Chris and Jamie are second and fourth-generation farmers farming on land once owned by Chris’s grandfather.
Along with their two sons, Levi and Zachary, Chris and Jamie put in the work to make sure their animals come first.
“Farming is something we’ve always known and always loved. It’s really a dream come true for us to do something we are both passionate about and have our children grow up in the same lifestyle,” said Jamie.
The family milks 70 cows on 200 acres. In 2013, Chris and Jamie updated the facilities on their farm. With cow comfort in mind, they built a free-stall barn, added a holding area by the milking parlor, and built a bedded pack pen. The barns have six automated fans that turn on when the temperature gets above 70 degrees, and the holding area has sprinklers to keep the barn cool. In the winter, automated barn curtains help to keep the space warm and insulated. The feed alley has mattresses for added cow comfort.
“Dairy farming is not just a business,” Chris said. “The cows are not my kids, but they are my family and I care for them as I do my family.”
The crop program at the Derr’s includes 100% no-till farming as well as cover crops. They work closely with their local soil & water district and were named the 2022 Cooperator of the Year by the Catoctin and Frederick Soil Conservation District. Fencing off streams around the farm has also helped protect the Chesapeake Bay, which lies downstream of the farm.
Jamie and Chris are the only two employees at their farm. That allows them to work intimately with each animal and the care the couple provides is evident by their friendly and relaxed herd. Protocols are discussed with their herd veterinarian, and each takes responsibility for ensuring that those protocols are met or exceeded.