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The 10th Generation Dairyman: A dairy farmer and YouTube star

Rachel Coyne for Progressive Dairy Published on 19 May 2020

Eric Weaver of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, advocates for agriculture and the dairy industry online but not through the typical forms of social media like Facebook and Instagram. Rather, Eric – also known by his followers as “The 10th Generation Dairyman” – looked to YouTube in 2018 to share his farm’s story.

The Weaver family owns 250 acres and raises 150 replacement heifers. They milk 200 Holstein cows in a swing-14 parlor, and the cows are housed in a slatted freestall barn. The oldest of four siblings, Eric owns and works on the dairy with his father. The farm team includes one full-time employee and a few part-time employees. Eric and his wife, Emily, have a 5-month-old daughter.

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“I decided to start the page because I liked seeing other farmers work, and I thought my job was unique. I have not seen many farmers post the jobs they do on a farm of our size. We have lots of different things going on at the farm, and my job is a mix of a lot of those different things,” Weaver says. “The page became a way to show the public what real dairy farming is like and show that we try to take good care of our animals. I didn’t start the page for activists or anything; I try to stay away from that. I just try to show we are real people.”

Weaver’s videos do just that. They show real life on the farm and all of the work that Eric and his family do on a daily basis. No two videos are alike, as no two days on the farm are the same. Eric says, “I use a GoPro with a magnet on the back and stick it to things around me while I work, like a gate or the back of a tractor. I have a drone as well that I use occasionally.”

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Eric’s camera allows him to capture every little detail of his work on the farm. After a day of shooting videos, Eric edits the film. “I do all the editing myself. It doesn’t slow me down too much to film on any given day, and the editing takes anywhere between one to four hours, depending on the video. I don’t do any fancy editing; people like it when I keep it simple,” he says.

While many social media personalities have pages on multiple outlets, Weaver chose to focus solely on his YouTube channel. He says, “It would be a lot to keep up to have a lot of other pages like Facebook or Instagram. It would take a lot of extra time that my videos do not take up.”

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Eric’s videos range from milking cows to moving calves to covering bunkers. His fame grew from one video toward the beginning of his YouTube career when he got a few shoutouts from other people.

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“I posted a video mixing feed for the cows, and it got 500,000 views. The more views, the easier it was for people to find my page,” he says. His video, “A Day in the Life of a Dairyman,” got to 50,000 subscribers. Some of the most popular videos Weaver posts are of corn silage in the fall, that have over 1 million views. He even received an award from YouTube for passing 100,000 subscribers. “Anytime that we have something interesting going on during the day, I try to film it. Once I start, I just film throughout the entire day. My followers seem to like it when I just show the normal days on the farm like milking or field work, basically anything that is going on. I don’t really need to plan out which days I am going to film,” he says.

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(Click on the image above to watch the video.)

While Eric is the primary star of his videos, you can sometimes see others taking part. “My dad and our one full-time employee, Megan, are in some videos. When we have part-time workers or people are out to help cover bunker, I make sure to ask those people if they are comfortable being in the videos,” he says.

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Weaver’s family has welcomed the success of his videos, and they enjoy watching the channel develop. “My family thinks it is pretty crazy! They didn’t expect it to be this successful or know how much it could grow. You can get people excited and acquire fans through the internet,” he says.

The stardom that he has found was not lost on Eric as he spoke about his channel. “I keep thinking the fame is going to level off, but then the page grows again,” he says. “I love that the page keeps growing, but I have learned that with YouTube, I can’t set goals or try to keep the page growing. If subscription growth is going to happen, then it is going to happen on its own.”

As for being a 10th generation dairy farmer, Eric explained, “In the 1700s, four Swiss-German brothers acquired 1,000 acres of land from William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania. One of those four brothers is my lineage. At the time, their last name was ‘Weber’ but somewhere along the way, the name got changed,” he says.

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“In 1900, a small dairy barn was built and in the 1940s and 50s, my grandpa bottled and delivered milk. Today, my dad and I own the farm, as my uncle has transitioned out of ownership,” he adds. “I believe we have a sheepskin deed to the land stored away somewhere. Today, we still farm 95 acres on that original chunk of land.”

Subscribe to follow along with The 10th Generation Dairyman on YouTube.  end mark

PHOTO 1: Eric, his wife, Emily, and their daughter pose in front of the milking parlor.  

PHOTO 2: Eric Weaver is pictured here milking cows on his family farm. 

PHOTO 3: Weaver videos himself doing "real life" on the farm, including feeding his cows in their freestall barn. 

PHOTO 4: The 10th Generation Dairyman's most viewed video, "Corn Silage Harvest Begins | Filling the Big Bunk" has 1.6 million views. 

PHOTO 5: An aerial photo of the Weaver family's dairy farm, likely captured from Weaver’s drone. Photos provided by Eric Weaver.

Rachel Coyne is a freelance writer and a student at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.

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