Through the Generations: A brief history
Our dairy farm has been family owned since the early 1900s, when Ervin Bonlender and his wife, Margaret, entered the milk business by purchasing the farm from Margaret’s parents.
In 1967, the couple sold the farm to their son, Joe Bonlender Sr., and his wife, Louise. They continued the tradition of working their legacy, growing the business and maintaining the family's reputation for providing quality dairy products.
Joe Jr. and his brother, Gary, had grown up working on the farm their entire lives. In 1978, they formed a partnership with their parents and changed the company name to Clover Hill Dairy. Shortly after, they added the farm's first milking parlor, which enabled them to milk 140 cows three times each day. The partnership continued until 1998, when Joe Jr. and wife Chris bought the dairy and the land it sits on. The couple formed Clover Hill Dairy, LLC. By this time, we had increased production to milking 500 cows three times a day and working 550 acres of land.
By the turn of the century, we added a new milking parlor, additional free stall barns and lots more cows. In 2005, Joe and Chris' children, Sara and Brett, came to work in the family business. We continued to add free stall barns and cows over the years and, in 2006, built our methane digester.Sara and Brett became business partners in 2011.
Today, our fifth-generation family-owned business milks 1,700 cows in a modern operation that looks quite different from the way it did when Sara and Brett's great-great- grandparents built it. Thankfully, when it comes to family pride of ownership and the values learned being brought up on a dairy farm, some things will never change.
Clover Hill Dairy will always act with integrity by doing what is best for our families, community and consumers. We will treat our animals, land and resources with respect and leave our world, and our business, a better place.
Clover Hill Dairy, LLC is an innovative, fifth-generation dairy that strives to:
Operate a dairy business that provides our employees and their families a good standard of living, a safe working environment and a solid future.
Provide a clean, comfortable, humane atmosphere for every animal on our dairy.
Produce safe and wholesome milk for the production of healthy dairy products.
Continually improve our operation, prevent pollution of the land, comply with regulations and ultimately leave our homeland better for generations to come.
Environmental Management System (EMS)
We employ an EMS for numerous reasons. One is to help us comply with regulatory demands. Another is to ensure that we are protecting and improving the health and safety practices for our employees and the public. By having consistent systems in place, we can do this in a cost-effective way.
Closely tied to our EMS is nutrient management planning, a structured way to protect water quality and soil health by managing manure and its nutrients. As you can imagine, a farm with 2000 cows produces an abundant supply of manure.
In 2006, we built a methane digester capable of repurposing manure to benefit both our farm and the greater environment.
Beneficial byproducts converted from our manure include:
Electricity that meets the power needs of 400 homes daily
An environmentally safe, nutrient-rich fertilizer than can be used on small farms and even home gardens (we use it on our farm too)
A pathogen-free bedding product for cattle