Schroer Dairy, Jim Shroer and Tray Robinson

Nearly 80 years strong

Since 1937, the Schroer family has owned and operated Schroer Dairy in Chico, California. Almost eight decades later, what started off as a small operation with 12 Jersey calves, now includes 350 Holsteins, Brown Swiss and Jersey cattle. Current owner, Jim Schroer, says Schroer Dairy is part of the Land O’lakes co-op and the majority of the milk produced at his dairy is shipped to Wisconsin, where it’s turned into cheese for Cheetos, cheese nips and the like, then shipped around the nation, including back to California.

Feeding the farm

Farmers are all stewards of the land. Period.
We are very aware of what we put into our land;
we are going to take care of it.
— Jim Schroer

One cow eats 17 pounds of alfalfa hay, 16 pounds of grain, 25 pounds of corn silage and drinks 30 gallons of water on average a day, so Jim must stretch resources to produce enough food and supply enough water to keep his cattle healthy and thriving. Jim grows half of the feed for his cattle on the farm, including winter forage and corn silage. In the cornfields, Schroer Dairy uses poly-pipes, or flexible pipes, which allow for controlled on-farm irrigation that helps apply water efficiently and avoids water loss.

Additionally, with the help of a lagoon on the Schroer farm, Jim is able to recycle wastewater from his cattle and use it to irrigate the corn. Water that’s used to wash cattle in the sprinkler pens drains into the lagoon and then is used to irrigate the corn.  Additionally, during the winter months when the manure solids become more of a liquid form, the manure is flushed into the lagoon and mixed with the water.  This nutrient water, when used to irrigate, helps corn thrive.

From City to Farm

Jim says he has a real passion for his work and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Part of this passion is fueled by educating the public about farming and helping them appreciate the work that goes into growing food and raising animals. While Jim was raised on the farm, his husband Tray grew up in Compton, California, and his only knowledge of farming came from what he saw on television. Now, after 21 years of being with Jim and over two years of living on Schroer Dairy, Tray says that farmers are the hardest working people he knows and that farm life has allowed him to develop a deeper appreciation for food and milk.

Sometimes the consumer is so far removed from the process, they lose track of what’s going on. Moving on the farm with Jim was life changing. You develop a deeper appreciation for food and milk.
— Tray Robinson

In addition to educating Californians about farming, Jim and Tray are also actively involved in the Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) community, working to combat stereotypes and embrace diversity in the agricultural industry. Both Tray and Jim will be active participants this June at a summit called Cultivating Change, which brings together over 200 LGBTQ agriculturists and allies for a professional development conference.