When Jon Slutsky’s dairy farm in Wellington, Colorado is fully staffed, it’s a moment to celebrate. A full roster of employees at Slutsky’s La Luna Dairy is rare these days.
“We’re doing really well with our employee base,” Slutsky said. “A year ago, we couldn’t say that. We were short.”
With the farm’s 1,500 cows waiting to be milked, Slutsky and his wife Susan Moore felt panicked, worried they didn’t have enough hands on deck to milk about 200 cows per hour.
“That’s what pays the bills for a place like this is milk sales,” Slutsky said. “We were short 5 milkers out of 11.”
The couple moved to Colorado’s Front Range from California to start the dairy decades ago, when Slutsky and Moore themselves milked the animals in an antique shed. But over the years, as the business has grown, La Luna’s workforce has become increasingly homogenous, made up of young Latino men, often from Mexico or Central America, who get their start on the farm attaching milking machines to udders.