2018 IFGC Outstanding Producer
The Macomber Farm, a 450-acre dairy, forage and grain operation, is located on rolling hills just west of the Pecatonica River north of Freeport in Stephenson County. Principle operators are David and Karen Macomber and their son Mike and his wife Domoni. Other individuals involved with the operation include a neighbor who helps with the milking and alfalfa harvest and some weekend milkers.
The farm grows 110 acres of alfalfa that is cut four times per season. The alfalfa is harvested as haylage and stored in Harvestores and concrete stave silos. The first cutting is made at bud stage and then at intervals of every 30 days. Fertilizer is applied after the first cutting and insecticide applied to the regrowth as needed. Herbicides typically are not applied to the alfalfa. Alfalfa stands are maintained for 4 years. The Macomber’s are considering growing low lignin alfalfa in the next year or so.
Alfalfa is established using oats as a companion crop the seeding year. This forage is chopped (at the boot stage) for dry cow feed. Most of the alfalfa is seeded on hillsides on contour strips to minimize soil erosion.
All the alfalfa is fed to milk cows and heifers. The Holstein herd consists of 110 milking cows with a rolling herd average of 23,000 pounds milk, 910 pounds fat, and 726 pounds protein. Milk is marketed to Midwest Dairy, Rockford, IL. The dairy barn, built in the mid-1960’s, has 108 free stalls with access to pasture during the summer. The milking parlor is a 6-stall side opening system. The farm also grows 30 acres of corn silage that is fed to the dairy herd. Additionally, the Macomber’s grow 240 acres of corn for grain, 40 acres of soybeans, and 30 acres of oats.
David Macomber has been actively involved in the community and with many agriculturally related volunteer efforts. He has served on the Dairy Lab Service board, Prairie States Select Sires board, and the Stephenson FS board. David has served on the Stephenson County Extension council and the Alfolkey Grace Evangelical Congregational Church board. He currently is a trustee for Harlem Township. The Macomber Farm hosted the first Stephenson County Ag Breakfast and hosted the University of Illinois Department of Crop Sciences Forage Variety Trial for many years. The Macomber’s cooperated with University of Illinois Extension and the Department of Crop Sciences in hosting on-farm research including a 4-year potato leafhopper resistant alfalfa study and corn soil insect trials.
David has been a long-time member of the Northwestern Illinois Forage and Grassland Council (and consequently IFGC and AFGC) and a loyal supporter of its’ events and activities.