For almost 70 years, the Van Osch family of Crediton has made farming their priority. What was initially a 100-acre mixed farm has today expanded to over 10,000 acres and 11,000 finishing head of cattle, thanks to the careful and conscious choices of three generations.
Better Farming recently spoke with Brendon and Kurt, part of the ownership team, to learn more about how the family is working toward the further development of the farm for the fourth generation.
“We grew up surrounded by the farm – it’s where we always knew we would come home to,” explains Brendon Van Osch.
“We watched our dads grow and expand, and so when we stepped into larger roles about a decade ago, we really wanted to focus on the efficiencies of each area. “Crops and cattle are so precise. We wanted to learn how we can maximize each area, while making choices that would be sustainable for the future,” he says.
Brendon shares that bringing in consultants was one of the best choices they’ve made, offering knowledge and expertise to help guide the business forward. “Whether it be crops or cows, having an open mind and working to improve each step of the operation really lets us not only become more efficient with our time and protocols, but allows us to enjoy our families and life outside the farm, which sometimes gets overlooked,” says Kurt Van Osch.
Continuing to improve their management, a new 4,000 head barn was completed in 2021, adding best processing practices and animal welfare standards.
The cousins share that viewing the farm as a business, and not being stuck on certain traditions, has set them up to find ways to diversify and add different revenue streams.
“We contract most of our beef, but had locals in the area asking if we had cuts for sale. It took a lot of talking logistics, and we were lucky enough to partner with Parkhill Meats, who needed a steady supply of beef – and we needed a processing option,” explains Brendon. “Worked out very well, in that we are able to support each other, and supply the demand that has come about.”
They share a goal to build a brand based on their family story, integrity for the environment, and meat quality. On the crop-production side, the Middlesex County farmers rotate corn, soybeans and winter wheat, with some
edible beans and various cover crops to foster soil fertility.
“We run about 99% John Deere equipment, and that’s mainly due to the quality of service we get from our local dealership,” says Kurt. “Windows to be in the field are so tight, we need to ensure that parts and repairs are done as quickly as possible so we can capture the hours available. “We also enjoy the technology that they provide, allowing our agronomist to upload variable rate prescriptions at anytime, and to also see the harvest data as it comes in. Really keeps everyone in the loop.”
Brendon explains that “when you get yourself out of being a slave to the commodity markets, and add layers to the business that keep production at a premium level, you’ll
likely find that learning new techniques is something you look forward to.”