Craig was born and raised in Ferdinand, and started working around his family’s dairy farm in middle school. He graduated from Purdue University in 2002 with a degree in agricultural economics, then took a job with Farbest Farms as a flock supervisor for 13 years before returning to the family dairy farm as it was going through a period of growth and transition.
“We went from milking 150 cows to 400 cows. That’s when I came back, because there was more opportunity for me at the farm,” Craig said. “That was my chance to be involved more with the farm.”
The farm has been around since 1933, and while they have always milked cows, the Lindauer family has also tried their hand at raising a host of animals, such as goats, chickens and pigs.
Today, Craig and his family exclusively raise Holstein cattle, and the dairy operation produces somewhere in the neighborhood of 120,000 gallons of milk a month. Prairie Farms receives new batches of milk from the Lindauers on a daily basis.
Dairy cows graze during sunrise at Francis Lindauer & Sons Dairy Farms in Ferdinand on August 14.
“As the milk tank trucks come in, the milk is tested, and if it doesn’t live up to the quality that Prairie Farms producers strive for, the load is rejected,” Michael said. “Prairie Farms has a quality standard for all producers, and they know what they’re shooting for in producing top quality milk. [Francis Lindauer & Sons Dairy Farm] is a really good one, they work really hard. We’re fortunate to have them.”
As one can imagine, it takes quite a bit of work to run such a farm that harvests that much milk.
Craig estimates that up to a dozen people work around the farm, between his relatives and the hired hands. Ten- to 12-hour work days are the norm for most shifts, and there’s never a shortage of tasks to perform around the farm.
The cows need to be fed three times a day, so feed is always either being prepared, stored or delivered to the various milk houses that dot the 90-acre farm. There’s also a rotating herd of 24 cows that are brought in and milked like clockwork before being moved back to their pens. In addition to the milking cows, there’s another 400 or so that aren’t milking yet that have to be cared for, and the farm also sees the birthing of calves on a fairly regular basis. There’s also tractor and other field work needed to grow the crops the farm uses to feed the cows.