Barrington and Highbrighton Dairies
Pete Gelber owns Barrington and Highbrighton Dairies in Montezuma, Georgia. Originally, an Irish investor group started these dairies in the 1980s. The dairies have had numerous owners since then, spent time being developed under the team of Ron St. John and Pete Gelber, and are now in the able hands of Bronx native, Pete Gelber, along with Pete’s wife Dr. Elizabeth Reid and Pete’s son Richard.
The two farms combined milk 7,500 head, mostly Holsteins, in a double 42 parallel and a double 20 herringbone parlor. The cows are bedded with sand in freestall barns. The stalls in the existing barns are not big enough for mature cows, so Pete keeps the younger milking animals in those barns and houses the mature herd in newer barns with larger stalls.
In all, the farms cover about 3,000 acres with 2,000 under irrigation. Pete is fortunate to have his dairy farming talents complimented by son Richard, who specializes in crop production. Richard recently joined the farm full-time following graduation from Cornell University. He is a “working manager” at the farm, and when there is crop work to be done, get out of Richard’s way!
TMR here includes corn silage, cottonseed hulls, sorghum, ryegrass silage, alfalfa, soybean, a protein mix, wet brewers’ grain, and fishmeal. Silages are put up in bags and in bunk silos.
All cows from both farms freshen at Barrington. This way there is one fresh pen, one calving barn, and all babies can be in one place. When cows are ready to return to the herd, they’re sent to either farm—whichever needs them at the time. This is a sensible approach since the farms are almost contiguous. At both farms cows are bred artificially once or twice, then by natural service.
When Pete looked down the line of full calf hutches he commented, “If there’s a calf in every hutch, you know you aren’t losing calves.” Hutches are bedded with wheat straw raised on neighboring farms. At five months the calves go to a Georgia heifer-raiser, and return at about 15 months.
Pete is fortunate to be working with his family. Pete’s wife, Elisabeth Reid, is a veterinarian by profession and in addition to her herd veterinarian responsibilities, now acts, as Pete would say, as the “Farm Mother.” Or according to Elisabeth, “Big Den Mother.” They both have the highest degree of respect for all of their employees on both two farms.