2020 Indiana Dairy Producer of the Year
Robert McKaig, Chapel View Farms
I was born and raised on the family dairy farm. The farm has been in the family since the 1830's.
In 1972, the farm became a partnership between my brothers Ed and Roger, and my father, Ed Senior.
In 1977 I joined the partnership.
In 1980, our Dad withdrew from the partnership for estate purposes.
Since then it's just been my older brother and myself in the partnership with various full and part-time employees.
In 1977, I graduated form Purdue with a degree in Ag Economics
In 1993, I met and married my lovely and wonderful wife Sandra, and over the next 11 years, together we had five precious children: Kelley, Abbie, Suzie, Daniel, and Esther. In 1995 Dad was killed in an accident when a car ran off the road while he was mowing alongside the highway.
That left a huge hole in our daily lives and in the operations because Dad was still very active on the farm. In 2007, we lost the milking facilities to a fire. We moved the cows to a neighbor's farm and milked there for five months while we debated rebuilding, then while new facilities were built. We rebuilt for several reasons: my brother and I did not feel called to leave the dairy industry, my kids love the farm and the dairy business, and the thought of not having the dairy greatly distressed them; they had grown up working with the cows.In 1997, I was asked to run for the position of district board member for the Indiana State Dairy Assoc., was elected, and have served on that board ever since. For that board, I served as president 17 years. As a member of the Indiana State Dairy Association, I was appointed to serve on the Indiana Creamery License Board. I also served on the Universal Lab board, which was a joint lab operation with Michigan and North Star for DHIA until we sold our share of the lab to North Star.In 2006, the representatives from NorthStar on the Universal Lab Board asked if I would be willing to run for the National DHIA board vacancy that was coming up, and said they would be willing to nominate me. I agreed to run for the position.In March of 2015, I termed out of the National DHIA Board, but in April 2015 was asked to rejoin the board by appointment to complete the term of a board member who resigned due to selling his dairy herd. I was asked to return to the board because I was familiar with the issues with which the board was dealing, and because six of our nine board members were in their first, second, or third years of experience on that board. I was reelected to another term on the board in 2017.It has been a privilege to represent dairy producers on the boards that I've served on. I have learned a great deal and hopefully represented them well. We continuously look for ways that the data collected can be used to generate information which will help dairymen manage and operate their farms more efficiently and be profitable.
2020 Indiana Young Dairy Producer of the Year
Steve Hein, EJ Dairies
My name is Stephen Hein I am 32 years old and I am a fourth generation dairyman at our dairy in Northwest Indiana. I live at our home dairy in Crown Point with my wife Vanessa and two children Hayden and Addyson while also managing our other dairy in Francesville. I always knew I wanted to be a dairy farmer from growing up watching my dad on our dairy & grain farm. In 2010 we expanded our milking operation to include a 800 head cow dairy in Francesville. While my brother has continued the grain operation of our family farm, my heart has always stayed with the Holsteins. With the help of family, a great team of employees and consultants I have continued to live my dream of being a dairyman. I can usually be found in the barn covered in manure. I operate on the principle that the cows are the boss and I'm their translator. We provide for them and in return they provide for us. I'm constantly looking for ways to improve efficiency, total pounds of solids shipped, cow longevity, and employee morale. In the future I would like to give my kids the opportunity to milk cows if they
choose to and also to try an get more sleep. Cows always have & hopefully will always be my thing being in the barn is where I will always feel at home.
2020 Indiana Dairy Producers, Scholarship Recipient
My experience and background came long before my interest in dairy cattle. Since I was able to reach the cows in our drop parlor, with a stool of course, I have milked our small herd of dairy cattle. Growing up on my family's farm, the first job each morning was to roll out of bed and go tend to the cows. On any given morning, I was either milking or feeding the calves, sometimes a combination of both. Until I got into high school, I hated our cows and milking them with a burning passion. Because of them I had to do so much work "normal" kids my age did not have to do. The only benefit they gave me was show cows.
Showing cows sparked my first interest in dairy cattle. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed showing my first five years of 4-H. However, the next five is the reason my attitude changed towards cows. I began to really care for my cows and see my hard work pay off. They were no longer just cows I had to get ready for the fair. They were and still are my pets.
So I have bottle fed too many calves to count, given medicine to sick calves, pulled calves when necessary, fed and watered injured cows, milked more cows than I prefer, bed calves, fed hay to hungry heifers, been chased by a bull, learned how to check if a cow is pregnant, learned how to give a DA, clipped show animals, castrated bulls, and made too many memories to count along to way while working with dairy cattle.
Although I am very knowledgeable about cows, I am by no means an expert. At times, I lose my cool and patience but one thing I will never lose is my love and interest. I may not milk cows for a living one day, but my experience, background, interest, and memories with dairy cattle will never leave.
Parents: Kent & Missy Rexing