task Tim enjoys completing the most every day is making sure that their calves are happy and healthy, knowing that raising strong calves is the key to having a productive milking herd in the future.
It’s important to the Learned brothers that they stay open to new ideas, technology, and innovations in dairy for the longevity of their business and the continued care of their cows. They recently installed a new bulk milk tank, increasing their cold milk storage capacity before it’s picked up and delivered to a nearby processing plant. Looking to the future, their next project is to install robotic milkers so that the cows can be milked comfortably on their own schedule.
As the business continues to grow and improve, the Learned brothers are hopeful for the future and what they will leave behind. The fact that they bought a farm, built a successful family business, and filled their barns with happy, healthy cows making high quality milk for their community is something they are deeply proud of. Ben hopes that in the future they will see their nieces, nephews, and their own children get involved on the farm.
In 2020, Valley View Farm was named Connecticut Dairy Farm of the Year. The award is given every year to one outstanding dairy farm in each of the New England states as part of the Green Pasture Award program.
Winners are evaluated on production records; herd, pasture, and crop management; environmental practices; contributions to agriculture and the local community; and overall excellence in dairying.
Valley View Farm is part of the Dairy Farmers of America co-op.