Current Progressive Dairy digital edition

5 Things I can't do without: Fred McGuillvray

Published on 11 November 2010


With the present economic crisis, farmers still need supplies and support, and Fred McGuillvray is no exception. After moving his dairy to three different Pennsylvania locations, McGuillvray has finally settled in Newville, Pennsylvania, and made the life he always wanted – owning a milking herd of 100 Holsteins. He explains who and what keeps his business moving.



1. Smith’s Implements Inc.
For a dairy farmer hauling his own manure, planting and harvesting different crops and taking care of all the other daily duties on the farm, this local John Deere dealership has a very important role in McGuillvray’s farm. “We can’t operate without them,” McGuillvray says when talking about the dealership. “We go to them a lot, especially in the summer because that is when bearings go bad and parts wear out.”


2. Crop insurance
“I’m in an area of Pennsylvania where you never know when it is going to rain, which means trouble come growing season,” McGuillvray says. On 270 acres of land, McGuillvray grows corn, soybeans and alfalfa for his herd. “I just don’t know how some farmers get by without crop insurance because if there is a catastrophe they don’t have anything to cover their loss.”

3. Work ethic
McGuillvray grew up on a dairy in New Jersey, where he says his parents, Fred and Barbara, taught him a strong work ethic at a very young age. He views a good work ethic as something that every dairy farmer has to have. “If you don’t want to work, you are going to be in trouble as a dairy farmer,” McGuillvray says. “Finding laborers with strong work ethic is hard, especially in a society where everyone wants a high-paying desk job.” He also says that he is very thankful for the hands-on dairying skills invested in him by his loved ones.

4. Milk company
McGuillvray is a member of the Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association, based out of Reston, Virginia. “You want to get the most for your milk, and they are one of the better-paying companies,” McGuillvray says. “Without someone there to market the products, there would be no place for dairy in the economy.” He deals directly with the company’s local representative, Steve Cornman, on a regular basis and also takes advantage of the company’s supply warehouse when they have the right prices on calf hutches and milk replacer.


5. A baby monitor
After losing a cow and her calf during a calving that began in the middle of the night, McGuillvray made sure it didn’t happen again. He found a baby monitor at a yard sale for $8 and leaves the monitor in his bedroom right next to his alarm clock. McGuillvray says the monitor has saved him from having to physically go out into the barn in the middle of the night for routine checks and has also preserved the lives of numerous calving heifers and their calves. McGuillvray says that knowing what to listen for is the key to this simple addition. “The sounds of birthing, straining grunts and pushing noises are what you want to listen for,” McGuillvray says. “Just beware of the cat fight in the middle of the night.” PD

PHOTO : McGuillvray is very thankful for the hands-on dairying skills invested in him by his loved ones. Photos by Sarah Caldwell.

Click the "5 Things" logo above to view more 5 Things features. And click here to download a pdf with more photos.