Succession Plans for Posslea Farm Holstein
Updated: Nov 17, 2022
John Haviland, a United Empire Loyalist, arrived in Norfolk County in 1802 and established a farm on 600 acres near Wilsonville. Following generations split the original acreage till current descendants Doug and Roger Poss have only 100 acres of the original property.
The brothers have worked this land and tended a dairy herd for decades and are now in process of working through a succession plan to Doug’s son Robin and daughter-in-law Mallory and daughter Lauren and son-in-law Darryl Hazen.
Darryl worked at Titan Trailers and started farming with Doug and Roger in 2013. The young men are the 8th generation of the family to farm in this location. Robin wasn’t sure if farming would be his future; he took the Environmental Management program at Ridgetown which offered more options, graduated in 2006 and worked in agricultural retail till 2018.
The dairy herd had been housed in an old tie stall barn which was inefficient and labour intensive. After much discussion and time spent touring other dairy operations, the decision was made in 2015 to build a new barn. This was completed in 2016. The new barn made a huge difference. A modern, airy free stall barn, it is equipped with a robot milker, feed pusher, alley scrapers, fans and curtains. All of these features allow for greater efficiency and less manual labour. The men are able to oversee all aspects of the business on their cell phones, with information transmitted from the computerized equipment. As Doug said, “This knows if a cow is sick before she does.”
The dairy herd numbers about 135 head of Holstein cattle with about 55 milking at any time. The remainder are calves, young replacement stock and dry cows. The herd is registered with DHI (Dairy Herd Improvement) and type classified.
The two young men are now working 800 acres, growing wheat, soybeans and corn in a three crop rotation as cash crops. They also grow some corn for silage for the dairy herd and harvest 100 acres of hay for feed.
Doug and Roger are now semi-retired, as the young men are now responsible for most of the day-to-day work. Roger still takes care of the book keeping while Doug describes himself as the, ”go-fer.” Both pitch in to help in barn or field as needed.
Covid caused some challenges in the winter as some family members caught the virus. They worked diligently and carefully to protect other family members, particularly Doug and Roger’s 101-year-old mom, as well as workers such as the milk trucker who visited the farm regularly.
As to the future, Robin and Darryl hope to see slow and steady growth. Darryl stated that they hope to become big enough to allow the next generation to remain on the farm if they want to do that. Robin added, “Quota is not readily available, and land is unaffordable.” It is a challenge these young men will rise to meet.