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2013 Massachusetts Outstanding Dairy Farm

Hornstra Farm
John Hornstra
Hingham, Massachusetts

The University of Massachusetts Crops, Dairy, Livestock, and Equine team would like to congratulate Hornstra Farm for recieving the 2013 Outstanding Dairy Farm Award.  Hornstra Farm has been a family owned and operated business for four generations.  In 1912, Anske and Agnes Hornstra, together with their six children, left their native home in Holland and boarded a ship bound for America, the land of opportunity.  Eventually, the family made their way to Hingham, Massachusetts and Hornstra Farms was born. 

The dairy farm business thrived in Hingham for many years and then in the 1980s the Hornstra's farmland was sold for development, like so mant other family farms at that time.  The family did manage to retain a small piece of the farm where they continued to run their declining dairy home delivery business.  A young and energetic John Hornstra took over what was left of that business in 1985.  For the next 29 years he explanded his routes, selling milk in glass bottles that was produced on his cousin's farm in New Hampshire and trucked down to John's Hingham location.  

In 2009, when the Loring Farm, and APR farm in nearby  Norwell, MA, came up for sale, John and his wife, Lauren, jumped at the chance to purchase the 80 acre former dairy farm.  The farm had not been in use for many decades and the barns and fields all required restoration and refurbishing.  After restoring hte farmhouse, John hired recent agricultural school graduates, Ethan and Laura Pratt to help him build and care for a growing herd of beautiful red and white Holsteins. 

The main priority at Hornstra Farms has always been to offer the highest quality milk and cream, so when the farm's processing plant began production in May of 2013, it was a proud day for the entire Hornstra family.  The 46 milking Red and Whites are currently averaging 70 lbs. of milk, with 3.8% fat and 3.1% protein.  The herd's somatic cell count for 2012 averaged a low 130,000, a testament to Ethan and Laura's capable care.  Hornstra Farm feeds a high forage ration, with about 65% of the cows diet coming from corn silage, balage and dry hay.  The additional grain feed is free of all animal byproducts and is fairly limited, with an average cow recieving 15 lbs. per day.  

Horsntra Farms uses artificial insemination, breeding their cows to sire that will improve teh herd's genetics, striving for higher production, milk quality, and increased productive life.  They have also started experimenting with embryo transfer by buying frozen embryos and putting them in a few of the farms recipient cows. The herd's conception rate is 45% and the pregnancy rate is 20%.  Cows are bred off of both timed A.I. and natural heats. 

The farm has been raising replacement heifers for the past four years.  As the herd grows, the Hornstras have begun to outgrow their original 60 cow tie stall barn.  They plan to build a barn for heifers and dry cows to support hteir growing herd.  The herd's growth has also proved that they will need more land to grow feed.  The farm has reclaimed 40 acres of overgrown fields and they plan to do moe of this in the future.  Much of the ferms current cropland is rented from the Town of Norwell's open space conservation program. 

John and Lauren Hornstra continue to expand their plans for Hornstra Farms/  THey have begun to experiment with making their own ice cream to better utilize their excess cream.  A farm store with adjacent ice cream shop will open in the near future, and on scheduled visitation days, the Hornstra family plans toshare their beautiful property as well as their love of farming with the greater community.