Leon Dueck was born and raised in Canada. Although not from a farm, he worked on a farm when he was in school and milked cows part time. While at a bible camp in Pennsylvania, he met his wife Beth. She’s from a dairy family who moved to South Carolina in the 1970s. Leon and Beth married, and then came to the lovely area around Olar, South Carolina. Leon went to work for Carl Heatwole, an established SMI member. In 2005 Leon and Beth started dairying on their own, milking 90 head that they’d purchased from yet another SMI member, Brubaker Acres, in a rented facility.
In the summer of 2010, the Duecks purchased 106 acres of cropland on Hwy 321, just north of Olar, South Carolina. The next year they added an adjoining acre with a house on it. The next investment was a purchase of two Reinke pivots, which cover most of their 100 acres. They were fully operational in six months.
Cypress Dairy has 110 cows in the herd. There seems to be a small on-going debate on what the herd size should be. Beth says you should never have more cows than your wife is willing to milk. Cows are milked twice a day in a double-5, side-opening parlor. All young stock are raised on the farm.
The herd started out about half Holsteins and half Registered Jerseys. Currently they’re breeding all the Holsteins to Jersey bulls, and the cows they buy in are all Jerseys. Their goal is to grow into an all Registered Jersey herd. They’re accelerating the process by using sexed semen on their best cows. Leon is careful that the sexed semen is used on cows that are ‘ready’ and have the best chance of conception. The extra effort is paying off as the conception rate on their sexed semen use has been right at 90% on the cows. AI is used on the rest of the herd with a summertime clean-up bull.
Originally, Leon and Beth purchased their cow feed from Brubaker Acres. Over the years, they’ve gradually increased the feed they grow themselves. They now grow 42 acres of hay on rented land; they rent 40 acres of dry land near the dairy where they grow small grain feed over the winter.
Leon and Beth are focused on the future and continue to examine the best avenues to make their way in the dairy industry. They’re excited to have help along the way from their growing family—now three boys strong.