by Karen Van Wyk
Lisa Kaiman, the owner of Jersey Girls Dairy, went to the University of Vermont to study animal science. She wanted to be a veterinarian and had been interested in food consumption and food animals since grade school.
While she was at UVM she was part of the group that created the CREAM (Cooperative for Real Education in Agricultural Management) program, which still exists today. She was then wait-listed for vet school so she began working on farms and fell in love with it. When she was accepted into vet school she began to realize her passion for food animal medicine. It became clear to her that vet school was not her path. She desired to work more closely with cows on a different level.
At the various farms she worked on, she learned many things about cows. Kaiman felt a strong calling to lead by example, using what she was learning to demonstrate a new way to handle cows.
After college she bought a dairy farm that included a house, a barn and 33 acres. It was an 1830 property and needed a lot of work. Kaiman worked hard to make it livable while working at different farms. She later received a loan to purchase farm animals. October 1999 was her first milking month on the Jersey Girls Dairy Farm, located in Chester, VT.
Kaiman proclaimed, “Dairy is a lifestyle, not a job.” She milks 20 to 30 Jerseys and has a small herd of beef cows which are crossbred. She also has 300 layer chickens. She reported her cows are comfortable and happy. They graze in the summer and in the winter feed on dry hay. She maintains a compassionate view of her cows. She does not use artificial lighting so that they may sleep naturally.
She believes cows prefer to be raised in groups and herds have relationships and social interactions. Kaiman believes that if animals are making her living then she owes them the best. She claims this is the reason for her high quality milk and dairy products.
Jersey Girls sells milk and cheese along with their meat products in the farm store. The dairy products are processed on the farm. Jersey Girls sells to restaurants as well. In addition, visitors to the farm can actually milk the cows.
Jersey Girls has two full-time farm employees and two full-time product production employees. Her main food processing worker has been with her for well over 10 years.
Jersey Girls opens the farm for visitors to milk the cows.
Kaiman has spoken at various conferences and will be speaking at the Northeastern Dairy Conference on April 1 – 2.
Jersey Girls continues to grow, using cutting edge developments to ensure high quality milk products. Kaiman has developed a system combining food animal medicine and a dairy business that keeps both her cows and her customers content.