It’s not too often that dairy cows are seen around the Big Country, but at Volleman’s Dairy in Gustine, there are black and white Holstein cows aplenty.
The Volleman Dairy Farm didn’t start it’s roots in the Lone Star State though.
Their roots began in Europe, both in Holland and Luxembourg, where Andrew Volleman’s grandparents had their dairy farms.
Soon after Andrew’s parents got married, they started their own dairy farm and quickly looked to expand elsewhere.
“My parents were looking for an opportunity to grow,” Andrew said. “Then give their kids a chance to come back into agriculture.”
They began their search, touring the country, but fell in love with Texas because of its rich soil.
So in 1993, the Volleman’s packed their bags and moved to Gustine in hopes of starting their family’s dairy farm here.
They did just that, starting with 100 head of cattle, but didn’t realize how big their operation would get over the next two decades.
Now, Volleman’s Dairy is one of the largest dairy producers across the state, milking 5,000 cows a day and having close to 30 calves a day.
Andrew Volleman, son and business manager, said that their focus is on sustainability. That’s why they chose to bottle their own milk, recycle their water supply and use the old, iconic glass bottles.
Once a consumer buys a glass bottle of their milk and uses it, they can bring it back to the store’s customer service area and receive a two dollar deposit back.
That bottle will then be shipped back to Gustine, where they will clean, sanitize and reuse that bottle for the next gallon of milk.
Out at their dairy farm, David Volleman, Andrew’s older brother and dairy manager, said his focus is on cow comfort.
During the hot summer months in Texas, cows get overheated at 68 degrees.
David said they combat that by having air-conditioned barns, as well as a menagerie of other tools used to keep their cows cool.
“We do things like soakers, fans, obviously shade,” David said. “This barn has been designed to keep cows cool.”
The soakers are like personalized showers for the cows. They will spray water for a minute straight, then shut off for three minutes.
The Vollemans also constantly change their feed out throughout the day, grain and hay that they grow themselves, as well as replace their bedding with a sandy material so that the cows have a soft place to lay down.
David said the ‘cow comfort’ is crucial to the cows production, and they have found out that they produce more milk when they are relaxed and on a schedule.
Volleman’s milk products can be found at grocery stores across the Big Country, such as Market Street and United Supermarkets.