Mad Science Project Allows Family Business to Thrive
Peter Eldred refers to Lost Creek Dairy as both a “mad science project” and his “mid-life crisis”. TheNew York native has been in the dairy industry since his father started farming in 1974. What beganas a small dairy with 40 cows eventually turned into two wholly-owned New York dairies and apartnership in a third, making the business one of the largest dairy producers in New York State.Peter, who inherited his ambitious nature from his father, wanted to grow larger. Though a start-updairy is difficult, he realized his future would not be on the East Coast and decided to move across thecountry to Roggen, CO in 2012.
The environment in Colorado is precisely what he wanted for a dairy. The state’s climate, with its lowhumidity levels, is what he calls “cow weather”. That makes it easier to keep the cows healthy. Theamount of open land gives him the opportunity to expand relatively easily which is a quality he hopesto take advantage of in the near future.
Colorado also lends itself to the Eldred’s philosophy of managing costs. Peter believes farmers will bepaid, within a 50 cents difference from coast to coast. The challenge then becomes cost reduction andefficient use of labor. Colorado may not always be the cheapest in overall costs, but he has found hecan manage a large dairy with fewer people. This is due in part to the installation of a DeLaval PR3100 rotary parlor.
Peter has experience working with several parlor styles, the New York operations have a parrabone, 1rotary, a herringbone and parallel parlors. When building his own facility, he chose DeLaval becausehe was impressed with the quality of an older installation. “The unit I saw was installed years ago andis still going strong,” says Eldred, “That type of longevity is extremely important”. Coupled with that isthe size that DeLaval is able to provide. No other company builds a 100 stall rotary which is needed toaccomplish the speed needed to milk at Lost Creek.
Another reason for selecting DeLaval is the breadth of the product line. Not only is he able to milk his3,300 Holstein herd three times a day, but he is also able to implement a complete solution to facilitateherd management. A sort gate controlled by the DeLaval Farm Management Software Systemprovides identification capabilities for easy routing of the cows. “The system is intuitive and extremelyuser-friendly,” Eldred mentions, “We were fearful there would be issues installing it, but it has workedseamlessly. Once the software was up and running, everything has been as simple as plug and play”.
DeLaval products have worked well for Peter. When asked to reflect, he mentions that most of theissues he encounters tend to come from people, not the equipment. This frees him to plan for furtherexpansion.
When speaking about the future, it becomes clear that Peter is constantly looking for the next bigproject, “I can’t imagine ever sitting still and am constantly pursuing the next big thing”. This includesexpanding the farm and installing more DeLaval rotary parlors to keep up with the demand. He mayrefer to the farm as his “mad science project”, but it is actually a work of pure genius.