- Brighton, Colo.
Keeping Traditions Alive in a Changing World
Legacy is an enduring theme for many families involved in the dairy business, and this fact is especially obvious in the McIntosh Family. The 520 cow operation located in Brighton, Colo. is a testament to the fact it is possible to keep a legacy alive while producing a high quality product to help feed the world.
The family-owned business was started in 1906 by Ralph McIntosh, and during their history of dairying they have kept family traditions strong while finding new ways to remain sustainable in a changing agricultural environment. Today, the farm is operated by grandmother Joyce McIntosh, Kenneth and Cheryl McIntosh, as well as their children Will and David. The dairy is truly a family affair, with all three generations living and working on the location built in 1912. Another of Joyce’s children, Mary, operates a dairy of her own with husband Chris Kraft in Fort Morgan, Colo. as well.
The Brighton dairy has been faced with many challenges over the years, but their location has become one of their most pressing issues. In 1912, the dairy moved to its current location due to environmental limitations. Because of constant issues with water and land in the area, the family has had to find new ways to be sustainable in order to continue their tradition.
Sixteen years ago, the dairy became the first in Colorado to partner with Adams County to enter a conservation agreement.
“We didn’t start with a template for any of this, but the agreement will make sure this dairy can continue to grow and change while retaining our heritage,” said Will.
The family is constantly looking for new outlets to make their operation more efficient, all in an effort to make it better for the next generation.
According to Will, the cows are the most important part of their operation, and focusing on individual cow care is a top priority.
“We just want to give every cow the ability to be the best that she can be,” explained Will. “We aren’t the largest dairy, but we remain efficient by giving our cows the best care possible.”
As with many things in agriculture, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Mary Kraft, originally a McIntosh, wasn’t sure if she wanted to pursue a career in the dairy industry when she left the century-old farm for college. However, she re-entered the dairy industry when she and her husband Chris established Badger Creek Dairy in Fort Morgan, Colo.
“I came back because it is the best industry on earth, there is nothing else like it,” said Mary. “Like my family’s farm in Brighton, here at Badger Creek we work hard to plan for the future and ensure our children have a farm they can raise their own families on.”
Mary and Chris have traveled to 12 countries and spent countless hours brainstorming new ideas to implement into their own operation, all with sustainability and long-term success in mind. Everything from manure management to making sure that when cows move from one place to another they have as little stress as possible has been examined and fine-tuned by Mary and Chris.
“At the end of the day, it is all about optimizing every part of the dairy – from cow comfort, to nutrition, to milking processes,” says Mary. “And that’s true whether you are on my farm with 5,000 cows or my family’s farm of 500.”
Though over a hundred years of history have passed, children have moved away, new challenges have presented themselves and the community around them has changed, it is clear that family and heritage still remain as important to the McIntosh family as they were in 1906.