Sparta's Kevetta Farms named Livingston County Farm of the Year

Farm to be honored and agriculture industry celebrated Aug. 15 at the Farmer Neighbor Event

From News Reports
Kevetta Farms, operated by Kevin and Annetta Herrington along with their children Jessica and Tyler, has been named the Livingston County Farm of the Year.

SPARTA — Tucked back in the hills of Sparta, Kevin and Annetta Herrington, along with their children Jessica and Tyler, farm a 50 cow dairy operation milking both Holsteins and Jersey cows. They also sell both high protein and butterfat milk and breed and sell calves with superior genetics throughout the northeast.

The Livingston County Area Chamber of Commerce and Livingston County Farm Bureau announced that Kevetta Farms has been named the Livingston County Farm of the Year. The farm will be recognized and the agriculture industry celebrated at the annual Farmer Neighbor Event scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 15 and being held at Deer Run Winery. Tickets and sponsorships are available via the Chamber's website. 

Kevetta Farm was selected in large part due to the unique nature of this small rotational grazing super herd operation. Many of the strategic and calculated operational decisions have helped to advance the Herrington's herd and led to it being recognized as a Super Milk producer for 15 years running.

The farm that Kevetta Farms sits on today was purchased by Annetta's grandfather back in the 1950s. It acted primarily as the heifer raising facilities for her family's Holstein dairy farm located three miles down the road. Kevetta Farms was established in April 1988 when Kevin and Annetta were married, primarily consisting of Holsteins. They had returned to Annetta's home farm and were working towards a partnership with Annetta's parents. But unfortunately, a small 60-cow dairy could not sustain four families, so shortly after Jessica was born, their small herd was dispersed in 1991. Someday, they had hoped to return to the farm when Annetta's father was ready to retire.

When their daughter, Jessica, was very young, she loved to go to Grandma and Grandpa's farm to help feed the calves. They gave Jessica her first calf when she was five-years-old and she started showing at the fair. The kids enjoyed going to the fairs and taking care of their calves during the summer.

Annetta's father sold his dairy herd on Dec. 31, 1999. After that, Kevin and Annetta took over the old heifer facilities with the intention to purchase the 110-acre farm to raise dairy animals for their children, Jessica and Tyler, to show throughout their time as youth, as well as raise beef. At that time, they did not intend on getting back into milking cows.

On Jan. 1, 2000, Annetta's father passed away from pancreatic cancer, and once the estate was settled, they officially purchased the farm. Since the kids no longer had someone to supply them with calves, Kevin and Annetta encouraged them to apply for scholarships and other grants to use to purchase calves. The first Jersey came to Kevetta Farms in 2001 after Jessica won the Herbert Wheeler Scholarship put on by the Niagara Frontier Jersey Club.

Not too long after, longtime friend, Bob Hill, asked if they would raise his three Jersey heifers for him. They agreed and those individuals eventually became the foundation for the Kevetta Jersey herd. The pair started milking cows when Jessica's first Jersey calved in. Then they milked Bob's Jersey heifers, feeding the milk to calves. With the kid's and Bob's heifers calving in, everything just sort of fell into place and they made the decision to get back into the dairy business and officially start shipping milk in 2005.

When they first started milking, they had about 17 cows in the string, including Holsteins, Ayrshires, Jerseys and even a couple of Angus-Holstein crosses. Today, they're milking about 50 individuals giving the time with the population being close to 2/3 Jersey and 1/3 Holstein.

The farm is an intensive grazing operation with the intent of the overall operation being very efficient. Their ration is supplemented with free-choice bailage and they purchase TMR during the winter months, fed at 50% and top dressed grain according to milk production. Milking occurs in a flat-barn parlor and cows are housed in a compost pack barn which was constructed in 2011.

Over the years, Kevetta Farms has made a name for itself and has received many awards and accolades, from being a 15-year Super Milk producer, to the Jerseys being ranked nationally for their milk and protein production and their Holsteins being ranked in the top 200 BAA (breed age average) in the United States, along with being a recipient of the Holstein Associations Progressive Breeder Award.

The farm will be honored Aug. 15 from 5-9 p.m. at Deer Run Winery at 3772 West Lake Road in Geneseo. Tickets are $30 per person. For more info contact Laura Lane at 585-243-2222 or laura@livingstoncountychamber.com