PONTIAC – Jesse Mackinson is typically outside on his dairy farm by 5:30 a.m. to start the milking process for 120 head of Holsteins and wouldn’t trade any of it.
Mackinson works for the family operation, M&S Dairy, LLC which was started by his mom and dad in 1980 near Pontiac. He works full-time alongside his brother Sam each day.
“The first thing we do is get milking started,” Mackinson explained. “It takes about three hours currently the way we do things to get 120 head of cows milked.”
After the chore is completed, the brothers clean everything up to prepare for the next round. The Mackinsons find plenty to do between milkings – such as fieldwork, hauling manure and taking care of the cows. Most of the M&S Dairy crop ground consists of corn and soybeans utilizing no-till practices. Around 70 acres of the land is dedicated to alfalfa to feed the dairy cattle.
The biggest issue currently facing the dairy industry is an over-supply of milk. The technology is there to get the best possible nutrition into each animal and the result is increased milk production.
“Dairy farmers are very efficient at getting a lot of production out of our cattle. On almost every farm I know, the cattle eat better than you or I,” said Mackinson.
Those in the industry are spending time educating consumers on the health benefits of consuming milk and other dairy products in an effort to increase consumption to help with the excess supply.
Like other farmers across Central Illinois, Mackinson is looking forward to warmer spring weather and eventually getting corn in the ground.
“It would be nice to see some warm weather and see the alfalfa fields start growing.”
Mackinson has a wife and three kids who often help on the farm and he’s proud of that.
“We look forward to coming out here, taking care of animals and putting a good nutritious product on the table for people to drink, maintain and be healthy with,” he said.
Mackinson was a recent guest on the “CIFN Friday Live” program on the Central Illinois Farm Network Facebook page, sponsored by the McLean County Farm Bureau.