This transcript accompanies the episode A Tale of Two Dairies.
cows, milk, dairy, farm, barn, big, herd, eat, people, ice cream, logan, jerseys, day, cattle, operation, water, bred, bacteria, grow, anthony
Charlie Coblentz, Grounded by the Farm, Anthony Coblentz
Grounded by the Farm 00:03
Food is more than just what’s on our plate. It’s the places where it’s grown. It’s the people who grow it and so much more. Join me, Janice person, your host on grounded by the farm every other week as we talk about the foods we love. For this episode, we’re in northeastern Oklahoma, it’s a beautiful area. Not sure if you’ve been here before, pretty hot and humid this time a year. Today, what I’ve done is go to visit two different dairy farms. And so excited, we’ve got video from both of those on the website grounded by the farm.com. Midwest Dairy actually created this event for a number of people around Oklahoma and myself to come in and meet these farmers on two different operations. Really appreciate that, and they’re sponsoring this episode. That’s a first for us, you may notice that in this I interviewed three different people. So you’ll find that I’m trying to keep them straight for you as we do it. You got Charlie and Anthony who farm with the rest of their family, their dad, mom and brother and then Logan, who farms on his own for the most part, but his sister actually as part of his operation, and his parents are incredibly supportive. With that we’re going to start with Anthony and Anthony, I want you to tell me a little bit about your farms background and how would you just describe your family’s operation for our listeners.
Anthony Coblentz 01:30
So our family farm includes two generations, three generations, I guess, with myself, my two other brothers and my mom and dad being primary operators on it. We operate primarily Holstein, dairy, and among other crops we raise and beef cattle that we raise.
Grounded by the Farm 01:47
So you grew up around dairy farming, right?
Anthony Coblentz 01:49
Yes, it’s multiple generations, like your grandparents, your great grandkids or when did it start? So technically, I guess, even generations before that, everybody always had a milk cow. So everybody milked cows, but my dad and my mom started gearing in 1972.
Grounded by the Farm 02:06
Okay, I shouldn’t have asked you what town are you in?
Anthony Coblentz 02:08
Choteau would be the address and the name of the farm? Charles H and Ellen L Coblenz. Dairy farms incorporated.
Grounded by the Farm 02:16
All right. Now Logan, tell me a little bit about your farm and sort of what you’re doing.
Anthony Coblentz 02:21
So our farm is Courtney farms dairy part of Courtney farms, which is a multi generational family farming operation. There’s currently three generations on the farm at present. I didn’t grow up in the dairy industry, like Coblenz did but grew up in production agriculture, with beef cattle, crops and hogs. Dairy was a passion that I’ve had a big interest in pretty much all my life. Yeah. through organizations like for H I became involved in showing dairy at county fair state fairs, those type of events. And I decided I wanted to make it to the my career choice as an adult. So in 2017, we started milking commercially, my sister and I own pedigreed herd of registered jerseys. So a little bit different than what most dairy farms are with the big black and white cows, we milk little brown cows. So that’s kind of
Grounded by the Farm 03:11
and I hope you don’t mind. So on the Koblenz is we have like from the 70s. And you said you started? Did you start in college or after college?
Anthony Coblentz 03:20
Well, after I left college, I started dairy farming. I have some very supportive parents who were very encouraging my career choice. Probably not most parents would be happy about their kids coming back home to milk cows, but I made it work. And it’s something that I really enjoy every day. One of the things
Grounded by the Farm 03:37
I think is really interesting, Charlie, when we got on your farm today, your dad had given us some background and everything. But when we came in the first building we saw was the milking barn. Would you mind tell him sort of how that setup works and sort of how you keep your herd doing what it needs to do?
Charlie Coblentz 03:57
Yeah. So the first thing you would have saw was our milk barn. You stood in the cafeteria where we make the milk the bottles of milk to feed the baby calves you went to their first and then went into the milking parlor is a double 30 was 60 milkers 30 on each side, and we design that we use a design for a milk barn that should that could milk cows 24 hours a day. But we need to try we’re trying to milk our 400 cows in the morning and evening chore as quick as possible. And two guys milk or or or gals which by the way, women are always better milkins they would be there they’re always more sensitive, always more caring always do a better job. I shouldn’t tell but most of the time they do a better job but so and we need help right now. So if you know anybody wants to milk cows and round around Shoto area should Oklahoma come on down. Especially if you’re especially if you’re a caring sensitive woman and you you are hired
Grounded by the Farm 04:52
is married lady. This is a pickup lot. Okay, so
Charlie Coblentz 04:57
we’re milking we’re trying to milk 400 Cows Basically as fast as we can twice a day, so that’s why that’s why I’m on set up. But we put two or three extra people in there. And you can really knock it out fast and get it done. But that’s,
Grounded by the Farm 05:08
that’s as fast as you can. Is that good for the cows are
Charlie Coblentz 05:12
yes, the less time they’re standing up on the in the lot on concrete. Okay, the better it is on them.
Grounded by the Farm 05:16
So that’s like farmers, they don’t like to stand on Congress. Exactly, exactly.
Charlie Coblentz 05:21
I mean, it hurts me to stand still. So on concrete, but same way with the cows up. So they’re in and out as fast as possible cow milks an average of seven minutes. You know, some are, you know, from two minutes to 15 minutes, but we’re basically we’re trying to get them in and out as fast as possible, get them back to their beds, the feed to the water tanks and to their, to their, where they can where they can hang out and be nice and comfortable.
Grounded by the Farm 05:43
And since we weren’t at your barn at five o’clock in the morning, I wasn’t able to get video of the milkers working but I do have video of the parlor and what it looks like. And I do have some of that kind of video from another farm. So I might splice them in so people can see generally how it works. Because yours you have those 30 days you sit on each side. So you got 60 cows in there at any time when you’re milking.
Charlie Coblentz 06:08
Yes, yeah, it would be very unusual to walk in there and see 60 milkers on at the same time, but it would not be uncommon to walk in and see 30 members on one side that were just put on 30 cows coming in on the other side. Yes. And you know, there’s the first couple 100 cows will come in on their own and turn as fast as they can just to be ready to be ready to be milked and then in your truck. We’re always training we kept out 60 heifers in the last two months. So we’re always we’re always training some new some new cows also enjoy it’s a bit of a process. Yeah.
Grounded by the Farm 06:39
Alright, let’s talk about milking at your place looking because it’s pretty different.
Anthony Coblentz 06:44
So it it is different. Walking in our barn versus Koblenz his barn does look different. But the same basic principles apply. We’re wanting to get our cows milked and back to where they can be comfortable. And we want our cows to you know, be calm, and you know everything while they go through our barn. Something a little different. We were the first robotic dairy in Oklahoma, this new technology for this part of the country. But
Grounded by the Farm 07:05
it’s gonna tell you when I told a friend last night I was coming to robot dairy, where robots milk the cows, they really were I think they thought the Jetsons kind of robots or something?
Anthony Coblentz 07:15
Oh, yeah. And that’s a lot of people are surprised that cows can be milked with robots. It’s technology that’s been around for quite a while in Europe. Some of the oldest robots are 20 years old. So it’s new technology here. But it’s not new technology as a whole. Yeah, unlike how Charles is dairy, they bring in, you know, 60 cows, we’re only milking one cow at a time. So it looks like we’re milking slower, but we’re milking day and night. So the cows freely come and go as they choose from pasture, come up into the barn to eat, to get milk to go hang out with friends do whatever they’re going to do throughout their day. So it’s really about free cow flow, the cows do what they want. We make sure our cows are milked twice a day, we go through the herd and make sure that you know Samantha Mae and whoever has visited the robot and got milk we shoot for 2.5 visits a day is kind of our goal. But higher cows that are higher producers making more milk per day can milk more times a day if they want to. So it’s very customized to the cow.
Grounded by the Farm 08:14
Yeah, it’s funny, but looking at both. So I learned early on that cows only Moo when they need something, or when they sent something is wrong or something like that. And moving through the cattle in both places. The cows seem pretty quiet and pretty content, I would say would you say, Anthony that part of that is your cows get a routine they know they’re being cared for? Or what is what is it that makes them so happy? Go lucky.
Anthony Coblentz 08:45
So cows really like normal? They they thrive with normal. If random people show up, it does kind of throw them off, like what’s going on? And they’re very curious animals, but just keeping them quote unquote normal. Is there.
Grounded by the Farm 08:58
Like a routine like a toddler?
Anthony Coblentz 09:00
Yep. So I mean, if you all of a sudden, don’t let your toddler sleep? No, they don’t get their nap. They’re going to act different. Yeah. So basically, as long as they’re left alone to do their thing, like they normally do eat, drink water lay around to count out
Grounded by the Farm 09:13
when we were going through the barn and people will say we were on a wagon with hay, I noticed that the cattle they kind of had like beach access with sand or something.
Anthony Coblentz 09:23
Yep. So they have sand beds. It’s also for comfort, but also bacteria and things don’t grow in sand. So it’s a good media did to clean and to let them lay in.
Grounded by the Farm 09:34
That makes sense. And I noticed on the concrete there was always scoring of the concrete. I know a lot of people like to do that with their floors these days at home, but that’s a piece you mentioned about how the cattle walk and the cows then won’t slide so much.
Anthony Coblentz 09:49
Yeah, so cattle hooves are very hard and then you know, they’re they’re kind of top heavy. So they’re, you know, they’re on a slick surface. Yeah, if it’s no groove or anything like that, that Slide and you don’t want them to fall. So we take a lot of effort to get grooves and things to make sure that they, if they ever happen to slipper, you know, they can catch themselves,
Grounded by the Farm 10:09
that’s Holsteins are pretty big. They’re the black and white cows that everybody always thinks of, and what makes that whole thing so great, and the dairy world,
Anthony Coblentz 10:18
it’s kind of a generational thing, or even longer have they been bred through the centuries, they give a lot of milk, they basically, you know, even for their offspring that they would no normal cat could consume all the milk that one Holstein cow produces. But we also we do have some crossbreds in the herd for components, but also trying to fit different, you know, it’d be great to milk all different types of cows at once. But your facilities, you know, a Jersey cow is a lot smaller than a Holstein cow. So then, if they don’t fit right in the stall, then they maybe defecate in the bed or not about that they don’t fit in the stall of milk barn. So they have a lot of room to kind of bounce around. So it’s kind of it’s nice to have more of a uniform size that way that there’s not a big, you know, variance, you know, because sometimes the jerseys are kind of funny that they’ll like to lay in the beds backwards. And so there’ll be
Grounded by the Farm 11:08
jerseys have more personality. They
Anthony Coblentz 11:10
do they they know. Okay, they sent open gates. Yeah, yeah, they already had to see him. They just sent him that they know they’re
Anthony Coblentz 11:17
there. Well, I’m mostly able to open a gate to snow.
Charlie Coblentz 11:20
Okay, yeah, they are real quick. This is not negative toward Holsteins or anything, but I want to Holstein is born, they’re looking for a reason to die. When a jersey is born, they are lively. It is true.
Grounded by the Farm 11:34
We’re so glad Charlie weighed in on that. You should see the response from his parents in the background. So Logan, you guys have jerseys, which I think are the prettier cows, they’ve got the long eyelashes, which are really fashionable right now. But tell me a little bit about the difference in those and some of the things that you do at your place, because you’re they’ve got barns separated from the milking, they’ve got your operations just set up totally different. But are you taking good care of those cattle?
Anthony Coblentz 12:07
So our operation is quite a bit different than the Coblenz is farm our cows, they don’t have sand beds to lay in, we utilize pasture. So we utilize systems such as holistic grazing, to manage our grasslands. Yeah, conservation is a big thing for us. So we’re using dairy cattle to manage grasslands that Bison would have in past centuries. So as part of our conservation program on our operation, so we need a cow that’s a little more heat tolerant Holsteins, like fans and stuff a little bit more they need a little bit different housing for the jerseys can be out there out in the fields all day, they travel a little better. They’re a little smaller, they’re a little more lively. So also a big plus for us. Milk is priced according to components. Partially though we’re components are butterfat, and protein, so we’re really wanting to breed for those really high fat and protein cows that makes yummy stuff like cheese, ice cream and yogurt. You know, who doesn’t like butter fat? So yeah, so it’s a little bit different. Also, we enjoy breeding jerseys. All of our cows are pedigreed. They have 150 years of breeding behind them that’s carefully selected, and we exhibit our cattle that shows and stuff. So it’s fun to take cows that you bred at the farm to a show and come back with ribbons and I got selfies with one Eric. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. And that’s another plus the show cows they love. They love taking pictures. So that’s a that’s a big plus. So.
Grounded by the Farm 13:24
So. So he mentioned some of the types of sustainability work he’s doing your farm and operation is just very different. And I know you do the cropping on that side. Now, Charlie, can you tell me on the sustainability side since you guys don’t put your cows out on pasture as much per day?
Charlie Coblentz 13:43
Yeah, yeah, we have several pastures that the cows can also go to. It’s really, they’re open right now. They’re open to go out to pasture, but they choose to lay in the sand beds underneath. On a day like today, I would choose to be inside today to weather the weather’s nice, they will go out they will go out but today they’re hanging out inside.
Grounded by the Farm 14:00
All right. And so help me understand some of the other sustainability pieces. So you do have that option of going out on the field and having sort of the grasslands are managed and some of those pieces what else are you guys doing in terms of sustainability on the farm, and Anthony, would you mind covering that?
Anthony Coblentz 14:18
So in that freestyle barn that they stay in, the barn is scraped clean once a day, twice a day, and that manure is collected and then put into a spreader and then it goes out on all the farm ground fields. So the crops that we’re raising the corn silage and corn that we’re raising and an alfalfa, we take that manure back out to the farm fields and spread that out over the ground.
Grounded by the Farm 14:39
Oh, that’s fantastic, right? It’s, it almost gets to like composting or some of that kind of thing that people do at their home gardens or something. Can you help me understand some of those other pieces? You also do some cool stuff with water. I think management on the farm when we were looking through the parlor when there A neat piece where yeah, we’re doing some things to kind of take the water through, it was caught right there.
Charlie Coblentz 15:06
Yes. So we catch every drop of water in the milk barn or on the concrete there. And it will end up in our lagoon, which is it’s a big, it’s probably a big pond. It’s a big, it looks like a big pond. Yeah, basically. And we will this summer, as it gets drier, we will want we will pump that out onto our farm onto our fields and water crops with it.
Grounded by the Farm 15:27
And part of the thing that I find just amazing is you guys are checking for bacteria and stuff in that kind of product as well as you know, you’re worried about food safety with the milk and the cows and stuff. But you’re also very focused in on Bacteria entering any of those other systems Logan
Anthony Coblentz 15:42
And another great thing about that it’s nutrient rich water, it’s not just runoff water, so it has nutrition that can go and grow crops and stuff. And so it’s it’s not a waste product, it is a valuable part of any farm really that’s you that utilizes that water
Grounded by the Farm 15:56
and part of it you test it for the types of nutrients and offers as well as the bacteria, right. So what the nitrogen amount is so that you know really what you’re feeding the soils to get what you need out of it.
Charlie Coblentz 16:09
Yes, and that’s one of the things is recent change on all these were those milk cows are milked, cows are eating about 1000 acres of corn a year. So we’re constantly making that sparkle from the with the lagoon water which is full of nutrients and over the counter, is we are we’re grid sampling our soils to figure out what each acre needs. So that’s that’s a recent change is trying to fit instead of just dumping everything out there. We’re trying to we’re trying to grid sample figure out what we actually need for each acre.
Grounded by the Farm 16:37
So you guys really are trying to work the animals and the land and everything together. Can we talk about something a little more exciting, like your favorite dairy foods? Okay, so who’s gonna go first ice cream. Anthony is weighing in with ice cream.
Charlie Coblentz 16:51
Every time we it gets brought up that that maybe we shouldn’t milk cows anymore because it’s very hard to make money on cows. It’s very, it’s very stressful. And it takes seven days week, but I always think about who’s gonna make the ice cream if we stop.
Grounded by the Farm 17:06
Logan, are you a ice cream guy?
Anthony Coblentz 17:08
Well, ice cream is obviously wonderful, but I prefer cheese. It’s far, far more diverse. And so it’s, you know,
Grounded by the Farm 17:15
you even had cheese out for us today. So that’s, that’s like, bonus points for having snacks available. Do any of you guys do? Do you make any of your own ice cream like every now and then do you have one of those old turns that my dad used to make me turn?
Charlie Coblentz 17:32
Grounded by the Farm 17:36
I love it. I love it. Any favorite recipes that your family does that includes dairy do use a lot of of yogurt type products,
Anthony Coblentz 17:45
Grounded by the Farm 17:46
I like cheesecake. You’re a big cheesecake family. Oh, my brother in law has a cheesecake. That’s amazing. He’s a fantastic cook when it comes to cheesecake. Logan, how about your family?
Anthony Coblentz 17:56
We do a lot of yogurt. Yes, that’s kind of a big one at our house.
Grounded by the Farm 18:00
Yeah. Yeah, I’m a huge fan of milk. But I’m gonna tell you I’m one of those people as a little problem with lactose. So some of the filtered milks and some of those things has made it easier for me to enjoy more milk. I’m a big fan of chocolate milk, especially any of the cream top kind of products, a big fan of those. And I understand it helps me replenish the nutrients. You know, like if I’ve been really sweating having a hot day, something like chocolate milk gets me back on the road faster.
Anthony Coblentz 18:32
Chocolate milk is great. I mean, what’s not to like on it? We consume a lot of dairy at our house meaning ice cream is probably my favorite. But do I eat ice cream all the time? Not so much. But cheese is probably an every every meal. Yeah, it’s
Grounded by the Farm 18:46
I’ve known a lot of farmers and not until I started working with dairy farmers did I always have milk brought to the table. It’s not something that happens. You know, when you’re eating dinner in the city, we don’t always have milk on the table. But I love how many farmers actually get milk on the table. Because they know it’s actually delivering all those great nutritional kind of components. So like vitamin D, calcium, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, all those different things, right? I’m a whole milk girl myself, but I’ve found reasons for all the other types of milk and heavy creams, all those kinds of things but in different places. Do any of you guys really know about that nutritional side of the dairy piece?
Anthony Coblentz 19:25
Milk is one of the only things in nature that provides all nutritional needs. I mean, you can it will sustain life. So I mean, that alone speaks a lot that milk and sustain life. So the milk fats and sugars in it are highly nutritional, full of vitamins.
Grounded by the Farm 19:41
I really appreciate it’s got that combination of protein that’s hard to get in a drink or something you know, like protein isn’t automatically unless you’re getting one of those weird shakes with some white, some kind of powders in it and stuff. I’m a big fan of getting some protein because it’ll make me feel full for a little bit. I’m kind of between things. But that upset cycling, like I can’t eat grass, I don’t want to eat grass, I appreciate that your cattle eat grass, they eat things that I would never want to eat. I’m a big fan of cottonseed oil you can grab and yeas and that all day, but I don’t want to eat the fuzzy seed. And you guys showed me that that’s in your rations for your cattle, right? So what kind of things do cows need to eat to feel happy.
Anthony Coblentz 20:28
So we do have a paid nutritionist that we use for formulating our rations and stuff like that for the dairy. But I mean, just like, you know, we need a well balanced diet for whatever we consume kind of the same thing with cows, making sure we meet their energy requirements or fat needs.
Anthony Coblentz 20:42
Well, dairy cows are like extreme athletes, they need a very carefully balanced diet. And, and it is easier to use a nutritionist to make sure that we’re meeting those goals the same way a Olympic athlete is not formulating their own meal plan, there is somebody that’s, you know, gone to school that know how to do a nutrition plan to meet their optimal potential. And it’s the same way with a dairy cow.
Grounded by the Farm 21:02
That’s a great way of thinking about it, because they’re focused on their job at hand on a regular basis. And on your farm, they actually get Scooby Snacks delivered in the robot.
Anthony Coblentz 21:11
Yeah, so our cows are fed while they’re being milked, and we feed a sweetened grain in there that sweetened with molasses. So it’s a, it probably wouldn’t be sweet to us if we ate it, but to them, they think it’s really something special. So we’re bribing cows with treats,
Grounded by the Farm 21:26
and it happens I can I can be bribed easily is there some big Watch out just real quick, always has something to say we
Charlie Coblentz 21:35
in order. Okay, we have to, we have to make money to keep doing this, we have to be we had to financially it has to make sense. But if our cows are not happy and comfortable, all the time, they cannot produce milk. So cow comfort is everything to us,
Grounded by the Farm 21:53
I appreciate that that’s a real, real clear line. It just makes good sense long term, and it keeps those cows in your herd for years to come so
Anthony Coblentz 22:03
well, in the same way a good employer takes care of his or her employees. It’s the same way with cows, we want the cows to be around for a lot of years old cows that are in the herd a long time are going to produce good quantities of milk. Like they are saying, there’s not big profit margins and milking cows. So you have to partially want to be doing it to start with, but if we can keep those cows in the herd longer, we have cows that you know, are in the herd for years and years and years, 910 12 years old, and you know, they’re still in the herd living their best life making milk. And that really comes down to cow comfort.
Grounded by the Farm 22:35
Well, I really love that we’ve been able to see two really different dairies, we’ll have that video up on the website. And then having this conversation, there’s some real differences in the way you milk and the way you choose which breeds of cows on your farm and things. But at the end of the day, what I’m hearing is, is you both are really both farms are focused in on animal comfort, you’re both looking out for the environment. And you both are presenting a healthy, wholesome product for us at the end that’s really safe for consumers. And that is the kind of thing that you’d be happy to serve your children or my nieces and nephews and things along that line. And I think that’s what makes dairy a pretty different piece of the world is that you guys get to do all those things. So thanks so much for sharing your stories, we’ll make sure that we put any of the social media that you guys want to share with us. So folks want to get back in touch. And this episode is sponsored by Midwest Dairy. So we’ll make sure you have all the information on how to get back in touch with them as well. Thank you guys.