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Adaptability Key for Crawley Dairy

August 30, 2023


4 minute read

In the northwest corner of Arkansas, the small town of Maysville is home to Crawley Dairy Farms. For the past five generations, the Crawley family has owned and operated some sectors of production agriculture.

For Tim, the current owner of Crawley Dairy, taking over the family farm was simply the next step in his life after school. The farm had been in the family for over a century, and it was too precious to let go in his mind. Tim’s father established the farm after his service in World War II, and from a young age, assisting in milking procedures, caring for the calves, and daily farm operations were a priority for him. Despite this passion, the family sold the dairy farm in 1990, and Tim went to work in the corporate world before deciding that the dairy industry was his true calling. In 1996, Tim and his wife, Nicki, re-established the dairy farm from the ground up.

According to Nicki…

“Back in 1996, when we re-established the dairy, we did it with two little girls, and it all fell into place.”

Crawley Dairy Farms is a family affair, with Tim operating the farm alongside his wife, his daughter, Jessica, and her husband. Together, they manage 240 cows, including cattle in production and in their dry period. The cattle are predominantly Holstein, but the farm has recently introduced the Jersey and Milking Shorthorn breeds for improved genetics.

Technology is the ever-changing aspect of agriculture, and Crawley Dairy has implemented many new tools to their farms. For several years, automatic take-offs (a tool utilized in the milking process that monitors the amount of milk coming from the cow and will automatically detach from the teat end when the udder is empty) have been a part of the farm’s milking facility. With more involvement, Jessica has also started to rely on ultrasounding females’ pregnancy status and the Dairy Farmers of America lab monitoring program that has been used on this farm.

Cattle comfort is a top priority for the family. In the barns, you will find a system of fans that are positioned in such a way as to maximize airflow in conjunction with a misting system to provide the coolest environment possible. Most recently, Crawley Dairy has transitioned to relying more heavily upon a forage grazing system in an effort to escape the rising costs of feed as well as increase the sustainability of their operation. In addition, the Crawley family has researched and implemented a more sustainable use of forages and created a custom silage ration mix. Sustainability has been a buzzword among all agricultural entities, but it is more than just a word for Crawley Dairy. They understand how important it is to care for the land, as they have been operating on the same ground for five generations, which is made possible by the level of care given to the environment around them. Over the years, the family has been passionate about recycling manure as they can use the cattle’s waste as a method of fertilization for grass, hay, and silage-producing pastures. They can also utilize that waste in the crop fields that border the miles of gravel road encompassing their farm. In addition to waste recycling, the farm also has recycled water. Water that fills the ponds throughout the farm provides a way to spread water tanks in easily accessible places for cattle grazing and the cattle in the barns.

dairy cows eating

On Adaptability…

“You have to take advantage of every opportunity that is put in your path. You have to be comfortable with change and allow yourself to adapt,” Tim Crawley said.

The agricultural industry is one full of chance and opportunity, one that never offers a guarantee. Tim and Nicki have experienced many difficulties while engaging in their deepest passion. In the early stages of their operation, the cost of feed and labor was at the forefront of the total farm costs. Additionally, there was such a lack of the technology that is available today. This required a deeper reliance upon employees and a greater amount of attention paid. Now, even with technology, the road has not become easier to travel. The prices of milk fluctuate just as the seasons do, but luckily, the Crawley Dairy feels fortunate to be only 15 miles from the nearest co-op.

As the farm continues to produce milk, the family works alongside each other to continue the family tradition of dairy farming. The passion runs deep within each member of the family because the dairy is not a mere job title, nor is it a career, but more simply, a way of life.