Milking R Dairy
“Almost every cow in Florida is milked on a family farm. We do everything that is in our power to take care of the environment and our cattle."
For Sutton and Kris Rucks, the expression “family tradition” is much more than just a cliché. Not only did the Okeechobee dairy farming couple grow up around dairy cows, their family ties reach across South and Central Florida like rural highways cutting through grazing pastures.
Sutton, whose family has milked cows in South Florida since the mid-1930s, was born in Okeechobee. Kris, who moved there from Wisconsin when she was 8, helped out at her family’s Florida farm. Her uncle, too, was a dairyman in Wisconsin. Together Sutton and Kris own and operate Milking R, which is home to 1,200 milking cows. Daughter Lindsey Ann and son Garrett have grown up on the farm.
In addition to the large of number of Ruckses in the Florida dairy business, other family members still working in the industry include Kris’ sister, Janet, who is married to Perry Bishop, of P.W. Bishop Dairy in Okeechobee. Sutton’s niece, Trisha, is married to Johan Heijkoop, of Milk-A-Way Dairy in Webster.
“My grandfather and his four brothers moved from north Alabama with pennies in their pockets to live the dream in South Florida,” Sutton says. “I remember the stories of him taking the milk in 10-gallon cans to the processor in Miami.”
As a member of the Florida Dairy Farmers board of directors since 1995, Sutton believes in the future of dairy farming in the Sunshine State. “Almost every cow in Florida is milked on a family farm. We do everything that is in our power to take care of the environment and our cattle. It’s great to know that all this hard work is worth it because we produce one of the most perfect foods every day of the year for people to enjoy.”