Da Fang Dairy Breeding Farm
Chen, Zong Min

Da Fang Dairy Breeding Farm

By  Lai, Ding Jing Dairy Association, Taiwan

    Da Fang Farm (Fig.1), located in southern edge of the the Fubao marine Wetland Park in Changhua, its pasture is long dragon-shaped, facing the Chia-Nan plain, with blue skies and green grass, the scene makes people feel as if there were spring winds blowing by. Da Fang Farm’s great atmosphere represents its outstanding performance (Fig.2), female cattle auction, and the selection of sires catch the spotlight in the farm industry. Four plum, five plum (Fig.3) and high-quality milk honors, all these honors are evidence of the farm owner’s positive attitude.

    Mr. Chen Longhuang, native in Taiwan (Fig.4), recalled the beginning of his business, he said : " during year 1961 to 1971, only spring rice could be planted in  the Fubao area, only in good weather could a unit of land harvest six hundred kilograms of rice per year, there is also the problem of low grain prices,  it depended greatly on the weather for farmers to have a good living, it is not hard to imagine that farmers were living in poverty and helplessness, therefore, it was their dream to get out of the difficult shackles left by their predecessors as soon as possible.  In 1973, the government sowed the first seed of the dairy farming, everyone was jumping for joy, however, facing a critical juncture, there was still fear of making a wrong decision; nonetheless, we encouraged each other to increase self-confidence, spent all their possessions, and imported six pregnant heifers from New Zealand. At the beginning of their career, they were busy as a beaver, working non-stop day and night, but we endured hardship as to add up to our experience, and kept on the hard work. "   

    In addition, Mr. Chen Longhuang particularly emphasized: “After three years of cattle experience, I deeply realized the tips of the work, it is better to work for a loving job instead of looking for a popular job, because when the job becomes a target, it will naturally be a part of life, whether in walking, resting, eating, bathing, or even sleeping, you cannot help but think about how to improve the quality of your work. Considering the effort spent on his work, success came without doubt. Recent years, Da Fang Farm has been passed on to Mr. Chen's son, Zongmin, gradually; he developed his interesting on running the business, which was a relief for Mr. Chen. Therefore, he began to re-model his home living environment, finally, in the beginning of this year, he completed this dreamed house, the next generation is replacing the old generation, his new interest now is playing with grandchildren, dropping them off and picking them up from school has become an enjoyable job for Mr. Chen.

    Mr. Chen Zongmin was born in 1977 (Fig.5). He is young and with a confident and mature face, and his confidence comes from over ten years of farming experience.  His appearance revealing extraordinary style and his persistent personality is different from the current younger generation. Since elementary school, he accompanied his parents and learned how to raise cattle, and also the hard work needed to be a cattle farmer, because of these real life experiences during his childhood, Mr. Chen Zongmin was more mature than other children of his age, he also understood more of his parents' toil (Fig.6)(Fig.7).  During his high school period, his parents made a decision for him to study electronic information, which was popular at the time, their original intention was for him to avoid his parents’ footsteps, and change his career path from agriculture to other fields. But, as a sensible child, he applied to the government agencies for early entry to army service, after graduating at age of 18. He wanted to complete his obligations as soon as possible, in order to devote himself to the cattle industry, and share his parents' works and worries. In 1995, he officially became a full-time dairy farmer. According to Confucius' philosophy: "At 15, I set my heart on learning. At 30 I know where I stand (my character has been formed)."; in comparison, Mr. Chen Zongmin seems to be slightly better. 

    Mr. Chen Zongmin says breeding cattle does not need talent, but rather relies on hard-work and effort; it is not suitable for people who are scared of hard-work and filth. He watched these cattle grow up, just as the cattle mothers watched him grow up, establishing a close bond between cattle and man (Fig.8), he cares for his cattle herd with a nurturing heart (Fig.9), and serves them with modesty. For every day of the past decade, he rises earlier than his cattle, and goes to bed later than his cattle; it was the only way for him to sleep soundly at night.

    He says that people, who do not understand cattle industry, see the cattle industry as a laboring career, which is not fair, because what they see is only a tip of the iceberg; in fact, cattle farming is a physically and mentally exhausting career, and is one of the foundational industry of our country. It requires both hard work and wisdom. But the business is now facing a difficult situation, and needs more concern from society. Twenty years ago, the average price was $10 for a kilogram of imported forage, in the last 10 years, the cost of imported forage have increased to $ 12 (Fig.10), and concentrated feeds have increased even more, while the price of raw milk still remaining the same for the past two decades, which is even lower than the price of bottled water. If referred to terms of the law of price fluctuations, all commodity prices should've been increased. The price analysis reports of 2001 from DGBAS announcements shows that the wholesale price index (WPI) was 100 in 2001 and increased to 118.29 In February, 2007, in which agriculture and fishery products were 118.62, and the import price of Agricultural and industrial raw materials' index was 148.55.  All the while raw milk prices didn't change a bit. Not to mention that in terms of better dairy farmers, the higher and higher quality of milk production. Dairy farmers put in more money (Fig.11), more spirit and effort and made improving changes in feeding management, but in return, remuneration still went downhill, all the dairy farmers were frustrated and disappointed. In the past there were more than one hundred thousand dairy farms in the island, now only sixty thousand dairy farms are left, if the government doesn't do something soon, it will be a grave lost for all Taiwanese.  In the past two years, the council of agriculture put their effort in encouraging new farmers starting new farms, but at the same time overlooking the value and the difficulties of old farmers. What they don't realize is that if there were already farms that shined brightly in the field of agriculture, people would naturally be willing to join the agricultural industry. People in our country are more concerned of what we eat nowadays, but still cannot be compared to America and European countries. In other countries, request of milk volume is proportional to the economy, but our milk production is decreasing, the milk market is melting! It is the recession of our nation competition, our consumer knowledge is degraded! This is the biggest concern of cattle farmers.

    Mr. Chen Zongmin says: "Although the cattle farming isn't easy, there's the feel of family warmth when family members work together every day.  My school major was in engineering, without any knowledge of husbandry and veterinary. I had to learn the knowledge throughout working opportunities. For me, breeding cattle is just like treading on thin ice, taking each step gingerly. That is my general attitude toward managing our farm, also summarized in several directions as follow:

1.     Rent several hectares of abandoned farmland, plant domestic grass, harvest on a regular basis in partial substitution for imported forage, DIY the preparation of TMR mixture, use domestic grass as a regular diet for dry cows to reduce the large feeding expenses.

2.     Using the DHI analysis, we can strictly eliminate poor performance of cows, screen cows in terms of breeding value and purchase semen regardless of price in order to breed excellent offspring.  Uniformity is the primary objective. Take milk yield for example, each dairy cows produces roughly 30 kg of milk in our farm, which is the basic requirements, there is no need in breeding for performance of individual, we try to focus on generalization so that it is easy to manage consistent operation, and be cost-effective.

3.     In December 2003, we received the award for the 4th Cattle Farm issued by the Government, in 2006, successfully put out the 25 breeding cattle for sale, which received the positive recognition by peers, meanwhile, our bulls also sold at twice the amount of market price. Da Fang Farm will keep its orientation and strive for advancement.

4.     The Pasture can collect six to seven tons of cow dung in one day, after expositing,  fermentation, disinfecting and crushing (Fig.12), can be used as cattle bedding, saving a considerable amount on costs, and can also prevent exotic diseases, it can also be re-sold to farmers as organic fertilizers, meeting the concept of environmental protection.

5.     Effective use of farm space, although the barn has more than two decades of history, it is an absolute national treasure made of cypress wood (Fig.13), it is strong and fragrant, cool in the summer and warm in the winter, of course, there are still some difficulties under its facilities, but can be overcome with time and effort.  Providing additional grounds for cattle to have enough space to exercise and rest greatly reduces the possibility of cattle disease, and also allows full play to milk yielding, furthermore, the breeding and delivery process goes more smoothly. The establishment of the staff payroll system, profit and loss reports, construction of ranch monitoring system (Fig.14), using computers to effectively improve management and meet the income and reduce expenditure for ideal operational efficiency.

    I recall that there were people who were worried and concerned about the passing on to the second-generation, they suggested to have a blueprint in advance to prevent the fault of dairy farming.  We are really happy to see Da Fang Cattle Farm successfully passing their business to the second generation, and their outstanding performance and improvement since then, and it is definitely an optimal blueprint for all other farmers.