Hourigan’s Dairy Farm
From the thousands of brightly colored flowers planted in the ground to the top of a cow-patterned silo, and on all 8,000 acres in between, Nancy and John Hourigan of Hourigan’s Dairy Farm have clearly made their mark in this world.
It all started back in 1964 when John and Nancy worked on his parents’ dairy farm, John following a path he knew he would always take, and Nancy just beginning her life as a mother, wife and business partner with her husband. And now, 45 years into the life as a farm family, they proudly show where hard work and commitment can lead good people. “I never thought of doing anything else,” John said. “I wouldn’t change a thing.” Nancy adds with a smile, “It’s been a wild ride.”
Byrne Dairy partners from the beginning, the Hourigans are committed to Byrne Dairy today and enjoy the relationship they’ve had over the years. “My father shipped to Byrne Dairy,” John said. So it was natural for the Hourigans to continue working with a solid, dependable local company. “They are good people to work with,” John said. The Hourigans know that when they call Byrne Dairy for any reason, the person who answers will know them by their first name. Relationships like that are important in a business that depends on a strong support system of people and trust.
Running a large farm like Hourigan’s Farm, with about 950 Holsteins, and large crop production as well, requires constant connections with veterinarians, nutritionists, accountants, planners, salespeople, government officials, and the Byrne Dairy quality team.
The Hourigans place an emphasis on work ethic, which has kept them working every day of the week at all hours of the day and night. They raised their five children on their farm – John remembers the night they first started farming on their own with seven cows. It was the same night Nancy was in the hospital delivering their second child. And Nancy has fond memories of maple sugaring with the kids in the woods. “All of our children worked on the farm,” Nancy said. Today, the Hourigan children are grown, all of them working successfully – two work in the medical field, one is a software engineer, another is in corporate sales. One son, Matt, who, like his father, knew from a very early age he was going to be a farmer, has partnered with John and Nancy on the farm. And many of their grandchildren visit and help on the farm.
As they raised their family on the farm, the Hourigans say they always used Byrne Dairy products because they know the level of quality of the milk product. Back when Byrne Dairy asked the farmers to sign a contract that made them promise not to use growth hormones on their cows, John Hourigan was more than happy to comply.“We experimented with it but chose never to use it,” John said. “We have great production with our cows, we were happy with what the cows were doing anyway.”And the cows are happy as well. The calves have their own natural light nursery, and the dry cows graze comfortably in the field behind the Hourigans’ home. On occasion a cow will walk slowly past a living room window. Even the beds the cows sleep on have fresh straw placed in their stalls, three times per day, every day. “John has always said he wouldn’t make the cows sleep on something he wouldn’t sleep on,” Nancy said.
Each day the cows produce 70,000 pounds of milk making a yearly total of about 25 million pounds sold to Byrne Dairy. That level of production was made possible after a large expansion of the farm in 1993. “John is a good visionary,” Nancy said of her husband. While John deals more with the expansion and management, Nancy deals with the money side of the farm, and the landscaping. “She has good taste,” John said of her style. Adding with a laugh, “she chose me.”
The Hourigans also stay involved in the community, hosting hundreds of school visits at their farm, and participating in community events at which Byrne Dairy has always donated milk products. Nancy said whenever she has participated in a charitable event, from farm tours and pancake breakfasts to farm bureau conventions and Lions Club meetings, Byrne Dairy has always made contributions.“They have been really generous and never denied me anything,” Nancy said. Nancy and John have appreciated the relationship with Byrne Dairy over the years, “It’s a symbiotic relationship,” Nancy said. Minutes later she grabs a gallon of Byrne Dairy milk from her fridge for breakfast before another busy day at the farm is set to begin.