He chose cow college!

Kyle Stockwell knows cows. As a matter of fact, knowing cows is his job. “Spend enough time with the cows and you know when something is going on,” says Stockwell, Hudson.

When the vet comes, he spills out information about each cow. “I talk to them, and I listen to them — I think that’s helped increase our production.” The numbers seem to agree.

Key Points

Keeping an eye on cows keeps Kyle Stockwell busy.

The young man’s goal is to both grow and improve the herd

Monthly testing provides performance measurement.


The Stockwells’ dairy cows were producing about 77 pounds of milk per day in early summer. That’s up significantly since Kyle began overseeing the milking operation. The herd average is up 2,000 pounds per year during the same time frame.

Kyle’s father, Kevin, remains general manager of the farm operation, but he consults with Kyle when it comes to cows. “It took about a year to gain trust from Dad,” Kyle says. “But now I have free rein since I’ve proven that I can do it.”

His college choice

After high school, Kyle opted for the Dairy Management Program at Michigan State University, where he could test out of math and language, heading straight into their three-semester program that concentrates on crops, business and cows. A mandatory part of the program is an internship. He chose a dairy in Nebraska with a 10,000-head operation.

“It was an eye-opening experience and because of its size, I saw things that I will never see here,” Kyle explains. While classroom learning was important, the internship and hands-on training prepared him the most for the transition when he returned home.

“When I was in school, Dad was either going to get rid of the cows or expand,” he recalls. When he returned home, he was not only willing, but also felt capable to take over the cows. So it wasn’t as much making room for Kyle as it was entrusting him to grow the dairy operation. Buildings and cows have been added since he returned.

Kyle has consistently shown that he can have a successful herd and bring that element of diversity to their farm operation. He’s content with his job.

“I like dealing with the cows more than farming the ground because I can control my own fate a little more,” he says. “It’s easier to get more cows than it is to get ground — ground is harder to come by.”

Kyle’s exams

Most of Kyle’s buddies are still in college taking exams. But Kyle’s got his own testing going on, three times a month. While they don’t reflect a grade average, they do prove the success of his daily efforts.

“Every month I’m involved with pregnancy tests, milk production tests and fresh cows being tested,” he relates. “I’m not cramming for tests like my friends, but I’m doing a lot of preparation for the tests that I face.

“It brings me a lot of satisfaction each month when I see good results. If something isn’t quite right, I’m trying to figure out what to change.”

McClain writes from Greenwood.

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Third generation: Kyle Stockwell hopes the name on the barn says Stockwell Farms for a long time.

This article published in the September, 2011 edition of INDIANA PRAIRIE FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2011.