After 104 years as a dairy operation, the Robb Family Farm of Battleboro, Vt., milked its last Holstein on August 4 and began preparing for its next era.

"There were a lot of tears that day. We still got some dairy cows, but they'll be going as they get bred," said Charlie Robb Sr., reports the Battleboro Reformer. "We were working so hard just to support the milkers, we woke up to the fact that we were working so hard to keep the milk cows here. It was not good."

The Robb family announced in May that it was leaving the milking business to focus on maple syrup products, as well as a new line of meats grown naturally on the farm. The family recently released an assortment of antibiotic-free, hormone-free beef products, including everything from ground beef to filet mignon.

"It has been a couple of months and I am very optimistic. We are not incurring those huge grain bills and we're not handling as much money as we did certainly, but it was going right through," said Helen Robb, Charlie's wife. "And this way we're paying our bills and I think we all sleep better at night."

Charlie Robb Jr., who used to manage the dairy operation for up to six hours daily, said his family has long recognized the value of eating naturally-grown and local foods. The family purchased a herd of Hereford and Charolais cattle and grass-feed them, as well as Simmental cattle, on the 360-acre farm. They recently processed their first two cows, getting about 500 pounds of meat per animal.

"We know how to grow animals and grow feed, so it's just a learning curve of marketing the meat," Robb Jr. said.

Source: Battleboro Reformer