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My Kentucky Roads: Chaney’s Dairy Barn

chaneys01 300WESTERN KENTUCKY (12/10/13) – Chaney’s Dairy Barn has been a family farm since 1888 and a dairy farm since 1940 when James Chaney Sr. purchased his first Jersey cows.

Althea and Topsy became the farm's most prized Chaney cows earning James Chaney Sr. recognition as a Master Breeder at the Annual Meeting of the American Jersey Cattle Association in June of 2003.

“This farm has been in our family since 1888,” said Carl Chaney, owner of Chaney’s Dairy Barn. “With our grandkids now, it will be six generations and we have been very fortunate. The Chaney family has been milking cows for 70 years now.”

With the lowering of milk prices, the Chaney Family began to look for other ways of making a profit without having to sacrifice the legacy of their dairy farm.

In 2001, the family decided to reduce their stock through a two-day internet sale, where they sold everything but 60 cows.

“We did really well on the internet sale, we sold 40 and kept 60,” said Chaney. “It took away a lot of expenses but it also took a lot of profit from us, too. Debra, my wife, and I knew some people, who knew how to process their own milk. So, we took a few trips to see what they were doing, how they were doing it, to basically get an idea.”

The Chaney’s ventured to different places from Massachusetts, North Carolina, Alabama to Ohio and that’s when they noticed at each dairy farm, they were all making their own ice cream.

“The last place we visited was Young’s Jersey Dairy in Yellow Springs, Ohio,” said Chaney. “We were really intrigued to what they had to offer.”

While the Chaney family was there, they discovered that the ingredients that they used to process the ice cream didn’t all come from their cow supply but a mix.

“They were selling over a million dollars in ice cream there,” said Chaney. “We were headed back home, we thought, ‘Hey, we can do this, too.’ So that’s kind of where we started.”

For two years, the Chaney’s researched different dairy industries and came to also discover that successful dairy farms were selling homemade ice cream along with processing their own milk. The family also researched their demographics and competition to make their business plan a more successful idea.

Then in 2003, Carl set out on a 10-day ice cream course and a four-day retail seminar at Penn State University; their plans were beginning to take motion.

“It was a very interesting course,” said Chaney. “ I felt like that we could make ice cream just as good as anybody else. So, we put together a business plan and went to the bank.”

After being approved from the bank to get their business started, in June of 2003, building began.

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“It took about three months to build,” said Chaney. “We wanted to open it earlier but things move at a snail's pace. Once we got it built we opened the doors at the end of September of 2003.”
 
The Chaney’s decided to have a soft opening and not advertise. They told their church family and the people who lived up and down the road from them to come out for free ice cream.

“We had no idea what we were doing, still don’t, but the turnout was amazing,” said Chaney. “Ten years later, we are still in business.”

During the Chaney’s first year of selling ice cream, they sold 4,000 gallons. Now, after 10 years of experience, just this year alone, they have sold between 18 to 19 thousand gallons of ice cream and steadily going.

All of Chaney’s ice cream is made in house along with homemade sandwiches, soups and ice cream pies. Chaney’s also offers a wide variety of specifically selected crafts and foods made by Kentucky artists and companies. Throughout the year, Chaney’s provides different projects and events for the community such as live musical performances, fundraising events, breakfast with Santa, Kentucky Proud Day in May, the annual June Barnfest, and school or group tours during the warmer seasons.

“We always knew when we started this that we would have a dairy farm tour,” said Chaney. “There is such a disconnect between the consumer and farms today. During our tours, we talk about agriculture and how to milk cows.”

Carl also said that their first year of giving tours, they had 3,500 kids show up. This year, they estimated about 8,000 kids.

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The Chaney family is currently in works for a full processing facility on the farm.

“In February of 2011, we started selling our milk to local stores in plastic,” said Chaney. “On Dec. 12, we will be selling our stuff to the three local Kroger stores, which will open a really nice market for us. We have been working really hard the last few years to perfect what we are trying to offer. It has been a really long learning curve.”

Chaney’s offers a variety of flavors along with seasonal and signature flavors.

“We usually have 32 flavors out at all times,” said Chaney. “When we first started we had no idea what to serve. But we got really lucky to be able to work with someone who knew what to do.”

Chaney’s Dairy Barn has been named the No. 1 ice cream in Kentucky by USA Today, The USA’s Best Ice Cream: Top Parlors in 50 States, and was featured in the television show “Justified.”

Chaney’s Dairy Barn is located on 9191 Nashville Road, Bowling Green , Ky.

For more information about Chaney’s Dairy Farm call (270) 843-5567 or visit http://www.chaneysdairybarn.com/ or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/chaneysdairybarn.
 
Amber Averitt
SurfKY News
Photos by Amber Averitt

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