Tubergen Dairy Farm named 2022 Dairy Farmer of the Year

MSU Department of Animal Science recognizes Tubergen Dairy Farm’s commitment to animal welfare, support of Michigan Dairy industry

From left, Amber Alexander, Kurt, Doris, Dennis and Todd Tubergen own and operate Tubergen Dairy Farm in Ionia.
From left, Amber Alexander, Kurt, Doris, Dennis and Todd Tubergen own and operate Tubergen Dairy Farm in Ionia. Tubergen Dairy Farm was named 2022 Dairy Farmer of the Year by the MSU Department of Animal Science. (Photo courtesy of Dairy Farmers of America)

EAST LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan State University Department of Animal Science recognizes Tubergen Dairy Farm in Ionia as its 2022 Dairy Farmer of the Year.

Tuburgen couple
Dennis and Doris Tubergen.

Dennis and Doris Tubergen founded their dairy farm in 1982 with just 20 cows and 80 acres. After several expansions, the family now milks 1,400 cows and farms more than 2,000 acres. They currently have a rolling herd average of 31,037 pounds, with 1,134 pounds of fat and 954 pounds of protein. In 2020, they averaged over 97 pounds of milk per cow per day. The farm raises corn, alfalfa, and wheat for dairy purposes.

In its 40 years of operation, the farm has frequently served the community as a model of agricultural success and supporter of community events.

“The Tubergens have opened up their farm to the community many times over the years, including farm tours for the general public as well as industry specific tours that allow the farm to showcase its use of technology and teach others in the industry about their farm,” said Tubergen Dairy Farm’s anonymous nominator. “In addition, the farm donates to the local ‘Purple Committee’ for cancer survivors. They also contribute to the local scholastic book fair so that underprivileged families can purchase books and they are active in fundraising activities for the Ionia County FFA.”

“The Tubergen’s attention to animal care and employee training is a testament to their commitment to quality,” said Cathy Ernst, chair of the Animal Science department. “They are dedicated to sharing their story through opening their farm to the community, and we have appreciated their contributions to the training of our undergraduate students. We are excited to recognize Tubergen Dairy Farm as the 2022 MSU Dairy Farmer of the Year.”

The farm is a family operation with management duties shared between Dennis, Doris and their children, Kurt and Todd Tubergen and Amber Alexander.

Tuburgen children
Todd Tubergen, Amber Alexander and Kurt Tubergen.

Todd handles production, herd health and reproduction of the dairy herd and maintains the farm’s milking systems. He also uses his Spanish speaking background to train employees and communicate scheduling. Amber manages financials and heads the pre-weaned calf care program. Kurt operates the farm’s nutrient management program, including the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program and the CAFO certifications. He heads the cropping enterprise and oversees the farm’s sand separation facility. The farm has 25 employees.

Tubergen Dairy Farm was recognized as a DFA Member of Distinction in 2015 and a National Dairy Quality Award – Platinum winner in 2013.

Todd currently serves as the Young Cooperators representative for the Dairy Farmers of America Mideast Area Council. In 2017, Tubergen Dairy Farm was showcased in the Alta Genetics Advantage Showcase Tour, and in 2015, it hosted Michigan Farm Bureau’s Family Fun on the Farm.

Tubergen Dairy Farm takes great pride in providing the highest quality and most up-to-date animal care methods and technologies and provides extensive employee training to ensure the welfare of its herd.

“The management style at Tubergen Dairy can best be described as ‘paying attention to detail.’ Their commitment to the highest animal care starts with employee training. Every farm employee uses the Dairy Care 365 portal to learn about low stress animal handling. Since management roles are split between the family farm owners, each manager has the time to do hands on training with employees including training in pre-weaned calf protocols and milking procedures,” the nominator said. “By using some of the most up to date management tools and technologies, they are helping to lead the Michigan dairy industry into the future.”

"The selection committee was impressed with this family’s ability to effectively share management responsibilities and achieve excellence across all aspects of the operation,” said Barry Bradford, C. E. Meadows Chair in Dairy Management at MSU. “In our visit to the farm, it was clear that the Tubergen family is constantly looking for the next steps to make their farm more sustainable, with an eye on what will be needed 10 to 20 years down the road. We are proud to honor Tubergen Dairy Farm for their commitment to excellence.”

Since 1958, MSU has awarded the Dairy Farmer of the Year award to farmers who exhibit outstanding management of their dairy farm business and leadership in the Michigan dairy industry or their community.

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