Miller Dairy is only a handful of dairy farms in Greene County, Mo.
WALNUT GROVE, MO. – The old saying that once in your life you need a doctor, a lawyer, a policeman and a preacher, but every day, three times a day, you need a farmer typifies the Miller Farm of Walnut Grove, Mo.
For five generations, the Roundtree/Miller family has worked to produce wholesome, nutritious and delicious milk for families in Southwest Missouri. Currently, their dairy is just one of seven still operating in Greene County, Mo.
The Miller Dairy is family-owned and operated by John and Dawna Miller. Each family member has an indispensable role to play at the dairy.
John arrives early in the morning and again in the evening to milk their 40 Holstein and Brown Swiss cows. Dawna departs early for her job at Mercy Hospital. Their son, Trent, works long hours on the farm when he isn’t at his job at BNSF Railway. The Millers also own Miller Farms Trucking LLC. John and Trent haul grain and commodities for feed mills and farmers.
Trent’s wife Stephanie also lends a hand at the dairy when needed. She grew up on a dairy farm in Billings, Mo. Her family was forced to call it quits in 2003 when milk prices plummeted. Stephanie currently teaches fifth- and sixth-grade science at Billings R-5 School. Even 2-month-old baby Nolan, the newest member of the Miller family, is right at home in the milking parlor. He is able to take a power nap while the dairy whizzes away in the background.
“We love the life,” Dawna said.
“My granddad sold milk to St. Louis,” John recalled. “I used to hear my dad tell about when the train track was in service here in Walnut Grove. Every day they had to haul their milk out here to the depot where the milk cans were loaded aboard the train.”
Charles Roundtree, John’s grandfather, was the farm’s original owner. The Miller family has owned the farm since the 1940s. John’s two brothers, Charles and Phillip, also run cattle on the 340-acre farm. Charles has cow/calf pairs, and Phillip runs steers.
The cows’ diet consists of corn silage, alfalfa and grass hay grown on the farm. Trent also row crops corn, wheat and soybeans.
Health protocols include breeder minerals and vaccinations before and after calving.
“Trent never sleeps,” Stephanie added.
John feels the media characterization of soy and oatmeal drinks as “milk” is doing a disservice to dairymen and consumers.
“It shouldn’t be marketed as milk,” he said. “It’s a drink.”
Stephanie still has some of the cows that were part of her family farm before they were forced out of business including, a 12-year-old Brown Swiss cow.
“She’s very spoiled,” Stephanie smiled.
“We like large cows,” John added. “One thing I’ve always strived for is large cows with good udders and good feet and legs. The Brown Swiss breed is noted for their quality feet and legs. They also have very good udders and produce large volumes of milk. They also produce high butter fat and protein components and are a good complement to run with Holsteins since the Holsteins are a large animal. The Swiss are just as large. They’re also a very curious animal. If there’s a gate that rattles a quarter of a mile away, here they come.”
Dawna enjoys the Brown Swiss for their gentle nature.
“They are very friendly,” she added.
Brown Swiss are robust, a prolific breeder, long-lived, strong, adaptable, and very well-balanced in build with good hooves and limbs. The breed has a double utility as it is used for both dairy and beef, providing good milk and meat.
“I personally like the Holsteins,” Trent added. “But they all have their place. The Swiss will be out grazing in the summer, and the Holsteins will be in the pond cooling off. Brow Swiss can handle the heat a lot better.”
The Holstein breed is known for high milk production. They are good-natured, easy to handle, and can be stable without any problems. They also dominate America’s milk production industry. They have strong maternal bonds and are attentive, loving and protective parents.
Their breeding program consists of AI and natural cover. Trent and Stephanie have had additional schooling on AI. They also breed for confirmation and show. The Millers have won many awards over the years, including, supreme champion and grand champion at Missouri fairs. and have placed in the top five in national shows.
They utilize rotational grazing. Cows graze wheat and rye during the spring and winter months, Sudan and fescue during the summer and fall.
The way the dairy situation has been, everyone has had to pitch in and help. At one time, John trucked cattle across the United States.
The Millers milk is processed and sold by Dairy Farms of America in Springfield, Mo.
Miller Dairy received the Gold Standard award for their milk.