What is different about Tribute Farms?
The cows at Tribute Farm in South East Missouri produce high quality milk in a balanced, natural way.
The cattle graze every day, they sleep out in the fields (not in buildings with bedding!), and are very fit and healthy as a result. Their quality of life is just better! This means they live a productive life for longer than milk cows in other conventional farming systems. This is a significant difference!
Another difference is Tribute Farm’s commitment to balanced farming; good for the cows, good for the land and good for the people we rely on to produce the milk.
Confinement vs. Pasture
Confinement dairy is the dominant model of dairy farming in America …for now.
The milk and milk products from confinement dairy dominate the market. Good for them.
Tribute Farms does not mean to disrespect that model. However, we do believe there is now another model which is more sustainable, more eco-friendly and more appealing to the discerning customer.
We intend to help fill the demand for the alternative. We believe milk and milk products from Tribute Farms present a more acceptable option for the future.
Why should you support that? …because we believe we have a more sustainable, more tasty, more healthy, more natural, more pure product to offer.
In years gone by, milk cows grazed on pasture. That was just the way it was!
At Tribute Farm, we have developed a modern approach to that traditional way. It is not easy to manage luscious pastures for grazing year after year. With some techniques developed back in New Zealand, and modified to suit the continental climate of the Midwest, we can now offer this nutritious feed to our milk cows for most of the year. In the few months when grazing is not possible, e.g. winter, then we feed them the very same pastures we had in the spring and summer, this time bagged up as preserved grass – known as baleage or haylage. The cows love it, because it means a consistent feed for the entire 12 months.
We balance the feed all year round with byproducts such as soy hull or corn byproducts, as well as essential minerals and vitamins, to ensure our animals have a balanced diet.
Eating right equates to good health
Healthy animals which have access to good feed …will always do well! This is imperative to the business of Tribute Farms. This applies to bottle-fed calves, yearlings or mature milk cows.
Add to this a strong preventative-approach. Vaccination programs to protect animals, the same principle as for humans, means problems are prevented – rather than just treated!
Mrs Jo Gaul leads this element of Tribute Farms’ performance. As an experienced registered nurse practitioner, she brings tremendous discipline and method to this challenge. The results speak for themselves. Calf and animal mortality are very low, thanks to disciplined preventative health programs.
Tribute Farms has strong demand from other local farmers for any calves surplus to our needs. The market speaks for itself! Tribute Farms‘ cattle just do well!!
When farming livestock, there are always challenges. Animals, like people, sometimes don’t feel so good or get sick! Our interventions are timely and well planned, and yield good results.
Every animal at Tribute Farms is treated as if it was our only one!
That principle underpins our livestock practices.
Right from the day it is born, that calf has every help to grow and thrive. New born calves get individual attention, including natural colostrum from the cow, preventative vaccines and a very carefully implemented animal health program.
Jo Gaul (Director of calf rearing, animal health and bio-security) has developed very successful programs to help ensure good health and welfare for all our animals. They appreciate that!!
Summer heat, especially through the middle of the day, can be harsh for a milking cow. To alleviate this, Tribute Farms has s specially designed shade barn with high roof and plenty of cross ventilation. The shade barn accommodates all the milk cows for the hot periods in those summer days . Sprinklers and plenty of drinking water ensure our cows comfort.
Apart from heat relief in the shade barn during the summer days, cows spend all their time outside – the way nature intended. They grow a winter coat every fall. Plus, good fiber and energy in the food during cooler months means their digestion process (rumination) helps keep them warm. They shed that coat in the late spring.
Being an outdoors farm, fresh air is taken for granted in rural Missouri. Minimal housing, and less piled manure (these cows do their own thing out in the field) means less flies and less smell! This is the most common comment we get from first time visitors.
A grazing animal covers a lot of ground! They search out what THEY want, rather than what we just give them. Call it natural selection. By having access to a daily fresh pasture, our milk cows get to choose from a menu! We still determine what’s on the menu, but they have final say. We cannot make them eat what they do not want, but they have to work to find it. That encourages them to walk and browse, which in turn helps them stay healthy. Another win,win! Their fitness improves as a result of walking, just as it does for us humans. This means our cows will live longer, and more productively.
Recent results from a Missouri Department of Agriculture survey placed our Tribute Farms cows at the very top of their survey – the best legs and feet from a herd of dairy cows the surveyor had ever seen. For results from this survey click here.
A cross section of 500 million dairy farms in the US for the USDA placed Tribute Farms in the top percentile for cow comfort characteristics such as leg, feet and lameness categories, and longevity in the herd.
The lanes leading to the field are exclusively for animals – no machinery! Specially contoured to enable excellent drainage, these lanes remain high and dry, benefiting our cows. Tribute Farms has never required the services of a hoof-trimmer, the sandy soils and well-kept lanes do the job for us… naturally.
Eco-friendly …with taste!
Tribute Farm is a “closed” farm – no other animals are brought here. This means we can manage biological and bio-security issues with confidence. The milk and milk-products which come from Tribute Farm are safe!
It’s vital for us at Tribute Farms for the land, water and feed resources to be in good shape! We take VERY SERIOUSLY the stewardship of the resources of which we have been blessed – whether it is the soil, water, animals or people. We care for them and envisage this being the case for generations to come.
We utilize the cow’s “waste” products, like manure from the milk parlor, to minimize the environmental impact. We use cover crops and a sound planting program to benefit, not only the cows, but also the soil and water resources on which we depend.
The main benefit of being pasture based is the cows naturally deposit natural fertilizer “on the go” while grazing. How cool is that? This reduces our requirement for manure storage etc, resulting in a much cleaner and greener system!!
Pasture has changed a lot over the decades.
It is not just “grass”.
A well kept modern pasture is infinitely better nutrition than “just grass”. At Tribute Farms, we plant high producing cool-season grasses, well suited to our environment. Irrigation (70% of Tribute Farms is irrigated with center pivots) means the pastures thrive, and remain nutritious for long periods.
We have over 40 fields, average size 15 acres, so we can offer a fresh field EVERY day through the growing seasons to the milk cows. Remember this field is also their bed for the night, and not only that, but they deposit their natural dung/urine into the field, the basis of the fertilizer program! A win-win for all!
Tribute Farms grows large volumes of high quality pastures and forages, thanks to good soils, ample water, and suitable climate. Managed by Frankie and Josh Gaul, the pastures are measured regularly, and allocated on a daily basis. Fresh pastures and forages are planted spring and fall, and include ryegrass, clover, soft fescues, sudangrass, millet and sorghum. These pastures are very good natural sources of protein and energy, critical for milk production.
In addition to pasture, our milking cows are fed a small daily ration of various natural ingredients. This complements the pastures, which vary a little across the three growing seasons – spring, summer and fall. Additional vitamins and minerals complete the ration.
The calves and yearling heifers graze in fields right from when they are weaned off milk at 3-4 months old. They are on a separate part of the farm, where the milking cows do not graze. This helps maintain the integrity of their animal health; it is a good practice to keep replacement animals separate from the milking cows, as they have slightly different animal health requirements.
We would like our customers to know, we take local seriously!
“Local” can be local from a geographic/community viewpoint (south East Missouri) or it can encompass what “local” means to the customer. We can do both.
For us at Tribute Farms it means anything but corporate. It means down-home. It means on-farm. It means family and it means genuine. The milk and milk products from Tribute Farms have that guarantee.
We are nearing a decade of production here in the northern part of the Boot Heel of Missouri. Our kids have schooled here. We church here. We buy local. We employ local and we are here to stay.
Long Live Local!