Duane and Betty had two children, Dennis and Debbie, who both became involved in the dairy industry. Dennis joined the family operation in 1982, while Debbie and her husband, Steve, developed their own dairy herd nearby until 2003. At that time, their herd, Dirigo Holsteins, merged with Conant Acres. Steve and Debbie, winners of the 1997 Holstein Association USA Outstanding Young Breeder Award, joined the rest of the family at Conant Acres with the goal of working together to breed elite conformation cattle and produce high quality milk for our consumers.
Currently, the herd consists of 75 Registered Holstein cattle that average more than 28,000 pounds of milk. Situated in the picturesque Androscoggin River Valley in the Western Maine foothills, the Conant family is privileged to farm some of the finest cropland in the area. The farming operation covers 300 acres- approximately half of that is corn that is used to produce corn silage, and the other half is alfalfa and grass varieties. Each year, the farm markets excess corn silage to neighboring dairies, and this has proven to be an important contributor to the farms' bottom line.
Today, Duane and Betty continue to operate the family farm, and have been joined by their children and grandchildren in this endeavor. In fact, when friends and neighbors pull into the Conant Acres driveway, they can expect to see four generations of the Conant family working side by side. The slogan at Conant Acres is "Where Families Come First" and this is evident not only in the deep-pedigreed animals themselves, but also in the people that care for the cows.
Duane and Betty's two children and their spouses, Dennis and Heidi Conant and Steve and Debbie Keene, are involved in the farm operations in different capacities. Additionally, their grandchildren, Matt and Natalie Sneller, Brian and Sarah Keene, Tristan Franchetti and Kaicey Conant, have all been involved in some way, with Matt and Sarah employed full time on the farm.
Each family member has their own role on the farm, with Duane and Betty overseeing the business; Dennis focusing on producing high quality forages for the herd; Steve, Matt and Sarah managing the cows, breeding decisions and herd health; and Debbie working on record-keeping and the calf program.
The goal of the breeding program at Conant Acres is to develop pedigree cattle with elite conformation. As a result of this focus, we have had the opportunity to market dairy cattle genetics to more than 20 countries around the world. Additionally, Duane, Steve and Dennis have traveled to Japan, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom to speak to international farmer audiences about the herd and breeding programs.
The Conant family welcomes dairy breeders from around the United States and internationally to the farm each year. Additionally, the younger generations of the family have been actively involved in agricultural education and outreach programs in the community that have brought visitors to the farm, and also entailed displays at the local fairs and taking cows to area schools.
In recognition of the farm's achievements in breeding elite pedigree Holstein cattle, Duane Conant was recognized with the Distinguished Breeder Award from the National Dairy Shrine in 2009. The Conant herd has received the Progressive Breeder Award from the National Holstein Association for 22 years, ever since the award was introduced. The farm has gotten the progressive breeder registry award five times, and both the Conant and the Keene branches of the family have been honored with the Maine Farm Family of the Year award.
Conant Acres is proud to be a family operated farm with four generations striving to produce high quality milk and cattle for customers in our community and across the country. While we farm to try to earn a living for five branches of our family, we are proud to operate a dairy where "Families Come First" and we have the opportunity to bring up the next generation with the ideals and values that we were raised with.