Richard Bloss was raised in Sarcoxie, Mo., on his parents’ dairy farm, just two miles east of his farmstead today.
His granddad and parents were dairy farmers in Nebraska, but in the spring of 1948, when Richard was only 9 months old, his parents came to Southwest Missouri and bought a half a section of ground where they continued to milk. Richard first started helping on the farm by shucking corn.
“I bought two milk cows at the age of 9 and started selling milk, and I’ve sold milk ever since,” he said.
By the age of 13, he had saved enough money from milking to buy 140 acres on his own. Being involved in FFA, he was awarded the State Star Award in Dairy Production and earned his American Farmer Degree.
He was drafted into the army when he was 19 and during basic training married Dair Woods.
In 1968, after two years in the service, he bought a 40-acre dairy farm with a vacated 1952 Grade A milk barn where they milked their five dairy cows that his parents had kept for him while he was away.
Richard later worked night shifts at Steadley Bedspring Factory in Carthage, Mo., to support his wife and two young sons, Mike and Jeff. When the boys were only 2 1/2 and 5 years old, Dair suddenly passed away. From that day forward he stayed home with the boys and farmed fulltime. Later Richard married Anita Marlatt, who grew up on a dairy farm. They had two daughters, Jennifer and Kristin. Richard and Anita have been blessed with 10 grandkids and five great-grandkids.
The farm has always been a family operation and continues with the help of their grandson Layne (9). He has grown up beside his grandpa helping him milk ever since he was able to walk. Layne milks with his grandpa at 6 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. and helps with the calves. Anita is a retired elementary school teacher of 33 years and has always fed and cared for the calves twice a day.
Richard said they had registered Jerseys when he was young and even sold breeding stock internationally until 2006 when he sold his 400 registered Jerseys to a local dairy that was just getting started. In 2009, he went back to milking and now they have 170 Montbeliarde Swedish Red/Jersey cross cattle, but they try to milk around 80 to 90 cows.
The dairy barn they milk in used to be a four-cow stanchion when it was built but has since been remolded twice from a double-three-herringbone in 1980 to a double six parallel barn 11 years ago.
“We like to average 55 to 65 pounds of milk per cow, per day depending on the time of year, but we do have some cows that give 100 pounds per day,” Richard said. “We once had a Jersey cow that milked for 17 years and she milked 30,000 pounds a year on average until her last couple years. She was super productive. That’s just an abnormally good cow.”
Every two days their milk is picked up and goes to Hiland Dairy in Springfield, Mo., but they also have a contract with Chipotle in Chicago, Ill.
Hiland Dairy repackages their milk then sends it to Chipotle where it is then used to make cheese.
“We’re in a fluid milk market around here and we get more pounds out of these cows than we would an average Jersey herd,” Richards said. “It’s driven off of quantity not quality.”
Richard recalled in the 1950s, when everyone was milking,
“There were seven milk trucks that went by our driveway each day. So, if you didn’t like something one day, you could flag down another truck the next day.”
The cows are fed a 16 percent dairy ration from Whitehead Farm Supply in La Russell, Mo.
The cows are also given a forage consisting of ensiled wheat, oats, first-cutting grass, and each year he plants 250 to 275 acres of wheat for pasture. After the wheat comes off this year, he plans on planting corn then chopping the corn for silage. All the cows are naturally bred, calving in spring or fall. Heifers are bred by a black Angus bull the first time then the second time they are bred by a Montebelairde and Swedish Red cross. The bulls have come from his son Jeff’s dairy farm in Central Missouri.
“They are a bigger framed calf,” Richard said.
His son, Mike, is a local veterinarian and preg checks and vaccinates all cows and calves as needed. Along with dairy cattle, they have 60 black Angus cows and raise 60 to 80 acres of no-till corn and soybeans for grain each year.
The family is thankful to have a part-time helper who has worked on and off the farm occasionally for the last 30-plus years, allowing the Bloss family to go on a yearly two-week family vacation.
Richard never tried to get big too fast but tried to buy 20 acres here and there at a good price. “The freedom to make my own decisions a big portion of the time has always been my driving factor.”