Kerstendale Farms Ltd. - Mike and Robin Kersten
The Kersten family are the sixth milk producer in central Ontario to be certified organic.
Mike and Robin took over Mike’s family farm in 1997 from his dad, John. John bought the farm in 1968, after his immigration from Holland. They were milking 90 cows in an old free stall barn at the time. At the time of sale the herd had been reduced to 70 cows and Mike’s dad and brother expanded their cash cropping. Mike had spent a couple of years working for the local Surge dealer and had seen many other barns and types of equipment on his travels with the route truck. In 1999 the decision to build a new barn solidified their commitment to milking cows for the long haul. They built a naturally ventilated 66 stall free stall barn with room for not only the cows, but dry cows, and all the heifers as well.
Unfortunately, as the cows settled in to the new barn, they did not see the improvement in herd health and production that they had expected. “We struggled for a couple of years, taking advice from almost anyone who would give it. We had huge vet bills and sick cows.” says Mike. It wasn’t until they met Murray Bast from BioAg that things started to turn around. “Murray was the only one who looked at the whole picture. He brought in a specialist from the US who identified stray voltage. Murray, with a natural approach, helped to find the nutritional formula that would boost the cows’ immune systems back up to where they should be.” The next logical step was to begin the transition to organic.
Mike and Robin are proud to be producing a more natural food for their family and for consumers. They are strong believers that it is the right thing to do. They have two sons, Kyle and Nathan and they hope that one or both of the boys will want to join the operation some day.