North Florida Holsteins
“I have always appreciated and enjoyed being around high-quality livestock. The science and economics of developing the most profitable cow to fit a particular system trips my trigger.”
Don Bennink operates his dairy farm in Gilchrist County with a combination of exhaustive research, smart management, constant commitment and hours and hours of hard work.
As a result, he has established himself as an industry leader for his expertise on farming efficiency techniques and livestock genetics. He was out in front with tunnel ventilation in barns to improve production and herd health at his North Florida Holsteins farm, one of the largest dairy operations in the state.
“I have always appreciated and enjoyed being around high-quality livestock,” he says. “The science and economics of developing not only the most profitable, but the happiest cow really trips my trigger.”
Inventing on-farm techniques to overcome new challenges became Don’s forte after he moved his dairy herd from western New York to Florida in 1980.
“Moving into a hot, humid climate with a species of livestock originating in Northern Europe rapidly showed that everything economically possible needed to be done to ensure their comfort. Providing quality feed, comfortable housing, adequate cooling, proper milking and minimal stress are very challenging, but very rewarding,” he says.
Bennink, managing partner at the farm, also is known for his intern program that invites international participants interested in dairy farm management to work and learn for a year on his farm in Bell, just west of Gainesville.
Among a long list of dairy awards and affiliations, Don was named the World Dairy Expo Dairyman of the Year for 2010 and received the International Dairy Foods Association’s Innovative Dairy Farmer of the Year award in 2005.
He and wife Marianne have daughter Patty and son Dan.