- Our Family
- Chris, Mary, Stratton, Jordan
- Fort Morgan, CO
- Why dairy farming?
- Cows come first at the two dairy farms owned and operated by Chris and Mary Kraft. They treat each cow as if she’s the only one on the farm.
Traveling the World to Learn New Dairy Techniques and Ideas
Cows come first at the two dairy farms owned and operated by Chris and Mary Kraft. They treat each cow as if she’s the only one on the farm. Chris has been known to skip dinner because he’s hanging out with the cows. “He would totally stand me up to take care of a cow,” said Mary, which is one of the reasons she married him. “That’s the guy I want.”
Mary’s family has been farming in Colorado since 1906 when they founded McIntosh Dairy. They started with six cows near Florence, Colorado but there was not enough water for the dairy to survive long-term. Seeking the free flowing springs of Denver, the family moved the farm north.
A few generations later, Mary was born. Mary grew up on the farm but wasn’t convinced that farming was her calling. Instead, she studied public relations at Colorado State University (CSU) and considered leaving dairy forever.
A fellow graduate of CSU would ultimately bring her back to dairy. Chris moved from South Africa to attend CSU in 1979. He always wanted to be a farmer. He’s dedicated his life to understanding farming and the cows he cares for.
Two years after Chris and Mary wed in 1986, they decided to start dairying. They began with 120 dairy cows at Badger Creek. They’ve slowly built the farm into one of the most successful and efficient operations in Colorado.
Over the years, innovation and passion have driven Chris and Mary to make constant improvements to the farm. They’ve traveled the world and incorporated best practices and technology. In the last twelve years they’ve visited Mexico, Brazil, Chile and Europe.
The Krafts take pride in the technological advancements of their farms. Mary says that cows basically “shake hands with the computer” as they go through the workday. Electronic identification devices track the cows’ progress and provide instant feedback on key measurements.
Sophisticated algorithms are the foundation of an early warning system that ensures cows are healthy and productive. The system tracks milk production, temperature, quantity and the time. It’s checked wirelessly every eight hours, which means that any signs of trouble are caught early. Veterinarians that specialize in different parts of the cows also check the cows once a week. Combined with the data from the tracking devices, it’s a highly effective system.
The Krafts have used the latest in science to make sure that cows have a healthy diet and the feed is efficiently stored. The farm’s “kitchen” is packed with all the feed that cows will need for the season.
Chris believes that every farm has its own philosophy and personality. The Krafts have concentrated on ensuring that the flow of the cows’ workday is smooth. The consistent flow helps the cows feel relaxed, which in turn makes the healthier and more productive. Cows often lead themselves through the various sections of the farm to get milk and rest.
The other focus of the Krafts’ farm is telling the story of dairy to consumers and communities that may not know about farming.
“We have a huge obligation to the community,” says Chris. The Krafts help connect consumers with the modern farm by hosting elementary school student tours. Visits have become so frequent that the Krafts installed a viewing room with a large glass window to allow guests to watch cows getting milked. Helping consumers know that milk is a safe, wholesome produce that comes from a family farm is important to the Krafts.