P.E.I. dairy farmer carries on family business

Jim Day jday@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on July 29, 2015

Cow contentment is high on Tom Robinson’s management chart.

Priority is placed on ensuring his 85 or so Holsteins are well fed, properly groomed and kept comfortable whether the animals are inside the barn with its good air quality and cozy peat moss for bedding, or if they are out roaming the grassy field.

“We do the best job that we can to make sure our animals are safe and healthy,’’ says Robinson.

“We treat our cows here just like people.’’

The 30-year-old farmer is in the process of purchasing the 154-acre farm in South Freetown from his parents.

He is thrilled to carry on the family operation knowing full well he can draw any time on his father’s 40 years of experience.

“I was born and raised into it,’’ says Robinson.

“I guess it’s in my blood. It’s just a good life. It’s rewarding working with animals.’’

Robinson gave local reporters a tour of the dairy operation as part of a recent farm tour organized by the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture, the P.E.I. Potato Board, and the P.E.I. Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

While the operation in Robinson’s estimation is “pretty efficient’’, he still needs to work 13 or 14 hours each day.

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Seventy-five registered Holsteins are milked while Holstein genetics are merchandized.

Many of the cows are also flushed to improve herd and market embryos around the world.

Robinson and his wife Leslie, along with Robinson’s parents Brian and Martha, moved to P.E.I. in 2003 from Nova Scotia, where they had a milking operation of 80 to 90 cows.

As well as a dairy operation, Blue Diamond Farms grows corn silage and alfalfa, and mill their own grain.

P.E.I. Potato Board general manager Greg Donald says the farm tour consisted of this operation along with P.E.I. Potato Solutions because both are multi-generation and innovative.

“They’ve very adaptable,’’ says Donald.

“They’re leaders in adapting to change and progressive in the way they run their farm businesses.’’

jday@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/PEIGuardian

Here is a snapshot of agriculture in P.E.I.:

— Close to 95,000 acres of wheat, oats, barley and mixed grain and 61,000 acres of oilseeds were planted on the Island in 2014.

— In 2014, Island producers harvested 26 million hundredweight of potatoes.

— Lowbush blueberries make up the largest acreage of commercial fruit crops at 13,000 acres.

— Beef production is a part of 40 per cent of P.E.I. farms.

— There are approximately 180 dairy farms in the province.

— Hog production has stabilized with 19 commercial farms marketing about 66,000 hogs.

— Egg production accounts for almost $7 million of farm cash receipts.

— There are about 60 certified organic producers in the province who produce crops and/or raise livestock.

Source: P.E.I. Department of Agriculture and Forestry.