Fairholm Farm: CT Green Pasture’s Dairy Farm of the Year

Morin and Hermonot families with their cows in Woodstock, Connecticut
The Morin and Hermonot families at Fairholm Farm in Woodstock. Photo: Chrissy Peckam

The Green Pastures Award judging team has chosen Fairholm Farm as the Connecticut Dairy Farm of the Year, 2018.  The annual award will be presented at the Big E Green Pasture’s banquet where each New England state presents their winning farm.  The farms present a slide show of their management strategies and innovative goals that result in a successful dairy operation that will grow into the future.

Located in Woodstock, Connecticut, the farm team prides themselves on providing the highest level of care for their growing herd.  Enjoying a cool breeze flowing through the modern freestall barn, over three hundred milking cows relaxed as the judges discussed the changes that the four generations have made since the farm purchase in 1920.  Strawberries and racehorses, cottage cheese, and finally wholesaled high quality milk, are some of the products sold by the Barrett family, then granddaughter, Diane and husband, Todd Morin, and now their daughter, Erica and husband, Jon Hermonot.

The farm grows about eight hundred acres of corn silage and haylage, packing the harvested feed under plastic to ferment for year-round feeding.  The farm’s challenge is to keep the air and water out of the stored forage to reduce losses due to mold.  Todd wishes the crows, looking for corn under the plastic, would hang out somewhere other than the top of the silage pile.

The farm has seen many improvements in the last ten years, including the new barn, shop, and manure storage needed for an efficient dairy operation.  The most recent

Erica Hermonot with the robotic milking machines at Fairholm Farm in Woodstock
Erica inspects the robotic milking equipment at Fairholm Farm in Woodstock. Photo: Chrissy Peckham

adventure has been the installation of four “robotic milkers”, reducing labor costs as well as providing extensive computer data that allows the herd management team to know which cow is feeling great, and who may need extra care.  The new office is welcoming for the evening computer viewing, with a white board covered with cows to watch, benchmarks to reach, and goals needed to allow the farm to remain profitable despite the low milk prices.

The judges enjoyed an extended visit, as the four-owner team’s knowledge of herd health, crop production, and business economics, shared openly, resulted in many questions and follow-up discussions.  A beautiful day on the farm, with a progressive dairy family, happy to be there working together.

We are proud to welcome Fairholm Farm into the family of Green Pasture’s Award winners since 1948 when the New England contest first began.  The governor of New Hampshire challenged the other governors to find a better pasture than in New Hampshire.  Governor Dale lost his wager, presenting a top hat to Connecticut Governor McConaughy at the Eastern States Exposition in front of 6000 people.  Now each state chooses a winner, based on the overall dairy farm management.  Congratulations all!

Article by Joyce E. Meader, UConn Dairy/ Livestock Extension Educator