October 19, 2017
Outside of Carpenter sits a large number of buildings that is the home of Burnett Enterprises, a dairy, farm and feedlot. It has come a long way from the bare ground in 1998 to the present day.
Jeff and Jay Burnett came from Hereford, CO. After college they landed in the Carpenter area to farm and feed cattle. Along with their families, they started a feedlot in 1998 on ground generously given to them by their parents. The feedlot was used solely for beef cattle until Dec 2003 when the "mad cow disease" came along making cattle unmarketable for about 45 days. This caused a huge set back and some discouragement. Through reorganizing the plan for the business's future, one of the "cards" that appeared was the dairy business. In 2004, the Burnetts started milking cows as well as still running the feedlot. The business is a four way split between Jeff, Kim (Jeff's wife), brother Jay and Jay's wife Lisa. Jeff, Kim, and Jay all work the dairy, farm and feedlot. They each have specific duties, although they are all familiar with all parts of the operation. Lisa Burnett is not active on the business, since she operates her own graphic design business.
3000 cows are milked 3 times per day, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 365 days per year. Part of the 45 full time employees work milking shifts of 6 am to 2 pm, 2 pm to 10 pm, and 10 pm to 6 am all year around. Although not all the employees live on the property, 21 houses are available on the property for some of the families. The whole milk is shipped raw. 3 ½ semi-loads are sent out daily. Most of it goes to the Leprino Cheese Factory in Greeley, CO. Burnett Enterprises is a member of DFA (Dairy Farmers of America) Co-op. The farm has to be FDA (Food & Drug Administration) inspected to be able to sell milk for food purposes. All dairies must stay in good status with the FDA to be able to sell grade A milk.
Cattle are also raised for harvest for meat. The cattle for this purpose are supplied from the dairy herd's male calves, the Burnett's beef cow herd and purchased cattle. The facility is capable of holding about 10,000 head in total. This includes milk cows, replacement heifers for the milking herd, and cattle being fed for beef. About 430,000 pounds of feed is fed to these animals daily. Normally 3000 ton of alfalfa is purchased over what is grown on the property for feed every year.
Farming is done to provide food for the animals along with purchasing feed from neighboring farms. Burnett shared, "You know the dairy dollar turns over 7 times in the community, which is one the unique things about a dairy. The dollar just keeps getting spent with the services, feed and crops you buy, and the wages you pay. Plus, all the other expense in the cost of operations. It is a big boost to the community to have a dairy in the area."
Offers and exposure are presented to the Burnetts on a regular basis for expansion, which they analyze constantly to see if there is opportunity for growth and the best way to accomplish it. Mr. Burnett and his peers see the biggest struggle is the shortage of employees. The rest of the country, including the President, talk about the need to create more jobs; yet the ag community, that pay a fair wage, cannot get people to come work for them. Mr. Burnett states that is a mystery to him!