PALMYRA, NY — El-Vi Farms, LLC in Newark, NY is one of Wayne County’s largest dairies, yet still maintains a family farm culture with multiple generations participating, despite the fact that the farm is owned by a partnership. Showing at the county fair represents one way in which the farm families stay connected to the community, according to Colleen Andrew, who helped manage youngsters showing El-Vi animals at the fair.
She also manages the books for the farm and is mother to Sarah and Emma who work full-time at the farm, as well as George, Jr. 14, and William, 12. 4-Hers Abby Rouland, Luke Taylor and Julianna Smith joined the Andrews to show at the six-day fair. El-Vi brought eight cattle, four sheep and several goats, all 4-H projects
The El-Vi wins included William winning 4-H dairy show Grand Champion Jersey and Honorable mention of All Breeds; Abby Rouland taking home Reserve Grand Champion Jersey; Luke Taylor winning First for Novice Showman; George Andrew was second in class for Summer Yearling; and Julianna Smith received a Cloverbud Rosette award.
In the Open Dairy show, El-Vi won Grand and Reserve Champion Jersey and Junior and Reserve Champion Jersey. El-Vi cows will be shown at the New York State Fair the last week of August.
The Taylors board some animals at El-Vi and the family pitches in to help prepare and show animals.
“Everyone helps,” Colleen Andrew said. “The reason we do this is to be a community presence.”
Whenever school children tour El-Vi or attend events like Fun on the Farm, which El-Vi has hosted, Andrew tries to point out which cows are slated for showing later. She tries to educate visitors to the farm and fairgoers about how cows receive good care at El-Vi, including appointments such as comfortable mattresses.
Recycled manure solids mixed with lime provide comfortable bedding in the free stalls while straw is used in the maternity barn and in the calf housing. The farm mists cows in the free stall barn during hot weather so they stay cooler. Tunnel ventilation also helps keep them comfortable.
The farm’s milking machines are in the basement under the parlor to reduce noise and increase cow comfort.
Technology used at El-Vi Farms includes transponder chips on the cows’ legs to monitor whenever they come into the milking parlor. The farm uses a methane digester to generate electricity used on the farm and the liquid manure byproduct from manure separation is stored in lagoons for spreading later.
El-Vi’s attention to cow care shows in their animals’ longevity and health. One of the cows shown this year, Davina, is a 13-year-old Jersey which Andrews said feels quite at home in the show barn and the ring.
El-Vi milks 1,800 and farms 3,000 acres, enabling the farm to raise all its own feed except for commodity ingredients. The farm was founded in 1948 by Elmer and Viola Peck whose first names helped form the farm name, “El-Vi” Farms. The operation employs 24 full-timers, 18 part-time employees and four students. The cows give between 80 and 88 pounds daily and are milked three times daily.
The farm’s two milking tanks hold 52,000 pounds and 48,000 pounds each.
The farm’s four partners are Colleen’s husband, George Andrew, Josh Peck, Kim Skellie and Allan Ruffalo.
The Wayne County Fair featured a theme of “Cowboy Boots & Country Roots” for its 161st year. Many fairgoers took advantage of free horse-drawn wagon rides around the grounds, courtesy of Burl Creek Farm in Newark, which provided the team, wagon and driver. The fair ran Aug. 14-19 and included numerous animal shows, 4-H shows, tasting events, educational displays and entertainment.