The Nissley Brothers -- Seventh Generation Farmers

Darwin and Bernard Nissley began their beef finishing operation, Nissley Brothers Farm, in Mount Joy, in 1983. They are the seventh generation of Nissley’s to use the farm that was purchased in 1795.

Darwin says “Farming seemed to be the only choice for me. I grew up on a farm and enjoyed it, especially working with the livestock.” The greatest reward for the Nissley Brothers is giving their best effort, be it towards crops or livestock, and seeing the end result.

To ensure their hard wok pays off, they follow a strict feeding schedule. Feeding at the same time everyday, as well as consulting a nutritionist to provide a balanced ration, keeps the animals healthy and growing. In addition, Darwin and Bernard check the cattle daily, looking for any health concerns.

While the livestock are a primary concern at Nissley Brothers, they also see the value in conservation management practices and are committed to serving as good environmental stewards. They have a manure storage pit that that doubles as the catch all for barnyard water run-off. Also, they use no-till practices combined with planting cover crops. Their nutrient management program is a valuable asset to the farm, especially as more strict regulations loom with the Chesapeake Bay Watershed project.

Aside from more strict regulations involving manure management, Darwin feels that there will be more challenges in the future for Nissley Brothers. “Animal rights groups misinforming the public without factual basis, and developing new markets for cattle while keeping the existing markets are my biggest concerns,” says Darwin.

In the future, they would like to expand their market to emphasize locally produced foods. Programs, such as PA Preferred, make promoting locally grown products easier and more profitable. “We do our best to produce a quality product for the consumer, one that tastes good and is healthy,” Darwin explains. “We keep up with the latest technology by continuing our education.”

Off the farm, the Nissleys are active in their community and agriculture programs throughout Pennsylvania. Bernard is a member of the Farm and Home Foundation of Lancaster County as well as an Auditor for Rapho Township. Darwin serves on the planning commission for Rapho Township, operations committee for Manheim Central School Board.