September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.

MOOving day

Jeurissen relocates dairy to Lester Prairie
The whole Jeurissen family was on hand for the first milking on Nov. 5. They include Rick and Mindy and their children Genevieve (14), Grace (8), Samuel (5) and Rick’s dad, Bernard. (photo by Mark Klaphake)
The whole Jeurissen family was on hand for the first milking on Nov. 5. They include Rick and Mindy and their children Genevieve (14), Grace (8), Samuel (5) and Rick’s dad, Bernard. (photo by Mark Klaphake)

By By Jennifer Burggraff- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

LESTER PRAIRIE, Minn. - On Nov. 5, Rick Jeurissen did some things that most dairy producers will never do in their lifetime. With the help of family, neighbors and friends, Jeurissen moved his 54-cow milking herd and his heifers 37 miles - from Shakopee to Lester Prairie, Minn. - to a new farmsite.

Relocating for the future

After farming in a partnership with his father, Bernard, for several years on Bernard's dairy in Shakopee, Jeurissen felt there was no long-term dairying future there.

"In order to continue dairying there (in Shakopee) - due to location, land prices, encroachment of development - there was no way I would live out my occupation in farming there," Jeurissen said of why he moved. "[In Lester Prairie] I had a good opportunity to set up a dairy for the future."

He began looking at relocating and found an old farmsite near Lester Prairie two years ago. He purchased the site along with 400 acres of land on Dec. 31, 2008.

Because the old dairy barn was no longer suitable for milking, Jeurissen's first move after purchasing the site was to build a freestall and parlor facility for his herd of cows. In Shakopee, Jeurissen had milked in a tiestall barn but felt that for the health of his cows and his family, a freestall barn and parlor would be a better option.

"What prompted building a parlor was the ease of workload. It shouldn't be as hard on me and my wife (Mindy) and whoever is helping us milk. In a tiestall barn, when you have to squat between the cows you get dirty; it's just plain and simple bull work," Jeurissen said of his building decisions. "The costs are also lower in a freestall than a tiestall barn."

On Nov. 5, the 180-cow freestall barn and double-12 parallel parlor were ready for use.

The move of a lifetime

Nov. 5, 2009, was one of the biggest days of Jeurissen's life. That was the day his cows and heifers were transported 37 miles to his new facility.

The day began as usual on the Jeurissen farm in Shakopee, with morning milking. As soon as that was finished, however, the day became a rush of cows, trailers and people.

"We started moving cattle at 8 a.m.," Jeurissen said. "We completed morning milking, prepared for moving and started moving at 8 a.m."

In planning for the big day, Jeurissen had contacted several friends and neighbors with trailers in hopes of getting together a fleet to hasten the process. Rallying volunteers was a piece of cake.

"A lot of people hadn't seen the new facility. It was an exciting thing for everybody to be a part of it," Jeurissen said of everyone's eagerness to help. "... I really appreciated everybody's participation."

As soon as the six trailers were loaded with cattle, they took off down the road. When they arrived at the new facility, Jeurissen's group of volunteers - a total of 12 including his wife, Mindy, and children Genevieve (14), Grace (8) and Samuel (5) - set about spreading bedding in the freestall barn while Jeurissen himself finished some odds and ends with the facilities.

"With the crew of workers, it was a relief to know I could trust everybody with handling the animals while I had other things to attend to - the milking system, the electric work, fine-tuning all the equipment," Jeurissen said. "All the people (volunteers) were dairy farmers themselves, so they knew what to do."

Jeurissen estimated it would take approximately four hours total to transport all 54 cows plus the heifers. Each of the six trailers made at least two trips back and fourth - with a couple making three trips - and the last loads pulled in to the new facility around 2 p.m.

"The cows took to the freestalls very well," Jeurissen said of their adjustment to the freestall barn. "They instantly looked comfortable. They were curious and very nosey; they adapted quickly."

With the cows accounted for, Jeurissen's next task was to prepare for the first milking in the parlor. Because he had no prior experience with parlors, he "had to learn the system," he said. To coach Jeurissen through not only the first milking, but the second milking as well were Charlie Storm of Storm's Welding and Manufacturing and Paul Becker of Lange Dairy and Electric.

Storm, who had been involved in much of the planning, designing and construction of the facility, arrived at the Jeurissen farm at 5 a.m. on Nov. 5 to finish some last minute changes and adjustments. When it came time to milk, he and one co-worker were there to help push cows through the parlor and ensure that everything was working properly.

"Usually whenever we sell this type of equipment, we make sure we're there to help," Storm said of being there for the first milking. "It was a pretty long day, but I knew that day was the key that had to be turned. There was no hauling cows back."

Three representatives were there from Lange Dairy and Electric. For the first milkings, Becker was in the parlor "making sure the cows got milked," he said.

"There were enough people pushing cows," Becker said. "I was [in the parlor] to make sure the milking equipment was working properly."

The first milking began at 4 p.m. To ensure that it would go well, "I said a prayer," Jeurissen said.

The prayer did not go unheard and milking was completed around 5:30 p.m.

"Both [the first and the second] milkings went awesome," Storm said.

Since that first day, the cows and the Jeurissen family have been slowly adapting to the new facilities. Two days after the initial move, the Jeurissens doubled their herd size, buying a herd from a neighbor and bringing their milking-herd numbers up to 110. With the double-12 parlor, they are able to finish milking in about two hours, though Jeurissen said he hopes to bring that time down to less than one and one-half hours.

"The facilities may seem like an overkill, but our goal is to get chores done quickly and smoothly so we have time for our family and friends," he said.

With moving day behind them, they are well on their way.[[In-content Ad]]


You must login to comment.

Top Stories

Today's Edition



27 28 29 30 31 1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30

To Submit an Event Sign in first

Today's Events

sep 23, 2023 @ 9:00am