Maple Downs Farm II sits on 1,000 acres of pristine farmland, sandwiched between Albany and Schenectady in the suburban town of Middleburgh, New York. Their property is part of the Schoharie Valley, an area with such rich farmland that it holds the nickname "The Breadbasket of the Revolution" for its role in providing food to the American army. The farm has been home to David and Denise Lloyd for nearly 40 years.
When David and Denise began renting the property in 1974, they started with just 46 milking cows. Today, the family milks 160 animals, and keeps a total stock of 325, comprised primarily of registered Holsteins. While traditional dairy farming is still the core of the Lloyd family's operation, they are known world wide in the registered Holstein trade for their heritage breed animals.
"We began focusing on genetics, and selling embryos and cattle as a means to diversify our business," says Denise. "We market our herd's genetics across the country, and have even sold to farmers in Canada, Germany, and England."
In 2001, David's son Jason became an official partner in the business, and oversees many aspects of the breeding program. He is known in the industry for his eye for cattle. David's other son Greg also works full-time on the farm, and the family is currently working on making him a partner. The Lloyds also have two full time employees.
In addition to produce high quality milk and some of the best registered Holsteins in the state, the Lloyds also sell crops, a mixture of dry hay, haylage, and corn sileage. Maple Downs Farm has won a number of awards over the years, including Milk Quality Awards, a Dairy of Distinction Award, and a Farmer Conservation Award. "Everyone here is very passionate about the dairy cow," says Denise. "We have a love of farming, a love of the field work, and a love of showing and caring for the animals. Having a passion for the lifestyle is very important if you're going to truly be successful as a farmer."
The family's strong commitment to dairy farming was evidenced in 2011. Maple Downs Farm was one of the victims of Hurricane Irene, which hit the Northeast in August 2011. "It wiped out our farm, our business, it wiped out our home, my car was totaled, trucks were totaled. Even worse, we lost 47 of our cows. Everywhere you look, it affected every part of our lives," says Denise. "Afterwards, when we could return to the farm to assess the damage, my brother asked me if we'd rebuild. Of course, I told him. The thought of not doing so never crossed our minds."