The Maine Green Pastures Committee visited two of the state’s dairy farms in July and selected Paine Farm as the recipient of the 2022 Maine Outstanding Dairy Farm of the Year.
Dean and Juanita Paine are the current owners of the farm. Their son, Josh, along with two part-time employees, runs the farm.
The farm has a rich family history. In began in the early 1920s when Dean’s great-grandmother, Elsie Stoutamyer, bought the land that the farm currently sits on for $1,800 and moved from Virginia to Madison, Maine. The family even received a visit from President Franklin D. Roosevelt when he was visiting Maine in the 1930s, and Virginia, Dean’s mom, at 4 years old, got to meet the president and shake his hand.
Virginia married Gerald Paine in 1952, and in 1955, they bought the farm from Dean’s grandfather. The Paines raised chickens until the 1970s. From 1981 to 1984, Gerald and Virginia raised heifers after deconstructing the chicken barns, and in 1984, they began milking cows in a tiestall barn.
Dean bought the dairy farm in 1996 from Gerald and milked 42 cows.
Rebuilding the farm
In 2014, the farm suffered a barn fire that caused the Paines to rent a farm in Norridgewock just to get by. This began the rebuilding of the operation to new freestall facilities and the conversion from a pipeline to a double-8 parallel milking parlor.
Now, the farm milks 130 cows, mostly Holsteins but sprinkled with a few crossbreds. The herd produces just over 25,000 pounds of milk per cow, testing 4.2% butterfat and 3.3% protein.
The farm has an active cropping program that produces feed for the cows and young stock with 250 acres of hay, 220 acres of corn and 25 acres of alfalfa. The Paines have a self-propelled mower and sell excess silage and hay to local farms.
They also run a farm stand with vegetables and sell beef locally. Josh also has a business of creating pig hide for lobster bait.
Gerald Paine died earlier this summer, but he was an integral part of the farm. He was recognized as the oldest farmer in Madison and loved to decorate a float to participate in the Madison-Anson days.
Pereira is assistant Extension professor of animal science and dairy specialist with University of Maine Extension.