In 1920 Edward Mulligan started Mulligan Farm in Avon, New York. The farm has always been a dairy, however in its fruition, the farm was home to an assortment of livestock including, beef cattle, sheep, and pigs. Today, the 4th generation farm is owned and operated by Jeff and Lesa Mulligan. The Mulligan family works 2,800 acres of land and cares for 1,500 dairy cows in Livingston County. As owners and managers of a dairy farm, Jeff and Lesa, have made numerous modernizations to the operation. The farm has grown and integrated advanced technologies to increase efficiencies and provide better care for their animals, land, and employees.
The community in which the farm is a part of is rooted in agriculture. It is viewed as both a cultural and historical staple by local patrons. Farming is part of the identity of this area in New York State. Therefore, the Mulligan family has taken the appropriate steps to guarantee that farming will maintain a part of their community and their family’s legacy.
In 2010, Jeff and his family decided that they wanted to legally preserve the farmland that their family has farmed for a century.
The solution was a conservation easement. This is a legal document that permanently protects the land for agriculture in perpetuity. Currently, the family has secured 1,241 acres under this land protection initiative with another 550 acres that have been accepted into the easement but not yet approved.
Jeff and Lesa’s daughter, Emilie and nephew, Forrest also have active roles on the dairy. Emile is the farm’s herd manager which means that she is responsible for caring for the milking herd and young stock. Emilie has been a full-time member of her farm since returning from Cornell University in 2015. Assisting Emilie with the herd is another valued employee, Omar, who has been at Mulligan’s for twelve years. Together, Emilie and Omar, make sure that the cows are fed a nutrient rich diet, rest on clean and comfortable bedding, have free choice to fresh water, and are kept healthy through all stages of life.
Forrest Watson is the farm’s equipment and crop manager. Forrest is responsible for the farm’s machinery maintenance, field soil health, crop rotations, nutrient management and implementation plans, and growing and harvesting high quality feed for their dairy herd. Forrest and other members of the field crew are committed to using farming practices that they believe are the most environmentally friendly. The farm strictly uses no-till practices and cover crops to preserve soil and limit erosion. Additionally, the manure collected from the cows is used as the farm’s primary source of fertilizer for the corn, alfalfa, and wheat that they grow.
Mulligan Farm strives to create a safe and satisfying environment for all those involved with their dairy. “We believe adamantly in the concern for our employees, our cows and our land,” says a member of the Mulligan family. They continue, “Our team approach is how we can achieve high levels of cow comfort (and) attention to detail provides comfortable, profitable cows.” Mulligan Farm stands out among the many dairy farms in NY State not only because of their beautiful barns, healthy cows, and pleasant personalities, but because of their passion for the preservation of rural America and the farming community.