“In the 25 years I have been visiting Conant Acres, it has always been the same: excellent husbandry practices, a love of the breed, and total dedication to the entire dairy industry. I guarantee anyone who visits Conant Acres will remember the herd and the people forever, and that’s the real touch of a rare master breeder.” David Rama, Cattle Exchange
With fewer than 300 dairy farms remaining in Maine, most people don’t associate fine dairy cattle with the state. They may be surprised to learn that one of the most well-known breeding operations in the country is located in a small town here in the western foothills.
Conant Acres in Canton, Maine is an award winning dairy farm that is owned and operated by Duane and Betty Conant and their son, Dennis, and daughter, Debbie, and their respective families. Today there are four generations of the family that work on the farm, with each family member having their own area of expertise on the operation. This helps explain the farm’s slogan, “Where Families Come First.”
Today Conant Acres’ herd consists of 250 cows of which 101 are classified Registered Holstein Cattle, and the Holstein Association USA has classified all the cows in the herd as Excellent or Very Good for confirmation. This herd rating sets them apart from their peers, and Conant Acres currently ranks first in the country for BAA (Breed Age Average) among herds of its size.
The Conant family is committed to producing high volumes of high quality milk for consumers, and they are proud to be farmer owners and suppliers for the Agri-Mark Cooperative, producers of Cabot brand products. The herd at Conant Acres is milked twice per day and the cows currently produce an average of 28,391 pounds of milk with 3.6% fat and 3.0% protein.
Conant Acres is recognized across the United States and internationally for breeding and developing high quality, pedigree cattle. They have utilized technologies, such as embryo transfer, to continue developing these exciting cow families, and through the years have exported thousands of embryos to more than 15 countries around the world.
Milk sales account for about two-thirds of Conant Acres’ income. The other third comes from sales of feed, primarily corn silage, and from cattle and embryo sales. Each year the farm sells 20 to 25 milking animals and a few younger animals to other dairy farms, with some selling privately and others marketed through public auctions.
Conant Acres has received local, regional and national recognition for its cattle and for the wholesome milk it produces. Agri-Mark, the New England cooperative that purchases Conant Acres’ milk, awarded the farm the Top Quality Milk Producers Award in 2013. Doug DiMento, Director of Corporate Communications for Agri-Mark said, “The Conants are a very nice family and we are proud to have them as members, not only for the quality of milk they produce, but also because of the quality of people that they are.” Additionally, the farm was recognized by the National Dairy Shrine with their Distinguished Breeder Award in 2009. The National Holstein Association has honored Conant Acres for 24 years with the Progressive Breeder Award, ever since the award was introduced, and in June 2015 they recognized Conant Acres with the Elite Breeder Award. Furthermore, both the Conant and Keene branches of the family have been honored with the Farm Family of the Year award.
The farm is on 300 acres along the Androscoggin River in Canton, ME. This land is used for crop production, namely corn for silage, and alfalfa and grass varieties that are used for baleage and dry hay.