Read the Progressive Dairyman Canada digital edition
advertisement

Emily Mattice – A new face to the Ontario dairy scene

Alice Guthrie Published on 30 August 2011
Emily Mattice milking

“I did not do this for me ... this is for the next generation,” Charles “Chuck” Mattice comments.

The next generation is Chuck’s 26-year-old daughter, Emily.

advertisement

advertisement

For now there is a partnership, but Chuck has plans to ease out. “Within 10 years, I plan to be the hired man,” he says.

The Mattice family has deep roots in Haldimand County, Ontario, going back more than 100 years in the area.

Chuck’s grandparents, Charles and Grace Tietz, and later his parents, Marion and Marvin Mattice, milked Ayrshires and raised show ponies from the 1920s until the late 1960s, when a tragic barn fire brought it to an abrupt end.

They lost all the barns and more than 40 head of cattle, including the entire milking herd. Only a handful of heifers were saved from the inferno, and these were later sold. Chuck, 12 at the time, never forgot.

Fast forward to 2010. Emily, a freckled, energetic woman, had been an avid 4-H’er, completing projects in dairy, rabbit and competitive horse clubs, and competing at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in the Jersey Canada Showmanship class.

advertisement

Livestock farming was in her blood. She was living in Alberta following completion of a diploma in agriculture from Lakeland College.

She had been there for seven years, working on ranches, in auction yards, feedlots and at training and dealing horses.

Chuck encouraged Emily to come home. Together, they embarked on their new venture utilizing the New Entrance Program, which allowed a start-up amount of milk quota from Dairy Farmers of Ontario.

This program gives the new dairyman a loan of 12 kilograms of quota with a payback period of 15 years. It also allows the new producer an opportunity to purchase more.

The Mattices obtained 35 kilograms of quota but cannot buy more until the loan is repaid.

A 175-acre farm was purchased not far from Chuck’s place, and the changes began. The old hip roof barn was renovated, with one end becoming the maternity ward and calf barn, and the other end housing a double-four milking parlour.

advertisement

Storage area was retained in the loft for hay and straw. A new barn was built. This is a bright, airy, 75-foot by 150-foot dry pack barn, with penning areas for milkers, drys and heifers, and a wide feed alley that allows all feed to be handled by machinery.

They feed corn silage and baleage, blended with a pelleted complete feed supplied by Minor Bros. Farm Supply.

This total mixed ration (TMR) is fed free-choice. The biggest downfall of this system is that the higher producers do not get the extra feed they should have, but they hope to address this issue in the near future.

They plan to supplement this feeding regimen with exercise yards allowing some grazing for the summer and with access to the barn.

High-tensile electric fencing is their choice of material, and they are hoping to erect some later this summer.

Chuck jokes about the “sweat equity” he was building, as he and Emily described their immediate and longer-range plans. In addition to the fencing required, there is more concrete work needed and feed bins to erect.

The five-year plan includes a new heifer barn, and there is always the challenge of keeping older equipment in working order.

Father and daughter chose to milk Ayrshires and Jerseys, although in the early days they purchased whatever cows were available.

Chuck chose Ayrshires, the breed his grandfather had kept. “Why not? I like the little Scottish breed,” he says.

The Ayrshires produce milk with about 4 percent fat, and the milk doesn’t separate like other breeds’ milk.

They fit in well with the Jerseys, which are Emily’s choice. While these cows do not produce the high quantities of milk Holstein cows are known for, they produce high components, which gives them a payback advantage of approximately 22 cents per litre.

At this time, they have production of approximately 22 kilograms per day for the Jerseys, and 30 kilograms per day for the Ayrshires, with 4.6 percent fat (non-published results). They will be working on increasing production.

At this time, there are about 43 milking cows; Emily dreams of going to 200, but admits a more realistic 10-year goal of 65 to 70.

There are about 30 head of youngstock, in addition to the milkers. Already, most of the cows are registered purebreds, and that trend will continue.

A type classifier is coming soon, which Emily feels will give them a chance to set a baseline and see where they are now. Emily would like to show her Jerseys some day, but that won’t be happening for some time.

The first large hurdle they had to face was a high rate of pneumonia when they first came into the barn. Things are fine now but, as Emily says of the experience, “the learning curve is very steep.”

Another early problem had seen too many cows miss service, but that problem is now resolved. Emily does all the insemination herself, purchasing semen from Gencor, Select Sires, Rapid Bay or American Breeder Services (ABS).

By so doing, she can be more accurate in her timing of service, which results in fewer second services required. The first pregnancy check bore this out: 12 of 14 cows had settled from the first service.

Emily and Chuck share most of the responsibility for chores, with occasional help from brother, Charles, and a friend, Dave.

Charles, an electrical apprentice, played a big part in preparing the new barn by doing all of the electrical wiring. Mom, Carolyn, does the extensive bookkeeping the enterprise requires and is a great source of encouragement for Emily.

Milking begins at 5, morning and evening, and takes about an hour to complete. Usually the cleanup falls to Emily, while Chuck tends to feeding. Holidays are not even in the picture yet, but Chuck occasionally does nights so that Emily can get away.

In addition to her business, Emily is actively involved with the Junior Farmer organization. She has received her five-year pin and is vice president of her local group, which works on projects for community betterment.

The group raises money to give back to the community and is a training ground for “raising future agricultural leaders,” she says.

At this time, Emily finds it necessary to work part-time as a receptionist at a local vet clinic, but hopes to be able to be on the farm full-time in the future. When asked what she does with her spare time, she responds, “There is no spare time.”

Emily still enjoys her horses too, and hopes in the future to breed sport horses. She has a pair of draft-cross mares and a steel-grey thoroughbred stallion. She says she would like to show the horses, but it is unlikely to happen.

Emily has definite goals for her business. She wants to improve on type and production in the herd, improve the breeding interval, feed conversion and overall profitability.

She sees herself staying with the business for the foreseeable future. She acknowledges Chuck’s help and encouragement: “I feel very blessed and fortunate that Dad would be willing to invest so much in my future.” PD

Alice Guthrie is a freelance writer from Hagersville, Ontario.

PHOTO: Emily Mattice spends two hours each day milking and plenty more doing farm chores, while maintaining a part-time job at a veterinary clinic. Photo by Alice Guthrie.

LATEST BLOG

LATEST NEWS