September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
Buena Vista county
How did you get into farming? Our dad moved to this area from southern Iowa in 1949. He and our mom purchased this farm in 1964, and began milking a dozen mixed breed cows in a stanchion barn. The dairy grew as our family grew, incorporating ideas my dad gleaned from traveling the state as an ABS representative. We built a double-4 herringbone parlor in 1975. We expanded it to a double-7 in 2005 and added automatic takeoffs. We both attended Iowa State University and decided to come home and join the operation after we graduated. We were in a four-way partnership with our brothers, Dan and Mark, until 1998, at which time Dan decided to get into the seed business and Mark opened a woodworking shop.
What are your thoughts and concerns about the dairy industry for the next year? It will be nice to have a new administration come in with some new proposals. The economics are such that there may be some dairies leaving the business, so we have to learn to be more efficient. We currently have more heifers than we need thanks to the crossbreeding program we started in 2000 that involves using Montbéliarde, Swedish Red and Holstein sires.
What do you enjoy most about dairy farming? We like the independence of it. Matt recently went to Ireland with his family to tour historic sites. Dave has been able to travel overseas with farm groups to observe agricultural practices in other countries.
What is the best advice you have ever received? Dad always believed in mating the best cow with the best bull, and that advice still holds true today. The hybrid vigor we get from our crossbreeding program is a plus.
What has been the best purchase you've ever made on your farm? Our silage bagger. We started bagging in 1981, and it didn't take long for us to realize that we needed to have our own bagger. Owning a bagger has given us options, such as buying wet gluten when it's cheap.
What has been your biggest accomplishment while dairy farming? How did you achieve this? The standard of living we have enjoyed. When our brothers left the operation, we were able to find good employees to take their places. It's also nice to know we are providing employment for people in our community.
What are your plans for your dairy in the next five years? None of our children are interested in farming, so we hope to find a young person who would be interested in working here with an eye toward eventually becoming part of the operation.
What is your favorite thing to do on the farm? We spend a lot of time researching the sires we are going to use. It's fun to see the results when a new heifer joins the milk herd.
How do you like to spend your time when you are not doing chores? We like to give back to the community by hosting farm tours for local schoolchildren. We have also hosted tours for kids from overseas, such as last summer when we hosted a group from Japan. When the weather is fit, we also like to go golfing.
What is your favorite technology? Our computer and our cell phones. We would be lost without our smart phones. Our computer helps us keep track of everything on the farm and brings in new information from the outside world.
Tell us about a skill you possess that makes dairy farming easier for you. Matt does the A.I. work to implement our reproductive program. He first learned how to do A.I. when he was 16 years old.
If you could have a celebrity help you with chores for a day who would it be? Donald Trump. It would be good for him to see how things work on a dairy and to experience the culture of the farming community.
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