Dustin and Kaylee Youngman count on farm programs, innovation and enthusiasm to build their new dairy farm Today’s economy makes it very difficult for a young couple to start farming from scratch, but that is exactly what Dustin and Kaylee Youngman of Westville, Okla., are doing. Kaylee said, “We really appreciate the Farm Service Agency out of Tahlequah, Okla., without them farming would be impossible for us.”
Dustin and Kaylee bought 40 acres less than three years ago. The land contained an old house from the 1800s and some very old sheds that had to be torn down. It also had a newer home that had to be completely remodeled. The land needed all new fencing, and the couple had to build a milk house and a feed barn before they could start their dairy operation. One unusual aspect of their milk house is that it contains a small playroom, TV and all, off to the side with sliding glass doors so they can see their sons, Wylee age 4 and Wayde age 2, while milking two hours twice a day.
The couple began their dairy operation by purchasing 60 momma cows, half of which were Holstein and half of which were a Holstein/Jersey cross. While the original purchase has been culled down to 51, it is augmented by 16 bred heifers and 4 remaining bottle calves. They sell bull calves to local farmers when their 3 days old. They also have three Jersey bulls to make calving easier for the heifers.
Both Dustin and Kaylee are from Arkansas. They met at the Lincoln rodeo where Dustin was roping and Kaylee was Queen. They soon became a couple. Then Kaylee’s father died in 2006, and they ran her father’s dairy together even before they married. Though Dustin had no dairy background, he had worked for farmers all around the area of Springdale, Ark., where he was raised. When Kaylee’s mother decided to sell out of the dairy business, the couple knew they wanted to dairy and started looking for a small farm. Dustin said, “Cheaper land drew us to Oklahoma. We found our location on the Internet, and it was a great choice. We have good neighbors and are near town.”
Currently both work out of the home. Dustin hauls milk for Griscon Trucking out of Lincoln, Ark., while Kaylee has a small beauty salon they built on the land. Dustin hauls milk every other day, and Kaylee does hair on the off days. Part of their five-year goal is for them to be able to afford Dustin working full-time on the farm. With that in mind, they plan to build a free-range chicken house with paddocks for 2,300 chickens with appropriate buyer not far away in Summer, Ark. They also plan to purchase more land so they can gradually increase the size of their herd, raise some of their own feed and rotationally graze.
Starting the farm has presented challenges. One was using hot wire while constructing the fencing. Dustin said, “For a while it was like a circus around here with the cattle getting out and having to chase them off the roads. Now it’s a better circus, and I’m more of a ringleader.”
Another challenge was the drought. Water wasn’t the issue because their pond never ran dry and they have rural water. The issue was making sure the feed didn’t contain aflatoxin at unacceptable levels that could contaminate the milk so they couldn’t sell it. Higher levels of aflatoxin are a result of the corn in feeds having been stressed by the drought. In response to that issue, Dustin has started broadcasting a mixture of wheat, rye and turnip seeds on his pastures. Dustin said, “There are two kinds of turnips and one is for forage. The cows love the tops and it only takes about 3 pounds of turnip seeds per acre for less than $25 an acre.” According to Dustin, turnips used to be popular years ago and are now regaining popularity. Depending on the weather, Dustin sometimes uses haygrazer seed which holds up well in dry weather.
One benefit of Dustin’s job is contact with many dairy farmers. One told him about dairy pellets from Cushing, Okla., that are cheaper and of higher quality. Consequently they drive the extra distance, and are happy with the results.
The couple is happy with their life and are looking forward to the future. Kaylee said, “I worked alongside my dad, and I love the dairy. With dairy, you either love it or hate it, and I love it.” The couple also enjoys having their children with them all of the time, partially because they are able to teach them the values they want them to have. As a result, the couple is considering homeschooling their children.


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