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

Rosenhammers are good farm neighbors

Sleepy Eye family earns award from Minnesota Department of Agriculture
(photo by Jennifer Burggraff)
(photo by Jennifer Burggraff)

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

SLEEPY EYE, Minn. - To the Rosenhammer family, being dairy producers means more than milking cows twice a day and keeping their animals fed. It means striving to provide the best possible care for their herd - from newborns to production-age cows, caring for the environment and educating others on the industry they love.
For all of these reasons, the Rosenhammers were chosen as the recipient of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture's Good Farm Neighbor Award for February 2010.
"We were very surprised and appreciative," John Rosenhammer said of the recognition. "The neatest thing has been the positive response we've gotten [from people we know]. Bishop John LeVior of the New Ulm Diocese even recognized our name."
John, his wife, Patty, their five children - Joe (20), Laura (18), Mary (14), Rebecca (12) and Johnny (11) - and his brother, Greg, operate Roseview Dairy near Sleepy Eye, Minn. John, Patty and Greg took over the dairy from John and Greg's parents, Dennis and Mildred, in 1998, becoming the third generation of Rosenhammers on the farm.
The Rosenhammer brothers credit much of their dairying success to the philosophies their parents - who continue to play an integral role in the everyday operation of the farm - instilled in them while they were growing up.
"Dad always said to be efficient, so that's what we try to do," John said. "It's a good feeling knowing that all the efforts Mom and Dad started here in keeping up the farm rubbed off on us."
Some of those philosophies included providing quality care for their animals and being responsible stewards of the land.
"We strive for quality," Greg said, whether that be in the milk produced by their cattle or the crops produced on their 500 acres of land.
"Quality is more important than quantity," John said.
They also focus on cow comfort, Laura said. Their 180-cow milking herd is housed in a freestall barn the Rosenhammers built eight years ago. Each stall is equipped with a mat and bedded with chopped straw. A separate bedded pack pen serves as an area for special needs cows.
Until one year ago, the Rosenhammers were milking their herd twice a day in a tiestall barn, using it as a flat parlor and switching each group of cows in and out. Now, they milk in a double-12 vertical lift Surge parlor with a basement. Not only has the switch to a parlor facility been beneficial for the cows, it has made life easier on the family as well.
"After the first six months in [the parlor], it's just a better way of life," Greg said.
The Rosenhammer family raises their replacement heifers on site. The calves start out in individual pens in a calf shed; by four months of age they are moved into group pens with freestalls.
"I always say that a calf is born perfect but the environment will screw them up somewhere along the way," John said.
For that reason, calf care is a No. 1 priority on Roseview Dairy.
The entire Rosenhammer family takes part in the daily operations of their farm. John and Mildred are the main milkers while Dennis helps with odds and ends around the farm and is the power washing specialist, John said.
Greg handles the feeding and mixing the rations. Mary works full-time off the farm but helps out when needed. Joe serves as the farm mechanic; Laura does the classifying and registering as well as helping with milking; Mary and Rebecca are the designated calf feeders, and Johnny feeds the family pets, including horses, goats, chickens, ducks, pigs and dogs.
"The kids don't have video games, they have pets," John said. "It's more of an experience for them."
"I believe in a family operation," Dennis said. "I think it can be done with a little common sense."
The entire family is also involved in promoting the industry they love through community involvement and educating the general public every chance they get. One way they do this is through their involvement in 4-H. John and Patty are leaders in their club and all of the kids show animals, including dairy cows. They are also involved in their church and various industry organizations. All of the kids are in FFA, sports and judging teams, and Laura is currently serving as a Brown County Dairy Princess.
"Promotion is so important," Patty said. "Kids don't have exposure to the farm anymore. They need to know where their food comes from and how it is produced."
To help bridge the gap between the farm and table, the Rosenhammers have opened their farm to tours.
"We are trying to get a group of nuns out here in May," Laura said. "We try to get people out here to see our farm and experience our lifestyle."
"The kids have friends out here often, so it's not unusual for people to be here and see what's going on," Patty said.
Because they are in the public eye and trying to promote dairy in a positive light, the Rosenhammers take great pride in the appearance of their farm.
"If people come out to a messy place, they won't want to drink milk," Greg said.
"As a dairy princess, I've seen the public's image [of the dairy industry]," Laura said. "This has helped motivate me to keep our farm neat and appealing."
All of this ties in to what the Rosenhammers believe being a good farm neighbor means.
"It means that we are trying to do the best we can at being stewards of the land and our animals, trying to be good neighbors to our neighbors, trying to raise a good family and always looking at the dairy industry in a positive light," John said.
Having good neighbors and living in a community that is receptive to the dairy industry has helped, Laura said. Having the support of an entire family has also helped.
"You have to be dedicated. If you're not, you won't make it," Dennis said of dairying. "If you take care of the cows, they'll take care of you."[[In-content Ad]]


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