Don't Bother Waiting: These Cows Aren't Coming Home

Stalls that once housed more than 3,000 cows stand empty following the closing of Abacherli ...

Stalls that once housed more than 3,000 cows stand empty following the closing of Abacherli Dairy at Briggs Road and Old Newport Road in Menifee.
If you live on the east side of Menifee, you may have noticed that the flies aren't quite as bad this summer. Neither is the smell of cow pastures on the early morning breeze.

Take a drive down Briggs Road to Old Newport Road and you'll see why. The cows are gone -- and they're not coming back.

Abacherli Dairy, a fixture in Menifee since 1981, has shut its big iron gates. The stalls where more than 3,000 head of cattle once stood are now empty. Some farm equipment remains, and huge white bags holding feed (right) can still be seen along Briggs Road. Some family members still live on the property.

But since the middle of June, when all the livestock was sold at auction, the Abacherli (pronounced a-BOCK-er-lee) family has officially been out of the dairy business. According to Kim Abacherli, her father Ron decided to retire, putting an end to a business that has been in the Swiss family for four generations.

Arnold Abacherli first got the family into the dairy business around 1917, Kim Abacherli said. The family business was based in Chino and later Anaheim before Arnold's son Frank and his wife Shirley (at left) relocated their home and the dairy to Menifee in 1981. Frank died in 2013 but his wife still lives on the property. Ron, one of five children, has run the dairy in recent years with help from family members, including Kim.

"My dad had two daughters, no sons," Kim Abacherli said. "There are no boys coming up in the next generation. I've been working here for two years and I can't handle any of this any more. My sister is less interested in the business than I am.

"The market is up this year and my dad just decided it was the right time to sell and retire. It was just really good timing, especially with those houses coming in."

Kim gestured toward a housing development a few hundred yards to the west, where construction has begun on an extension of The Lakes community. A mix of young families and thousands of cows in close proximity is a possibility perhaps better left on the drawing board. According to Kim, her grandmother has no plans to sell the 80-acre farm any time soon, however.

"At some point they'll sell, but my grandmother owns the land and she's still living here," Kim said. "She wants to keep things."

Kim remembers living on the farm as a toddler, when "there wasn't anything out here." Now, housing developments are creeping ever closer to the property. With the closing of the Abacherli Dairy and the Boere Dairy across the street last year, the closest dairy farms to Menifee are located in San Jacinto.

The Abacherli family still farms 800 acres on the east side of Briggs Road, however. Alfalfa, sorghum and rye grass are grown there, stored in the white bags across the street and sold to dairy farmers as feed for the cows.

In the June auction, Abacherli Dairy sold 1,500 milking cows and 1,500 replacement Heifers, plus farm equipment. It truly marked the end of an era in Menifee, but the vacant stalls at Abacherli Dairy serve as a reminder of a huge part of the community's past.

Just a few months ago, visitors could enter the Abacherli Dairy gate on Briggs Road and walk right up to the milking cows in their stalls.

Today, those same stalls sit empty, all the cattle having been sold at auction.




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