Dairy farmer finds success by diversifying operation

Central Illinois farmer Jenna Kilgus says her family has found success by diversifying their dairy operation.

Their operation includes 140 Jersey cows and a creamery, where 6,500 gallons of milk are bottled each week.

She tells Brownfield it has allowed another generation to work on the farm. 

“In our area we couldn’t just go farm several thousand more acres of corn and soybeans to bring them back we needed to diversify and create a value-added product so that’s why we chose to put in a creamery,” she says.

She tells Brownfield diversifying the operation has been challenging.

“Probably the biggest was consumer education- making sure people know where their food comes from and that it’s safe and to know what non-homogenized milk is,” she says. “The second is marketing-we’re dairy farmers and to market our product is a challenge itself.”

Advice she has to farmers who want to do something similar is to do research before making any changes.

Kilgus Farms sells whole, 2 percent, skim, and chocolate milk as well as heavy cream, half and half, and an ice cream mix. Although most of the products are sold in central Illinois, Kilgus says 40 percent goes to Chicago.

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