After only one year in the dairy farming business, a Clarenville couple has received a prestigious agricultural award.
Jeff and Connie Peddle, owners of Riverbend Dairy in Lethbridge, were named winners of the Daphne Taylor Milk Quality Award of Excellence on Saturday, Nov. 17, during the Dairy Farmers of Newfoundland and Labrador AGM in Corner Brook.
According to the Department of Natural Resources website, The Daphne Taylor Milk Quality Award of Excellence is based on equipment maintenance, milk cleanliness, appearance and health of the cow herd, barns and general landscaping. All dairy producers are eligible, as they collect points for specific criteria over the full year.
The award is named in honour of the late Daphne Taylor, a dairy producer from the West coast of the province, who was avid volunteer in the agriculture industry. She passed away in 1996.
The couple says they are still in shock. When Keith Deering, assistant deputy minister in the forestry and agrifoods agency called their names during his speech, it was unexpected.
“We were just there like, ‘that’s us!’” Connie told The Packet. “We were caught off guard. We weren’t expecting to win anything like that the first year.”
For Jeff, farming has always been in his blood.
“My grandfather started the vegetable farm, and then my parents had the vegetable farm. I worked with them for 20 years,” explained Jeff. “Now we have greenhouses, Bayview Gardens. We started that 18 years ago, and began dairy farming last year.”
It proved to be a great transition.
“I just like animals,” said Jeff, adding, “I used to raise beef cows.”
Dairy farming involves year-round monthly production, and a lot of hard work. The Peddle’s farm milks about 40 cows per day. They have about 67 animals, which includes milk cows, dry cows and replacements that will enter the herd in the future. Their farm can produce up to 1,200-litres of milk per day.
The couple attributes the recognition to the dedication of their staff.
“For us, that award was a team effort,” said Connie. “It’s no one thing or one person, it’s definitely a team effort and it involves different aspects of the farm.”
Having the right technology plays a role as well. Although farming still requires a lifestyle of labour and love, computerized equipment makes achieving quality and safety standards in the industry far simpler than it was years ago. For instance, automated sanitation and monitoring devices are now the norm in milk production facilities.
“You just press a few buttons and that’s all,” explained Jeff. “We’ll go over in the morning about quarter-to-six, and usually when I get out of the truck, you can hear the system coming on to begin sanitizing.
“Then we have a time temperature recorder over on the wall, which is industry standard. That checks your wash water temperature, the length of wash, and any abnormalities in your system.”
The Peddles are not exactly sure what factors led to them being selected for the first place prize, but they are happy to have the support and encouragement of other farmers in the region.
“I gotta say, the other producers in the industry, they’re all there for you and you can call them up when you have a problem, and you can ask them, ‘well what would you do with this?’ and get a point of view from this one and that one. And so it’s great that way — there is a lot of support there.”
Two other local farms also shared success at the AGM.
Jeff and Olive Greening of Sunrise Dairy in Musgravetown, and Cliff and Pam Pelley of Harcourt Farm tied for second place. These farms are both past winners as well.
Between 1997 and 2010, Harcourt Farms took home the first place award four times, the second place award four times, and the third place award once. Sunrise Dairy placed second in the award twice in the same period as well.
The third place award at this year’s AGM went to Headline Holsteins in Deer Lake.