ASHLAND -- Seven generations have toiled in the soil on Ayers Farms, tirelessly molding the property into a present-day dairy dynasty.
Officially founded in 1813, the Ayers family settled on the land near modern-day Perrysville.
In 1947, 30 milking cows were purchased for the property. Almost two decades later, in 1964, Edwin and Ina Ayers decided to incorporate the business, securing their foothold as one of Ashland's leading dairy corporations.
Kathy Ayers represents the seventh generation of her family laboring on the farm. Two generations currently work on the property.
Ayers Farms Inc. is now comprised of 875 acres of corn, 500 acres of beans used as a cash crop, 800 acres of double-cropped rye used for heifer feed, 100 acres of wheat made into straw, 130 acres of rye for seed and straw, and 50 acres of orchard grass made into bales of dry cow hay. They also pasture heifers on 100 acres of land that is too rough to plant crops.
The dominant feature of the farm is the cows. Ayers Farms Inc. houses over 1,300 cows on the property.
Employees on the plantation milk 620 cows three times a day: at 4 a.m., noon and 8 p.m. Each cow averages about 12.5 gallons of milk per day.
According to Kathy Ayers, cows can be charismatic and enjoy adhering to a strict schedule.
“Cows like repetition; they like the same thing every day," Ayers said. "They really have a routine.
“I tell people, ‘Don’t spoil the cows.’ Some of them are really friendly, but then they become 1,500 pounds and all of sudden want to play. We actually had to sell a heifer because she was chasing people."
Cows on the property will get a 60-day vacation from milking if they are becoming dry, but they'll be put back to work once they birth a calf.
Each cow is fed a precisely-measured ration of feed. Some of the mixture is accrued from other companies that have a relationship with the Ayers family.
“This is wet brewers," Ayers said, holding a pile of fluffy, brown grain, "That’s what the grains that make beer look like after they’re done with them.
"It comes from Anheuser-Busch in Columbus. For them it’s a byproduct, but it works: they get a little out of it and it’s a good source of feed for us.”
A plethora of individuals make the entire Ayers' operation possible. The ranch includes several employees including nutritionists, financial consultants, veterinarians etc.
The barns that hold the cows are constructed on a slight slope that allows for gravitational liquid flushing.
Kathy's father also painted several pairs of googly eyes throughout the property as an attempt to deter crows.
Ayers Farms Inc. has been recognized by the Soil and Water Conservation District for its admirable conservation efforts.