December 2006
Featured Articles

Brown’s Dairy: A Refreshing Family Experience

 
  Scott (center) and Jimmy (right) Brown, owners of Brown’s Dairy, show Lamar Peters (left), manager of Fayette Co-op, the Crystalyx BGF 30 tubs they use for their Angus cows.
Brothers Transition from Dairy to Commercial Cattle

By Don Linker

Nestled in the hills of Northwest Tuscaloosa County in the Echola Community is Brown’s Dairy, a family owned farm since the early 1900s. The farm that has been home to Jimmy and Scott Brown all their lives has given them a really good life. Their unique relationship of brothers, partners and friends is a refreshing family experience. Lamar Peters, manager of Fayette Branch of AFC, and I spent a very enjoyable morning with Jimmy, Scott, and Scott’s wife, Frances.

The hustle and bustle of the dairy is now gone, and the rolling hills are no longer home to Holstein cows, but the herd of commercial Angus cows that have evolved from them paints a tranquil picture.

The Brown farm began in the hands of Isiah (Cap) Brown with his son, Vannie (Jimmy and Scott’s Dad). Cap raised Berkshire hogs and sheep. His hogs were so good, they consistently placed over the State of Alabama’s hogs.

 
Brown’s Dairy may no longer have the hustle and bustle of dairy cattle but it is the home of a growing Angus herd.  
Cap and Vannie began the dairy in 1957 with 12 Jersey cows, collecting the milk in 10-gallon cans. Roads to people’s farms weren’t much more than trails, so Vannie carried the cans full of milk on his shoulder half a mile to meet the milk truck.

In 1930 tragedy struck when Cap died in an accident while clearing land on the farm. The dairy fell to Vannie who began improving the cowherd by bringing in top notch Holstein bulls in from Washington state. Jimmy and Scott were born in 1933 and 1935 respectively. As soon as they were old enough, chores became a way of life. Most farm kids went barefoot, as shoes were hard to come by. Scott related that the first pair of shoes he received wore out from the inside because his feet were tougher than the shoes.

The milking herd increased and roads were improved so the truck came to the dairy to pick up the milk. The first tank purchased to hold milk was a 600-gallon stainless steel tank that a neighbor told Jimmy they would never fill.

Jimmy managed the milk parlor, the milkers, clean-up, etc., while Scott handled the outside chores including replacement heifers, baby calvings, feeding the cowherd, haying, etc. The small 600-gallon tank, the one that they would never fill, was joined by two more small tanks, which were all filled. By the late eighties, they were milking 1100 cows two times a day in a double eight parlor essentially 24 hours a day. Another milk tank was added, this time a six thousand gallon one! Due to not being able to get proper labor to fill the requirement of the dairy, nearly 800 cows were sold in 1994. They continued milking approximately 300 until 1997 when approximately 370 cows and heifers were auctioned off. The dairy operated until 2002 on a much smaller scale. In 2002 the remainder of the cows were sold. The parlor and the equipment is still there as a reminder of the long hours, hard work, and the family that built it from 12 cows in 1927.

Jimmy and Scott have slowed their work schedule considerably, but they are still up early tending to the outstanding commercial Angus herd that has evolved from Brahma X Holstein heifers bred to Angus bulls. Breeding bulls were purchased from Twin Valley and Gardiner Angus (Kansas) with close attention paid to EPDs. This attention to detail shows in their replacement heifers.

Scott and Frances have four grown children who will all return to the farm when they retire from their careers. Jimmy, who is single and available by the way, was mentor as well as uncle to Bonnie who raises registered Angus with her family. Travis lives and works in Atlanta, Tina is a veterinarian at LSU, and Becky and her family live in Shreveport.

The Browns have been loyal to the Fayette Co-op branch of AFC. They have been patrons since the 1950s. They purchase everything from fertilizer to feed and minerals there. They use AFC 13% Cattle Pellets with Bovatec on all their calves; and when you look at their replacement heifers, you can see the results. Scott and Jimmy also use Crystalyx BGF 30 to supplement their brood cows. They rely on Lamar at the Fayette Branch of AFC and his crew for information, help, and all of their operation’s needs.

Lamar and I would like to thank Jimmy, Scott, and Mrs. Frances for their hospitality, stories, coffee, patronage, and inviting us back for lunch. We are really looking forward to that because according to Scott and Jimmy, Mrs. Frances makes the best turnip greens and cornbread around.

Don Linker is an Outside Salesman for AFC.