New Dairies through the Generations
There have been cows milked under the name Docheff for over 80 years, whether the cows themselves belonged to Jim Docheff Sr., his father or his grandfather.
“We didn’t just hand down the cows from one generation to the next, we all had to buy our own individual cows,” explained Jim Sr. “Even when my granddad had sold out, my dad was milking under the Docheff name, then myself and now my boys – that’s why we still call it Docheff Dairy.”
Jim Sr.’s grandad started dairying in 1934 and sold all of his cows in 1965, but there was never a break in the Docheff family’s production because Jim Sr.’s father, Metro James, had already started milking on his own dairy in 1945, and continued to milk until he retired in 1973.
Metro James’ plans for Jim Sr. didn’t involve dairy farming. He wanted Jim Sr. to choose a different career path and become a veterinarian, so Jim Sr. gave it a shot. He attended college at Colorado A&M (now Colorado State University), but dropped out because, like most dairy farmers, he loved dairying – it’s just what he wanted to do.
Following in father’s footsteps, Jim Sr. started his own dairy in Broomfield, Colo. in 1971. When his father sold his cows two years later, Jim Sr. decided to lease his father’s farm. It was a bigger farm and bigger facility so he was able to build his herd up to 130 cows while continuing to dairy on his farm in Broomfield, where he had hired help. In addition to dairying, Jim Sr. also became an artificial inseminator for dairymen for many years.
By 1979, Jim Sr. was able to build a new farm in Longmont, Colo. and move all of his cows to one place. As Jim Sr.’s boys graduated from college, they started dairying with him on his farm in Longmont. And just like his father, Jim Sr. gave his boys the opportunity to be independent. They bought their own cows and paid their own feed costs when they wanted to get involved.
Three of his boys – Joe, Justin and Jay – are now partners on the dairy with Jim Sr. Not only are his sons dairying with him, but some of Jim Sr.’s grandsons will also become partners in the dairy when they’re a little bit older.
As for his oldest son – just like Jim Sr. did in the seventies – he branched off and started a dairy of his own.
Jim Docheff Jr. currently owns and operates Blue Sky Dairy in Mead, Colo. Jim Jr. has been milking on his own dairy since 1987.
“We bought our dairy and we built onto it,” said Jim Jr. “We built the free-stall barns so we could control the environment that the cattle were in. We were also one of the first dairies to start composting back in the early nineties.”
Jim Jr.’s sons, Joshua and Chisum, will also continue the family tradition of dairy farming. Both sons went to college and came back to the dairy with their degrees in-hand, ready to become fifth generation dairy farmers. Like the rest of their family, they’re committed to dairying.
The Docheffs are currently milking around 1,000 cows at Docheff Dairy, LLC and around 600 cows at Blue Sky Dairy. At both dairies, animal welfare – from cow comfort to optimal nutrition – is a priority.
“They’re the mother of all nature in the world you might say,” says Jim Sr. of his cows. “There is nothing finer than a dairy cow. She is just a phenomenal individual, whether she’s a Holstein, Jersey, Brown Swiss, Guernsey, whatever the breed may be – dairy farmers take pride in what we have.”
Making animal welfare a priority has paid off for the Docheff family, and has contributed to them being able to dairy for so long.
“I’m still very active in the dairy business and enjoy it very much,” said Jim Sr. “I just hope my sons and my grandsons continue on with it – which they will.”