September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.

Keeping busy off the farm

Voorhees family named Swift County Farm Family of the Year
The 130 freestalls at the Voorhees family dairy are bedded with mattresses topped with recycled solids. The family also has a compost barn to house part of the milking herd.<br /><!-- 1upcrlf -->PHTO BY MISSY MUSSMAN
The 130 freestalls at the Voorhees family dairy are bedded with mattresses topped with recycled solids. The family also has a compost barn to house part of the milking herd.<br /><!-- 1upcrlf -->PHTO BY MISSY MUSSMAN

By by Missy Mussman- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

DANVERS, Minn. - Being a face for dairy farmers in their local community is one thing the Voorhees family is familiar with.
The family's dedication to community involvement is one aspect that has earned them the honor of being the 2012 Swift County Farm Family of the Year. The Voorhees family - Kim and Kevin, who have three children, Chelsea (23), Kaylee (21) and Cole (16) - milk 350 cows on their farm near Danvers, Minn.
"We seem to always be on the go," Kevin said.
For Kevin and Kim, working with the youth in the county came easy. The Voorhees family has taken it upon themselves to mentor the 4-H Cloverbuds in the sheep and dairy projects.
"We enjoy helping the youth in the projects we have been involved in," Kevin said. "They are the future and are motivated and excited to learn something new."
The Voorhees children have followed in Kevin and Kim's shoes with their community involvement.
Chelsea and Kaylee, both served as Swift County dairy princesses. The girls along with Cole have also visited classrooms to teach students about agriculture through FFA.
All three children have played basketball and have been involved with 4-H and FFA. The girls played basketball in college and Cole is in the AAU basketball league along with football.
"It's a balancing act," Cole said.
Besides helping on the farm, Kim Voorhees teaches second grade at Hancock Public School and makes an effort to incorporate agriculture into her daily curriculum.
"I love that age of kids," Kim said. "They watch, learn and think. They are at an age where everything is exciting."
When Kim teaches weather in her classroom, she relates it to things on her farm affected by the weather. She also uses examples of her sheep fence to teach students about perimeter, and Kim has no problem fulfilling the requirement to have lessons on plants.
"I even take my classes to the farm for field trips," Kim said. "We have stations and bring in other farm animals for the students."
The Voorheeses also hosted the Swift County Farm Tour three years ago. Around 250 people came out to learn more about their dairy farm.
Kim is also involved with the Swift County Livestock Board and has been a dairy and sheep superintendent at the local county fair.
Kevin is also busy off the farm. He is active with the Swift County Extension Committee and the Swift County American Dairy Association serving as the dairy princess coordinator.
Aside from the community involvement, the Voorheeses are busy milking their herd of cows in a swing 10 parlor on LenMar Farms near Danvers, Minn. The cattle are housed on four different sites near the farm.
Kevin's great grandparents, Henry and Ethel Voorhees, moved to Swift County from their Iowa home in 1913 with eight Milking Shorthorn cattle.
Leonard, Kevin's dad, decided to continue to dairy farm and grew the herd to 32 cows by 1970. In 1975, Leonard transitioned from the original stanchion barn to tiestalls since they were milking 60 cows.
Along the way, Kevin joined his father milking cows and continued to add onto the dairy farm and transitioned the herd to all Guernseys. Once the herd reached 120 cows in 1985, the Voorheeses built a freestall barn to fit the expanding herd. The 130 stalls have mattresses topped with recycled solids.
Since the expansion, the Voorheeses decided to transition away from the Guernsey herd and slowly phase into Holsteins.
In 1999, the Voorheeses implemented a swing-eight parlor on their farm.
With 350 cows to milk by 2011, Kevin and his family decided to add a compost barn using chopped wheat straw for the bedded pack.
"I liked both systems," Kevin said. "We get to pick and choose which cows go in which housing facilities to maximize cow comfort."
Kevin has noticed the older cows, dry cows and 2-year-old cows respond the best in the compost barn while the rest of the cows are housed in the freestall barn.
The parlor was also modified to a swing-10 that year and in floor heating was implemented in the return lane to reduce slipping in the winter.
"I made this parlor myself," Kevin said. "I looked at some designs and worked with a welder to make this."
The Voorheeses are planning to expand the herd again. Their daughter, Chelsea, and her fiancé, Nick, will be married this July. The young couple have become a key in the expansion process.
Nick didn't grow up on a dairy farm but has become a part of LenMar Farms, and recently purchased a 160-acre building site to raise the heifers and steers. There are currently 400 head of cattle housed at Nick's site.
"Nick didn't have any dairy background," Kevin said. "But he always enjoyed the cows when he was out here."
Dairy cows aren't the only animals on the Voorheeses' farm. The family raises around 30 market type club lamb ewes.
"It started out as a few 4-H lambs and grew from there," Kim said.
During one of his nights away from the farm, Kevin attended an extension committee meeting for Swift County and was notified that his family was being recognized as the 2012 Swift County Farm Family of the Year. They were recognized at Farm Fest and during a presentation at the Swift County Fair.
"It was so humbling to be chosen by your peers," Kevin said. "Dairy cows always provide a good living."[[In-content Ad]]


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