Diane Hoover -- Dairy Farming is a 24/7 Job
Diane Hoover, and her husband Reid, milk 320 registered Holsteins, and farm 300 acres, in Lebanon County. The Hoover family has owned the land since 1963, with Diane and Reid becoming the sole proprietors in 1997. Diane and Reid have four children – Brad, Aaron, Brenden, and Audrey. Brad now farms with his mom and dad as the herd manager, while Aaron, who is employed with Cargill as a nutritionist, helps out on the farm on weekends. Brenden, an electrical engineer and Audrey, a social worker, both have off the farm jobs, outside of agriculture.
Diane grew up on a farm and always enjoyed working with dairy animals, as did Reid. Once they married, they knew they wanted to farm for a living and it’s where they wanted to raise their children. The most rewarding part of Diane’s job today? Producing safe and nutritious milk that consumers want, and need, and in a good year, making a little profit doing a job she likes.
At Brook Corner Holsteins, as on other dairy farms, it’s a 24 hour, 7 day a week job. Diane knows that “if we don’t take care of a situation, such as a sick animal, broken equipment, or wet pens, it will snowball into a big problem that will have big consequences.” To prevent future problems, Diane and Reid have a schedule of vaccinations and herd checks to keep animals healthy. “Good production begins with baby calves, so we start out on day one, making sure their health and nutrition needs are met,” Diane said.
Recently, in 2012, the Hoovers put in a new facility, in order to better care for their animals. It features a double 12 milking parlor, comfortable free-stalls for cows, along with fans and a sprinkler system to beat the summer heat. The stalls are bedded with reclaimed manure which has gone through a separation unit to remove most of the moisture. This process leaves a soft, absorbent bedding for cattle to relax in. Solar panels were also added to provide hot water to clean the milking system out.
The Hoovers practice no-till farming, use cover crops and have a nutrient management plan. Pastures with creeks have steam bank fencing and some fields have grass waterways to control run-off.
Although the dairy economy is tough and environmental regulations are challenging, Diane looks forward to passing on the farm to the next generation and continually becoming better managers of their cows and land.
Diane gives back to the dairy industry by serving on the Mid-Atlantic Dairy’s Speakers Bureau, the Lebanon County Dairy Promotion Committee, the PA Beef Council Board of Directors as Vice-Chair and helping to lead the NoSoAnn 4-H Dairy Club. She also teaches Sunday School at Gingrich’s Mennonite Church.