Kara-Kesh Holsteins – Thief River Falls, MN
Improving Comfort & Calm with Agromatic FreeFEED
In the heart of Minnesota, a family’s dedication to dairy farming has become a story of growth, innovation, and unwavering commitment. In 2007, Ryan and Karen Griffin, proud owners of Kara-Kesh Holsteins, began a farming journey that transformed their passion into a thriving family legacy.
From the early days on a Southeast Minnesota dairy to the establishment of their own operation in Northwest Minnesota, the Griffin family has always upheld principles of cow comfort, milk quality, and strong family ties.
Implementing the Agromatic FreeFEED system has helped provide the highest quality of comfort and care for their herd of 15 milking show cows, replacements, and beef heifers (used as embryo recipients). Their dedication to cow comfort and milk quality, coupled with a partnership with Land O’Lakes, laid the foundation for the growth of their now renowned herd at Kara-Kesh Holsteins.
With three children—Curtis, Evelyn, and Agnes—the Griffin family turned dairy farming into a family affair at Kara-Kesh Holsteins. “We’ve learned that shared efforts lead to greater success and a stronger family bond,” remarks Ryan. As their children grew, they became integral to the farm’s operations, from daily chores to showcasing their cattle, instilling values of hard work and dedication..
“We’ve learned that shared efforts lead to greater success and a stronger family bond.”
In 2019, a cow named Gem brought a new dimension to the Griffin family’s journey. “Gem’s success was a shared victory,” Ryan recalls. “We knew we had a special young cow, but just weren’t quite sure how special she was.”
Their son Curtis, nine years old at the time, showed Gem at the 2019 World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin, and the duo did more than well. Gem placed third in her class, but also walked away as first in the International Junior Show, leading to be named Reserve Intermediate Champion and Honorable Mention Grand Champion of the Red & White International Junior Show.
“People from all over the world were stopping to congratulate my son,” Ryan says. “I don’t want to say it was a crowning moment, because we’re always aiming for better, but it was an incredible day for the family.”
Innovating for Cow Comfort
The Griffin family’s commitment to their award-winning herd was a factor to them embracing the Agromatic FreeFEED system. Ryan admits, “I had concerns about cows potentially jumping, but those worries vanished over the first months. Not a single cow challenged the system’s boundaries.”
The flexibility of the FreeFEED system was a game-changer at Kara-Kesh Holsteins, allowing them to adjust rails for cows of all sizes, ensuring optimal comfort.
“I had concerns about cows potentially jumping, but those worries vanished over the first months. Not a single cow challenged the system’s boundaries.”
It makes cows calmer at milking, a benefit the family noticed the first night! The FreeFEED system has also prevented boss cows from, well, being bossy. “A boss cow could really intimidate the younger ones at times, so the herd was constantly shuffling while eating,” he says. Now he says they stay put until the feed in front of them is gone or low.
“The reduction in injuries from dominant cows has been remarkable,” says Ryan. “You can keep cows where they need to be, but it also eliminates the wear and tear on their necks.”
A Positive, Safe Environment for All
With the FreeFEED system, daily routines on the farm are streamlined and safer at Kara-Kesh Holsteins, and this positive impact extends beyond comfort.
“From late lactation to pre-fresh groups, we witnessed enhanced well-being,” says Ryan. The system’s relaxed feeding environment led to increased intake and improved rumen health, transforming the entire herd’s overall success.
And for the family as a whole, it’s safer. Even with a very human-friendly show herd, Ryan says that every now and then a cow in heat can just get a little feisty. “I’m in there all the time, the kids are in there all the time, and this system provides an easy out,” he explains, which is why he recommends it to all size dairies, not just ones like his.
“In a pen with animals that do not need to be caught, this I would recommend to anyone. It’s amazing how much cow comfort has increased,” he explains.
Ryan Griffin’s journey from dairy startup to show cow industry recognition is a testament to dedication, family unity, and innovation at Kara-Kesh Holsteins. “Our legacy is built one generation at a time,” he reflects. Looking ahead, the Griffin family remains open to embracing advancements that elevate cow comfort, strengthen family bonds, and contribute to their enduring legacy.