Younker’s Dairy Named 2011 Cooperator Of The Year
Lance and Carri Younker operate a 50-cow dairy farm located on Barnetts Run Road, near the village of Dott in Bethel Township. In 2006, Lance and Carri acquired the family beef operation, founded by Lance’s grandfather, the late Robert McCray. The young couple became interested in developing a rotational grazing system for their beef cattle upon reading an article in The Fulton County News explaining the economic and environmental benefits of implementing a rotational grazing system. The Younkers contacted the district’s ag specialist, Doug Valentine, who sat down with Lance and Carri to develop a grazing plan to fit their operation’s specific needs. Fourteen thousand feet of perimeter fence was installed, with an additional 3,600 feet of interior fence to create 26.5 acres of newly planted pasture. In order for the cattle to have access to water, 1,990 feet of pipeline was installed with 10 hydrants and portable watering troughs. Also, a new well was drilled to meet the water demands of the animals. Together, the Younkers and the district worked diligently with the assistance of other cooperating agencies to get their rotational grazing system up and running. This project was the big first step in the transition from a more traditional farming operation to a grazing operation, but the farm’s transformation did not end there.
The Younkers have always had a desire to operate a dairy farm, and in 2009, they took additional steps to pursue their ambitions. Beginning in 2010, Lance and Carri worked with local Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) district conservationist Brad Michael to expand their rotational grazing system and manage their manure. The Younkers added an additional 13.5 acres of pasture by installing 8,200 feet of fence, an additional 2,300 feet of pipeline and six more hydrants. They also constructed a new manure storage facility and access road. A concrete heavy use area covering 3,200 square feet and a manure stacking shed were constructed to remediate an area next to the barn that had been trampled down by the cattle and had very little vegetation growing on it. A stabilized animal walkway was also installed, measuring a distance of 780 feet. In addition to the construction of these conservation best management practices, the Younkers also developed a nutrient management plan for their operation. The Younkers have graciously hosted pasture walks and on June 17, 2011, hosted a Grazing Field Day event that was well attended and a great success. For their outstanding conservation ethic and accomplishments, Lance and Carri Younker were proudly chosen to receive the 2011 Fulton County Conservation District Cooperator of the Year Award.