Martin and Van Warmerdam Families
“Getting them off to a strong, healthy start is priority number one. It literally starts in the first hour of life.”
Tony Martin Dairy ~ Lemoore, California
Barbara Martin knows the first two months of a calf’s life are the most important.
“Getting them off to a strong, healthy start is priority number one,” the third-generation dairy farmer said. “And it literally starts in the first hour of life.”
Martin makes sure all her newborn calves receive colostrum — the cow’s first milk — within 60 minutes of birth. The immune building antibodies in the milk help the newborn fight-off disease.
“There’s an extremely small window for absorption. If you miss it, the calf loses out on the health benefits of colostrum,” she said. “Sometimes the calf won’t drink from the cow in the first few hours, so we’re ready with bottle in hand.”
Because the cow’s first milk is so important to health, Martin goes the extra mile to ensure its quality.
“We test all our colostrum for sufficient antibody content. Not all colostrum is created equal, so we keep extra on hand just in case,” she explained. “It’s that important to the health of our calves.”
Colostrum is only part of the equation. Clean, dry, comfortable housing and a balanced diet are also key to giving a calf a good, healthy start: “It’s a simple premise — a healthy, well-cared-for calf grows up to be a healthy, contented cow.”
“My dad taught my brothers and me the value of having a strong work ethic, perseverance, and respect for animals.”
Leo Van Warmerdam
Van Warmerdam Dairy ~ Galt, California
Until his passing at age 93, Ben Van Warmerdam lived on the Galt dairy he built forty-three years ago.In his later years, he left milking cows and feeding calves to his sons, but Van Warmerdam remained active in the day-to-day management decisions of the family’s 900-cow dairy.
Van Warmerdam’s American dream began in 1947. After serving in the Dutch Underground Resistance during World War II, Van Warmerdam saw little future for himself in post-war Europe and sailed for the United States.
Five years of hard work later, Van Warmerdam had saved enough to start his own dairy, milking 35 cows. By 1968, he bought land in Galt and has remained there ever since.
“I learned everything about dairying from my dad,” said Leo Van Warmerdam, one of Ben’s three sons. “Taking care of cows was in his blood. He taught my brothers and me the value of having a strong work ethic, perseverance, and respect for animals. Those beliefs helped him achieve the American dream. I’m working to carry on the family tradition.”