Southpoint Dairy Farm
This grower uses synthetic fertilizers and/or pesticides.
This grower has a photo album.
Southpoint Dairy Farm
- 1,708 mature cows
- Workforce is 13 people
- Average milk production per cow is 1,600 gallons per year
- 2 milkings per day
- Does not use rBGH our routine antibiotics.
- Types of Grasses Grazed
- Bermuda and Bahia grasses during the Spring, Summer and Fall
- Oats and ryegrass during the Winter
Except for a small ‘treat’ of grains inside the Parlor during milking, the cows only eat a natural grass based diet.
Southpoint Dairy is not certified organic and has a few practices which would prohibit it from being considered a “practicing organic” farm. It has been disclosed to Homegrown Co-op that the farm uses synthetic fertilizers to amend the soil for adequate forage grass production to feed their herd of Jersey dairy cows. This is a common practice for grass-fed farms here in Florida since our sandy soil lacks many of the organic compounds needed to sustain healthy grass and forage growth.
Most of the fertilizer for this dairy farm is organic, as they have a huge supply of cow manure to spread into the soil through their two huge pivot irrigation systems which double in the summer as a cooling mist system to keep the cows cool and stress free during the hot tropical summer months. Happy, stress free cows, get sick less, and therefore need less medicine to keep them well. _The farm does not use routine antibiotics or rBGH. _
The farm also employees a synthetic herbicide called GrazeOn Next to control the spread of invasive field weeds which would poison the animal or badly taint the flavor of the milk harvested.
Southpoint Dairy limits these ‘conventional’ practices to an “as needed” only basis. As an extra measure for food safety and quality, the Southpoint Dairy herd is “withheld” from a treated field for 7 days after application of these synthetic products as an added step to protect you, and your family’s, health even though they are not required since these products have been tested and labeled “safe” by the FDA to allow dairy animals to graze immediately upon treated fields.
Meeting the harsh demands of Florida’s sub-tropical climate and sandy soil, Homegrown Co-op thinks Southpoint Dairy as a part of the Alliance Grazing Group is leading the field at this point in the development and practice of sustainable farming at a scale that can really feed the population.
Our Farm’s Story:
When Jan Henderson joined her father’s farm, Alliance Dairies, in August of 2010, she traded her black heels and career in commercial lending for a pair of well-fitting rubber boots and role as understudy to her father within the dairy world.
“I spent this past year learning the business,” said Jan. “We don’t just milk cows. It is a lot more complex than that. I didn’t realize how little I knew. It did not take long to recognize how important the employees are to the success of the dairy.”
Since joining Alliance Dairies, Jan has participated in almost every aspect of the business, including: milking and breeding cows, creating a website and determining cost analysis calculations.
The history of Alliance Dairies started long before Jan was even born. Her grandfather owned and operated a dairy farm in Western New York. When her father, Ron St. John, Jr., graduated from Cornell University, he returned home to work with his father on the farm.
“By the time my dad was out of college, my grandfather was ready to turn it over to him,” said Jan.
Unfortunately for the St. John family, Western New York was notorious for its malevolent snowstorms. After a winter of particularly bad blizzards, Ron was certain that there had to be a more efficient and profitable place to run a dairy farm. He began exploring temperate areas of the U.S. that afforded equal or better business opportunities. His travels took him to the Southeast where he decided Florida offered a slight financial advantage over Georgia.
“People in the local area really helped him out,” said Jan. “The feed store owner, in particular, made sure he was introduced to the right people. He helped secure financing and open accounts with local vendors.”
Ron moved to Florida and built Levy County Dairy with partner Ron Skelton in 1986. He later partnered with Sandy McArthur and built Alliance Dairies in 1990. At this time he became a silent partner in Levy County Dairy and managing partner at Alliance Dairies.
In 1996, Ron opened his first grazing dairy, Piedmont. It was not profitable and was closed 4 years later. In 2006, with a totally new grazing philosophy, Piedmont was reopened. In 2009, Ron opened a second grass-based dairy: Southpoint.
“Our return on investment should be higher with our grazing dairies because there is not as much infrastructure involved,” said Jan. “The concept itself is a simpler model not easier. It’s putting the cow back in her natural environment.”
The Alliance Grazing Group’s grass-based dairies contribute to their commitment to be “stewards of the earth.” Requiring fewer resources, grazing dairies consume and produce a lesser amount of fossil fuels because there isn’t as much labor, machinery, electricity, or water needed.
Alliance Grazing Group will be expanding in the near future with the addition of another grass-based dairy, Grassy Bell, which will have 1500 cows.
Jan and her father are quick to point out that the Alliance Grazing Group, which employ 31 people, are still family farms.
“Every employee represents a family. We all work together to produce quality milk in the most economical and sustainable way,” said Jan. “All employees have different experiences and skill sets, and each person brings something different to the dairy.”
This diversity in background and perspective contributes to the success of the Alliance Grazing Group.