New Director, Bill Hedstrom for District 19 Kalispell, MT says “I have always believed you don’t work a day in your life if you love what you’re doing,” …which is why he continues to milk 300 Holsteins twice a day after over 40 years!
Bill and his wife, Marilyn, have been happily married for nearly 50 years. They started their journey in 1971 with the purchase of a single cow, bought to produce milk for themselves and their four children. One cow quickly turned into a 200-cow herd and the couple faced the ups and downs of the dairy industry over the years. Like many producers, the point came when the family had to make some tough and important decisions for the future if they wanted to save the livelihood they loved.
Thankfully, the youngest of Bill and Marilyn’s children, Marybeth, and her husband Jared, decided to come back to the farm to help. The couple partnered with Bill ten years ago to begin bottling their cream-on-top milk in an on-farm full production creamery under their own Kalispell Kreamery label. Marybeth lives on the dairy today with her husband and four children, serving as the Marketing Manager for their family creamery while her husband manages the bottling plant.
Besides partaking in this niche market, Bill also takes advantage of All West products, programs and services to ensure his dairy’s profitability. “We have been using the CowManager program for over three years. We do all our own preg testing using the IDEXX on-farm program. We are also working with NEOGEN Gene-Seek to certify our A2A2 cows,” Bill shared.
He will be the first to tell you he has never had a bull on his dairy, leaving the reproductive business exclusively to All West/Select Sires for over 40 years. “We select bulls for Calving Ease and Net Merit mostly. Currently, we are selecting bulls for A2A2 as we intend to produce and provide for the A2A2 niche market in the future.”
It is obvious that Bill is not afraid to adapt to a changing industry, respond to consumer demands, and try new things, including accepting the position of All West/Select Sires District 19 Director. “I think it is important that Western Montana be represented on the board in spite of the fact that there are so few of us left. After 40 years of milking cows, I realize the importance of quality, not only for milk produced but for products we purchase.” Bill looks forward to providing guidance to All West to grow in his region of our territory, while learning from other board members.
Aside from their youngest daughter Marybeth, Bill and Marilyn have three other grown children. Their eldest, Helen, is a high school special education teacher, married with two grown children. Another daughter, AnnaMarie, is a rancher with her husband and family of four on a large spread of land in eastern Montana. Bill and Marilyn’s only son, Joe, has Downs Syndrome and lives happily on the family farm with them, where he drives skid steer and loads cows in to the milking parlor, among other daily chores.
“There is nothing I enjoy more than working with cows and the family and employees on the farm where I live,” said Bill. We’re happy to welcome him and his family to the All West/Select Sires Board of Directors and Delegates!