As we wrap up June Dairy Month, Homegrown Frederick wanted to take a moment to recognize a few of those behind the scenes of our family-owned and operated commercial dairy farms in Frederick County. We had the pleasure of meeting with Charlie Lambert of Lambert Farms Inc., and Dee Shafer of Shafdon Farms to learn more about their businesses.Lambert Farms, just outside Frederick, is the true definition of a family farm and was named the 2020 Frederick County Farm Family of the Year. Third-generation brothers Charlie and Donnie Lambert oversee farm operations, while their mother, Esther, still manages the books. In total, seven family members work on the farm full-time, although you can find most members of the Lambert family lending a hand, including the brothers’ grandchildren. Each member has areas of specialty on the farm, but Charlie noted how they continually work together to execute tasks. One thing Charlie mentioned that most people would not realize is how handy farmers must be. “We always keep extras of just about everything on hand. We have to be able to fix most problems ourselves to get back up and running as quickly as possible.”

Shafdon Farms, located in Jefferson, is another family-owned and operated dairy farm. Denny and Teresa Shafer and their son and daughter-in-law Brent and Dee Shafer own and manage the operation. Brent and Dee are the third generation to farm on their current property but approximately seventh generation farmers in each of their families. The family has also marketed their milk through the same cooperative for more than 70 years. Impressive! Shafdon Farms has five full-time and eight part-time employees assisting with day-to-day operations. One interesting fact is how Shafdon receives spent grain (the product that is leftover after breweries make beer) from Frederick’s very own Flying Dog Brewery. This brewer’s grain is an ingredient added to a custom-formulated feed mix for their animals.

The majority of dairy farms market their milk through cooperatives like the Lamberts (Land O’ Lakes, Inc.) and Shafers (Maryland and Virginia Milk Producers) and are passionate about providing the best care for their animals to produce the highest quality milk possible. On a dairy, the cows and the farm come first. Farmers work with veterinarians, dairy nutritionists and genetics professionals, agronomists and more on a regular basis. They have more educated professionals for their animals than the average person has for him/herself! The Lamberts and Shafers also utilize technology through dairy management programs to track milk production and quality, vaccinations and health patterns of each animal, as well as feed quality and inventories. Charlie said, “It’s hard work, but we do it because we enjoy it. On a dairy farm, every day is different.” “Vacations are rare and scheduling anything in advance is near impossible,” says Dee, “but I love being together working alongside my family every day helping to provide food to the world.”

Dee left us with the remarkable statistic that less than two percent of the United States population are farmers providing us with vital foods and fiber. That number in Frederick County in the most recent census (2017) included 91 dairy farms. As farmers become more efficient, they are able to increase production while reducing their carbon footprint.

As Dairy Month comes to a close, take time to thank a local farmer, especially a dairy farmer. They have one of the most difficult but rewarding, 24/7/365 careers in the world.

Farm Statistics:

Lambert Farms Shafdon Farms
Cows Milked  290 2 times per day  300 3 times per day
Total Cropland Acres Owned and Leased  1200  600
Total Animals (Including Youngstock)  650  580