September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
Jerry and his wife, Deb, recently opened the doors for their ambitious sons, Jason and Chris, to take over the operation.
"I wanted the farm to continue. I knew I wasn't going to be here forever. I figured one of them would but wasn't really sure both of them would at once. So it was ideal. Fifth generation, century farm at 137 years I couldn't have asked for anything more," Jerry said.
Chris and Jason bought the 27 cows and machinery Aug. 1, 2012, fulfilling Chris's dream to milk cows.
"I can't see myself doing anything else," Chris said. "I love being around the cows and doing fieldwork."
Chris (25) attended Ridgewater College after high school and planned to come back, but his return was propelled when Jerry hurt his back during his second year of college. During that time Chris would sandwich school between morning and night milking. He started helping full-time in the spring of 2010.
"I think that was my sign to get out," Jerry said. "It worked out good. Then Jason moved down here and we had to find a new place to live."
Jason's (30) arrival came after he worked construction, did cement work and was employed at a dairy near Pierz. All along though, his goal was to get back home.
"I was always planning on coming back. I missed farming. I learned a lot in construction, and I've been able to help with all the concrete I've poured around here," he said. "I learned a lot working at the other dairy, too."
With the return of Jason and Chris, the landscape of the farm has been changing.
First, the boys each purchased cows and heifers and the herd grew to 60 cows then to 110 cows, which is their current total.
Next was adapting the milking facility. The tiestall barn Jerry used for his career had a max capacity of 27 cows.
They tore out half the stalls on one side of the barn and put in headlocks. They use the existing stalls on the other side and now milk with 10 units in what could be called a Schutz modified flat parlor. The brothers credit their dad on teaching them to be handy and resourceful as much as possible. They spent $1,000 on changing over the tiestall barn into the parlor.
"Reuse everything. Redo the barn to get us by," Chris said.
Jason added, "It would be nice to have everything new but it's not practical. We have guys that come and say, 'I can't believe you guys milk all the cows that you have with the set up you have.' But it's working for us."
They can milk 110 cows in 2.5 hours.
The brothers have also had to be resourceful for housing their cows. They took two sheds that Jerry used for steers and heifers and transformed it into a freestall barn with sand bedding.
"We did all the stalls ourselves. Would've been nice to have someone else do it because it drug out for a long time but we saved a lot of money even though it took a month longer," Jason said.
The herd is split into three groups: heifers, mature cows and cows further out in their lactation. Eighty of the cows are in freestalls bedded with sand and the cows further out in their lactation are outside on a bed pack.
"When a heifer comes fresh, I'll take the next one in line to dry off and put her on the bed pack," Jason said.
The Schutzs' next step in housing is to build a 62' x 124', 54-stall sand bedded freestall barn this summer. The new barn will be built where the bed pack currently is. The Schutzs' will keep using all the other sheds. One shed with 25 stalls will house dry cows since they are currently outside.
The brothers divvy up the farm's tasks, but do every milking together. There cows are currently averaging 77 pounds a day with a 4.0 butterfat and 3.2 protein. Chris does all of the breeding. Jason does the feeding and treats cows. Jerry scrapes the pens and moves the cows for milking. Jason's wife, Jenny, feed calves and does bookwork.
Jerry still enjoys helping on the farm.
"I still would miss the farm if I wasn't here everyday," he said. "I still have things to do but I'm not completely tied down here."
Jerry owns the 120 acres included in the farm and pays for raising the crops. Chris and Jason own the cattle and machinery and then pay Jerry per acre for the land to rent.
"We set it up last year where we pay him rent and an additional percent over to cover his cost for the seed and spray," Jason said.
Another change Jason and Chris have made is adding a pasteurizer.
"It's the best the money we've ever spent," Jason said. "You always have treated milk that you throw away, you might as well utilize it."
To maximize the 120 acres that Jerry owns, the Schutzs' have done double-cropping that includes winter and spring triticale, BMR sorghum sudan, and corn.
Jason and Chris have also started three-way crossbreeding with Holstein, Swedish Red and Montbeliardes for longevity in the herd. The Schutzs' have already seen their Swedish Reds come fresh.
With all of these changes, Jerry has adjusted and realizes that it is a part of allowing the next generation to take over the family farm. One of his concerns has been the amount of changes in a small period of time.
"When you're changing this and adding and spending a certain amount of money, if you have three or four months of low milk prices you aren't going to get caught up again," Jerry said. "That was my biggest concern. Change has been different for me but it's been working good. When I took over from my dad, I was doing things different from how he was doing them. I've taken some buildings down and built new ones so I knew there was going to be change."
Jerry is pleased with how his sons are planning ahead.
"When I do something, I look down the road. Is this going to work five, 10, 15 years down the road or should we do something else?" Jason said. "I don't want to spend the money now that 15 years down the road won't work for us anymore."
After building the freestall barn this summer, the Schutzs' next goal is to someday build a new parlor.
But for now, Jason and Chris are enjoying the start to the fifth generation of Schutzs' on their family farm.
"I enjoy being around the cows," Jason said. "I like watching them start out as little calves hoping that little calf is going to be our next best cow."
And Jerry has been happy to see the farm live on.
"I grew up here and it means a lot [to have the farm continue]," Jerry said. "Just to keep it running and make sure every generation is a little bit better as far the buildings and keeping up the land."
To Submit an Event Sign in first
No calendar events have been scheduled for today.