January 12, 2017
By Ed Byrne The Brillion News
TOWN OF HOLLAND – Country Aire Farms has been singled out among a half dozen dairy farms in the U.S. recognized for the high quality milk it produces.
The farm, owned and operated by brothers Tom and Mike Gerrits and their families, won a Platinum Award from the National Dairy Quality Awards program. The award will be formally presented at the convention of the National Mastitis Council on January 31 in St. Pete Beach, Fla.
Tom and Mike took over operation of the dairy farm after their father, E. Budd Gerrits, died in 2010 at age 69.
Now the next generation of the Gerrits family is being integrated into the farm’s operation. Country Aire has 3,000 cows and works 5,000 acres of land.
The farm has a subsidiary operation, Fox Ridge Dairy Farm in the Town of Buchanan in Outagamie County. That farm has about 650 cows, and is where Tom’s sons Nicholas and Craig, and Mike’s sons Matt and Jonathan, learn farming and farm management the old fashioned way – hands on.
“We have a plan. Each of our sons has to spend two years at that dairy to learn how to manage it, manage employees,” Tom Gerrits said. “It’s kind of a feeder program to this operation.”
Tom’s oldest, Nicholas, ran it for a couple of years, and Matt – who just got married – is running it now.
Mike Gerrits said Country Aire produces milk for Sartori Cheese, a producer of quality Italian style cheeses based in Plymouth, Wis.
Sartori won 17 awards for its cheeses at the 2016 World Cheese Awards in San Sebastian, Spain, in November.
“J.R. Neu from Sartori came to Tom and I and my son Matt and asked that we apply for the awards,” Mike Gerrits said.
The farm, of the six given Platinum Awards, had the second lowest somatic cell count and the lowest “cull rate” in its herd.
The somatic cell count (SCC) is a main indicator of milk quality. The lower the SCC, the less the health problem a cow has with infection. The SCC is quantified as the number of cells per ml. of milk. In general terms:
An individual cow SCC of 100,000 or less indicates an “uninfected” cow, where there are no significant production losses. A threshold SCC of 200,000 would determine whether a cow is infected with mastitis. Cows with a result of greater than 200,000 are highly likely to be infected on at least one quarter. Cows infected with significant pathogens have an SCC of 300,000 or greater.
Please see the complete story in the January 12, 2017 edition of The Brillion News.