The McCarty family: Tom and Judy (center) pictured with their four sons’ families.
With roots in the dairy business dating to 1914, Tom and Judy McCarty moved their family from Pennsylvania to western Kansas in 1999 and established McCarty Family Farms
there, turning over day-to-day operations to their four sons: Clay, David, Ken and Mike.
The operation has grown to four dairy farms, where they milk approximately 8,200 cows. Three farms are located in Western Kansas, near Bird City, Rexford and Scott City, and a fourth is located in Beaver City, Nebraska. The Rexford dairy includes a milk processing plant, processing condensed pasteurized skim milk and pasteurized heavy cream.
All four McCarty brothers work in various parts of the business, and the dairy farms employ about 125 workers. What’s the best thing about being in the dairy business?
“Being able to work with my family – my brothers, my parents and I, and now our children coming into the business too,” said Ken McCarty, Owner/Manager, McCarty Farms. “We get to wake up and go to a job that we enjoy and that challenges us every day. My Dad always said that the best thing about the dairy industry was there was always something to be improved upon. Whether it’s animal welfare, efficiency, productivity, employee satisfaction, community involvement or environmental sustainability, there is always something that can be made better.”
In 2010, the family began discussions with The Dannon Company, and in 2012, the McCarty’s first shipment of milk was sent from its processing plant to Dannon. Dannon Creamy® Yogurt
, a new product which began selling at selected Sam’s Club stores in December 2013, is made exclusively with milk from the cows at McCarty Family Farms.
McCarty Family Farms is an innovative dairy operation, using technology such as rotary or “carousel” parlors (see video
) to milk its cows, keeping the cows comfortable and making their business more labor-efficient and better focused on sanitation. The business has won an award for its sustainability
. Cows at the dairy farms
are well-cared-for with comfortable surroundings, such as deep sand to lie in and to ensure sanitation. Reuse of water from its operations – which recycle 14 million gallons of water per year – is an important part of the business’ sustainability efforts
. Supporting the surrounding communities also is a key part of McCarty Family Farms’ mission, and the business recently decided to incorporate a pollinator habitat at its primary facility, the dairy farm in Rexford, Kansas, planting 10 acres of habitat to benefit bees, as part of the national Feed a Bee
effort. Over time, the business plans to phase in additional acres, up to 65-plus acres, with similar plots at or near its three other farms.
Ken handles sustainability issues for the family’s business, and after reading about the issues facing pollinators, he felt it was an area where McCarty Family Farms could make a positive contribution. “As dairymen and people involved in the ag industry, pollinator health is a serious issue that can impact how our business operates and our ability to provide an affordable product to consumers,” Ken said. Working long hours already, the appeal of a pollinator habitat was the return on investment. “For relatively little cost and a small amount of day-to-day management, we could have a large impact on benefitting pollinators.”
As of mid-May, the McCarty family was ready to start its pollinator planting, but Ken said they are happy to receive some much-needed recent rain in Kansas, which may slightly delay their plans. It may not be “April showers,” but hopefully it will bring beautiful flowers!
Check out great videos
and more on the McCarty Family Farms website