Kleine Dairy Farm

Cedar Lake, Indiana
February 28, 2024
Kleine Dairy Farm Family pic

Dave Kleine, of Kleine Dairy Farm in Cedar Lake, Indiana, is a third-generation dairy farmer with the fourth in residency and the fifth taking baby steps. In 1917, Dave’s grandfather milked the first cow on the Kleine property, and the tradition has continued every day since. The supply chain was short in the early days, and the farms spanned far and wide. The train depot behind the farm was the transportation hub to move all the fresh hand-expressed milk. Once the milk was in cans, it hit the rails to service the Chicago markets. Over the decades technologies and methods have advanced, and supply chains span further, but the tradition of a family-run dairy farm remains the same. Today, the Kleine Farm is one of three remaining dairy farms in Lake County, milking 120 Holstein milk cows on a 175-acre farm. For the past twenty years, the farm has used a double six-milking parlor and two 60-cow free stalls. Before 2004, stanchions were used. Besides milk, the farm works 1,000 acres for grain feed and sells as cash crops. In the fall, the farm is a must-stop for décor offering a pumpkin patch, mums, and more.

The Kleine Farm, adorned with red barns, sits near the horn of Lake Michigan along major thoroughfares, so displaying a positive image of the dairy industry is vital to the family. “We are more in the public eye,” said Dave. “We’ve had lots of positive feedback from the community” when bystanders drive past the property or stop by to buy pumpkins and witness the cow-comfort firsthand. Oak trees nestle in the twenty acres of nearby pasture designated for the herd to exercise and have shaded rest. The cow comfort continues inside in the free stalls with cow mattresses.
Sunset at Kleine Dairy Farm

In the 107-year history of the Kleine property, improvements have continuously evolved, but some major changes include how the farm looks at waste. The Kleine Farm utilizes a manure pit and reuses manure throughout in several ways using their Nutrient Management Plan. “We buy very little commercial fertilizer,” Dave noted. Also, implementing more data has helped make time-sensitive decisions that affect the livestock’s health and well-being. The upcoming fourth generation has instituted activity collars for the herd. The collars help track various health points and allow the care team to manage the herd more efficiently with data.

Last fall, the Kleine Farm took center stage with a new audience. The International Dairy Summit returned to the United States in 2023 for the first time in over 30 years and, better yet, in the Midwest. Dave and his family had the opportunity to highlight the daily operation to an international group of farmers. The Kleine property was one of two stops in Indiana for the IDF World Summit Tour. Due to its proximity to Chicago, the Kleine farm made perfect sense. “It was a true honor,” said Dave. Around 50 people connected to the dairy industry, spanning from South America, Asia, and Europe, visited the farm to network and exchange best practices. The farm got to highlight its milking operation, calf barn, work equipment, and more. This sold-out tour displayed a variety of dairy practices and operations in Indiana and neighboring Midwest states. “We got to showcase the different end of the spectrum regarding farm sizes.” Dave also added. 

International Dairy Summit visitors
International Dairy Summit visitors
International Dairy Summit visitors
The care team spans far; it takes a village to keep a farm of any size running smoothly. “We are all in this together,” Dave noted. In addition to the family, the Kleine Farm has a veterinarian, nutritionist, Foremost Farms field representative, and a part-time evening milker. “We’ve gotten the help when we needed it” from all the great Foremost Farms field reps and delegates. Foremost Farms offers the resources to reach out when needed. “They are all great people.”