Dairy farming is not just a business but rather a way of life. In fact it’s said that a dairy farmer does more by 8 a.m. than most people do in a day.
Established in Elsberry in 1973, the Boedeker Brothers are the billboard children of farmers. Up at 5 a.m., bailing hay by 8 a.m. and surviving off what they can produce. But if you ask Jim Boedeker, he would have it no other way.
“We moved here in 1973, pretty much when O’Fallon began to expand,” explained Jim. “As subdivisions moved in, we started getting crowded. We were looking to expand, more acres and ended up here.”
Jim and his brother Bill Boedeker said they come from a long line of farmers. According to Jim, it’s what they were bred into, what they grew up on and what they will die doing.
“We get up at 5 a.m. every morning and we’re milking by 5:30 a.m. Once milking is complete, which is around 7:30 a.m., we get some breakfast and then head out to continue on with the rest of the day’s chores.”
Currently the Boedeker Brothers Farm has approximately 100 dairy cows and 125 stock cows, which are used in beef production, such as Black Angus. The milk they produce is bottled by Prairie Farms and sold to various stores.
“When you’re at the store buying milk from Prairie Farms, there is a chance it could be our milk you’re buying,” said Jim. “Our milk gets picked up every other day by a tanker and it used to be taken to the Hazelwood plant, I’m not entirely sure where it’s sent to now.”
Crop wise, Jim said they use approximately 2000 acres they use to grow corn and beans, which is their biggest crop production. The fertilizer they use for the crops is from their cows and according to Bill, “Some pretty nutritional stuff, well for the crops anyway.”
“It’s a pretty remarkable thing to be a part of,” said Bill. “Other than the cost of a few things here and there, a lot of what we use for harvest, feed and even food is a product of our work. It’s a very rewarding thing to be a part of, because we get out what we put in.”
Outside of the day to day operations, the Boedeker Brothers also work with organizations like the Elsberry FFA by providing them with straw or even baby calves when the FFA hosts petting zoos or what not. They also allow Elsberry R-II School District to hold field trips there, which according to Bill is a great experience for the students.
“People don’t ever really get to see what goes into the stuff they eat or drink,” explained Bill. “I think a lot of people that filed trip here leave with a deeper appreciation for their food after seeing what all goes into making sure consumers have milk or beef.”
The Boedeker Brothers Farm is staffed with five individuals, Jim, Bill, Burt, Joe and Tom all playing an important role in the success of the farm. Jim said he prefers working with the dairy cows, as that’s what he grew up with; Burt handles most of the feeding, Joe and Tom handle most of the crop work and Bill does it all, including working on his day off.
“Right now there is no talk of expanding again, since there aren’t enough dairy cows in the area to do so,” said Jim. “To go bigger we would have to relocate again to Springfield or somewhere similar and frankly I think we are good right where we are. Dairy wise, we are as big as we plan on getting, as long as feed prices don’t get to high.
Anyone wanting to tour the farm or would like to learn more about dairy and stock cow farming are more than welcome to visit the Boedeker Brothers farm located at 3749 Highway B in Elsberry. Simply call 573-898-2283.