Ahlem Farms Partnership is a Registered Jersey dairy in the heart of cheese country -- Hilmar, CA.
The family farm is owned by Bill and Carolyn Ahlem and Sabino Ahlem-Herrera, DVM, and operated on three dairies in the central part of the state.
Nutrient-dense milk from the herd is shipped to the Hilmar Cheese Company, where it is made into natural American cheese and other dairy products.
Bill and Carolyn Ahlem are founding members of the company, which is now the largest single-site cheese plant in the world. Hilmar Cheese recently expanded its business by opening another cheese-making plant in Dalhart, TX.
A Brief History
Bill Ahlem's dairy career began in 1966 after he graduated from Oregon State University. He joined his father, William Sr., on one of the family's two dairies, where he milked 100 cows. Within a year, he was running the second dairy of 100 cows. In 1972, he and his brother, Chuck, established a farm and dairy partnership. Six years later, their brother, Jim, joined the partnership to form Ahlem Enterprises.
The partnership was later split into three independent businesses that are still in operation today.
In the late 1970s, Bill and Carolyn hired the late Ed Fisher, a recently-retired vocational agriculture teacher at Hilmar High School, to improve herd genetics. He brought thoughtful sire selection, matings and an exceptional record-keeping system to the dairy.
As well, the mostly-unregistered herd was enrolled in the AJCA Genetic Recovery Program and is now 100% registered.
Ahlem Farms Partnership hosted the first million dollar sale in Jersey history in 2007. Pictured with Jersey Marketing Services staff are Mr. Fisher, left, and Sabino Ahlem Herrera and Bill Ahlem, back.
Sabino Ahlem-Herrera joined the partnership in 2002 after he graduated from the University of California-Davis. As a veterinarian, his expertise in daily management of herd health and nutrition has enabled the herd to make consistent gains in production. Over the past decade, actual milk production of the herd has improved more than 3,000 lbs.
The Jersey Herd
Ahlem Farms Partnership is a fully-registered herd and enrolled on the American Jersey Cattle Association's REAP program. Ahlem Farms Partnership is a founding member of Jerseyland Sires and uses JerseyMate in the herd mating program.
Calves are raised at Vlot Brothers Ranch in Chowchilla until they are four months old.
Registered Jerseys bred by Ahlem Farms Partnership have been purchased by breeders across the country, privately and through leading Jersey sales such as the National Heifer Sale, The All American Jersey Sale and the Pot O'Gold Sale.
The dairy has also hosted three production sales in recent years. The most recent sale, held in April 2012, auctioned 333 lots from the heart of the herd for an average of $1,888.74 and gross receipts of $628,950.
Ahlem Farms has bred two winners of the Pot O'Gold Production Contest. Ahlem Jace Charm 15069-ET, owned by Kaila Wussow, Cecil, WI, topped the contest in 2008. Ahlem MBSB Lilac 7107-ET, owned by Andrew M. Bok, Defiance, OH, won the competition in 2001.
The Ahlems influence the breed as well through Ahlem-bred Registered Jersey sires. Included in this group is Ahlem Lemvig Abe-ET, who has sired more than 9,700 daughters to date.
In 2009, Ahlem Farms Partnership and Ed Fisher were recognized for their contributions to the breed with one of the AJCA's most prestigious recognitions, the Master Breeder Award. In 2015, the dairy received National Dairy Shrine's Distinguished Dairy Cattle Breeder award.
The Ahlem Family
The Ahlems are active off the farm as well. Bill was appointed to the National Dairy Board in 1999 and has also sat on the boards of Dairy Management Inc., Western United Dairymen, the California and American Farm Bureau Federations, Hilmar United School District and Benevolent Ministries of the Evangelical Covenant Church.
Ahlem Farms Partnership owners from left: Roger and Teresa Herrera; Carolyn
and Bill Ahlem; and Lindsay and Sabino Herrera-Ahlem.