Dairyman finding life after cows

A lifelong dairy farmer says selling the cows was the best thing that could have happened to his health.

Hank Choate introduces himself now as a “reconditioned dairy farmer.”

“Getting rid of the milking herd and then raising the heifers out is kind of a soft landing of getting away from cattle that you’ve had your entire life,” he shares.

Choate sold his 500-cow milking herd in mid-2021.  Freestalls have been converted to machinery storage and less than 130 bred heifers remain on the farm.

“It’s a different life than 54-plus years as a dairy farmer,” he says.  “I still can’t break my wake-up call in the morning beyond 3:30 a.m.”

Today, the nearly 73-year-old farms 1,800 acres of corn, soybeans, and wheat in mid-Michigan with his son and brother.  When asked about the impact of high costs on the operation, Choate’s first thought was how it’s impacting dairy.

“Moving into January and February, we may be down to where the average cost of production is going to be greater than the actual revenues—it’s going to be very, very challenging for the dairy industry,” he says.

He tells Brownfield, at his latest doctor visit, his blood pressure was down and he’s healthier than he has been in a long time as the everyday stress from dairying is gone. 

Choate was recently named Michigan Farm Bureau’s 2022 Presidential Volunteer of the Year award winner.

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