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Del Rio Dairy: Sustaining for the next generation

Jordan Manning for Progressive Dairy Published on 05 March 2021
Rocky and LIz Gingg

When Rocky and Liz Gingg started in the dairy business west of Phoenix, Arizona, they weren’t sure if they wanted to build a house on the farm or in town.

Liz, a city girl from Tempe, Arizona, asked her father-in-law, who said, “Well, the best thing for the kids is to be on the farm.”

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Decision made, and the Ginggs have never looked back. After raising a family on the dairy, the Ginggs moved to Friona, Texas, to operate Del Rio Dairy in 2010. Now Rocky and Liz get to watch the next generation become involved in the family business, with daughter Crystal Moroney returning to the farm with her husband, Nathan.

Nathan, Crystal, Max, Ruby and Nathan Jr. Moroney

According to Rocky, whose family goes back at least three generations of dairy farming in Switzerland, California and Arizona, “It’s a dream come true to have your own children involved in something you’ve spent your life doing.”

Following dreams – some unexpected

Although Crystal was accustomed to farm life, it was still a surprise for her and Nathan to go to work with her parents at Del Rio Dairy. Crystal went to school for fashion advertising, and Nathan had grown up in the city. But when Del Rio’s manager put in their notice four days after the couple moved to Friona, Nathan had to hit the ground running to fill the role.

“It has been a learn-on-the-run experience, but a very educational and interesting transition for me,” said Nathan. “If someone gets the chance to take on more responsibilities for their farm or someone else’s, I encourage them to do it.”

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Nathan brings a strong background in business and economics to the farm but says his favorite part is working with the animals. His first concern is their well-being.

“A cow that’s comfortable – a cow that’s well taken care of – is a valuable asset,” said Nathan. “You take care of her, and she takes care of you.”

When Nathan isn’t managing the dairy, he’s likely training for his next cycling race. He started riding over 15 years ago, when he was burnt out from his time at the gym. He turned his focus outside to mountain biking and hasn’t missed the gym since. Short cross-country races turned into long-distance racing, at times biking over 100 kilometers and training whenever he has a free moment.

Cycling, like dairy farming, is a family affair in the Moroney house. Nathan, Crystal and their three kids pack up their camper and head to races throughout the region. “All the kids have bikes and compete in races at the larger bike events,” said Nathan. “Taking the family with me to the races gives us a chance to see the sites, go fishing and spend time together.”

And Crystal, who after interning for fashion companies and deciding the corporate workplace wasn’t for her, has kept books for Del Rio for over 15 years. Her favorite part of the job has been the chance to make memories with her parents, husband and their kids.

“I make my dad and husband lunch every day,” she said. “I can bring our kids to work, too, and we can just be together and have fun together while we’re working.”

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While working on the dairy with her family has been Crystal’s dream, she had the opportunity to make another dream a reality. Crystal opened a retail store, Milk House Market, alongside her mom, Liz, in 2014. Two years later, Crystal purchased a historic building in downtown Friona to move into, and since then Milk House Market has become a shopping destination for décor, furniture, clothing and gifts.

“The store is my creative outlet and inspiration,” said Crystal. “It has been a wild experience that opens so many doors.”

Innovative barn design driving cow comfort and conservation

Saudi-style barn

With Rocky Gingg and his family coming from Arizona, where there was more emphasis on cooling for dairies in the arid climate, he saw an opportunity to use a barn design for Del Rio Dairy that would be unique to the Texas Panhandle but would help keep cows cooler in the warm summer months.

Rocky went with a Saudi-style barn design where feed is always in the shade, protected from the elements, and cows can go inside and out of the “free-choice” shelter. Another benefit is drier pens under the barn where cows eat, reducing foot issues that cause discomfort and lower productivity.

Saudi-style barn

“It’s important to us that these cows are comfortable,” said Rocky. “They work for us, and we work for them.”

Along with increased cow comfort, productivity and feed conservation, the innovative barn design has allowed for a creative way to collect rainwater in an area that only gets around 17 inches a year on average. Del Rio’s barns were built with a gutter system, similar to a home, that capture rainwater, later piped to lagoons to be used for crop irrigation.

From strong family bonds to innovative practices keeping their dairy sustainable to pass on to the next generation, Del Rio Dairy is looking to the future.  end mark

PHOTO 1: Rocky and Liz Gingg

PHOTO 2: Nathan, Crystal, Max, Ruby and Nathan Jr. Moroney

PHOTO 3 & 4: Del Rio Dairy keeps cows comfortable with a Saudi-style barn. Photos courtesy of Dairy Max.

This article is brought to you courtesy of Dairy MAX.

Jordan Manning is a manager, farmer communications with Dairy MAX. Email Jordan Manning.

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