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

Vet stop gets heart going for Manderfelds

Passion for dairy continues in 16-year marriage
Anne and Bernie Manderfeld talk during one evening milking. The couple met when Anne, who is a veterinarian, stopped for a call at the farm in 1993. They now milk 105 cows on their farm in Steele County near Faribault, Minn. <br /><!-- 1upcrlf -->PHOTO BY KRISTA SHEEHAN
Anne and Bernie Manderfeld talk during one evening milking. The couple met when Anne, who is a veterinarian, stopped for a call at the farm in 1993. They now milk 105 cows on their farm in Steele County near Faribault, Minn. <br /><!-- 1upcrlf -->PHOTO BY KRISTA SHEEHAN

By By Krista M. Sheehan- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

FARIBAULT, Minn. - Anne Manderfeld has felt pressure as a veterinarian, but she remembers one surgery in particular - one of the first times she met her husband, Bernie.
"I was doing a DA surgery on his best show cow. She went down because she reacted to [pain medication] ... I thought I nearly killed her. I kept thinking, 'I just killed this cute guy's show cow,'" said Anne, who is also known as Dr. Deppe.
The cow turned out to be fine, and developed into a good cow for the herd; however, it wasn't the only development from the day. From one veterinary visit, Anne and Bernie's relationship developed into a life-long commitment to one another. The couple, along with their two children, Amelia (13) and Anthony (11), milks 106 cows on their farm in Steele County near Faribault, Minn. Bernie's brother, Byron, is also a partner in the farm.
In 1991, Bernie returned to his home farm after going to college at the University of Minnesota-Waseca for animal science and working on a dairy farm in Australia for one year. At that time, Bernie, the third generation in his family to dairy farm on the site, focused on expanding the herd from 25 cows to 50 cows.
Anne, originally from Dubuque, Iowa, went to college to become a vet and graduated in 1991.
"I wasn't exposed to too much dairy growing up, but I was always interested in it," she said. "I always wanted to marry a farmer."
After working in two different areas in Iowa, she moved to the Faribault area to work at the Faribault Vet Clinic in 1993. It was a perfect fit since they hired her to focus on swine, but to help with cows when needed.
Anne was only called to the Manderfeld farm when the family's regular vet was unavailable, so she only had a few meetings with Bernie; however, it only took a few meetings to spark her interest. That winter, Anne's vet clinic was having a dinner.
"I had to get the large animal techs to invite the producers, too," said Anne about her idea to meet Bernie off the farm.
The idea worked and Bernie attended the event. After dinner, a group of people, including Anne and Bernie, went to the local VFW where a band was playing.
"It was the first place not on the farm where we interacted. We spent all evening talking and dancing," Anne said.
Shortly after, they started dating.
"A lot of our dates were cow related or we would hang out with friends," Bernie said.
"I came out here [to the farm] a lot of the evenings," Anne said.
Larger dates were also dairy related. They included trips to the Minnesota State Fair and World Dairy Expo to show cows.
"We had a lot of fun showing cows and getting to know other breeders," Anne said about going to the shows.
Bernie said he was attracted to Anne because she was easy to talk to and had an interest in dairy. Anne said she liked Bernie's sense of humor, that he was family oriented and that he showed compassion for his cows.
"I was good with my cows so I had to be a good guy, right?" Bernie said.
She also liked that he had Milking Shorthorns.
"He didn't go with the norm because he had a different breed of cows," Anne said.
The majority of their 106-cow herd is Milking Shorthorns, with a few Holsteins and crossbreds.
"They're docile and as far as herd health, they do well," Bernie said about why he likes the Milking Shorthorn breed. " They have good conception rates and calving ease. We've had nearly zero death loss on the calves ... they're low maintenance."
The dairy connection worked for the two, who were engaged then married in April 1996. Cows also inspired the wedding décor, with Anne donning cowboy boots under her dress and Mary Moos of a bride and groom as the cake topper. Before the reception, they also took pictures in the barn with the cows and cats.
Even their honeymoon had a dairy theme. The following January, the couple traveled to Australia and New Zealand with a group of dairy producers for the International Dairy Week.
Dairy farming continues to be a big part of their life. Over the years, they have gradually upgraded the farm facilities while Anne worked off the farm as a vet. After the two were married, Anne worked full-time, then slowed to three-fourths. Now, Anne does calf chores on the farm and works as a relief small animal vet about 100 days each year.
The farm has also seen changes. It went from cows being milked in two stanchion/tiestall barns, to one building on one site. Five years ago, the Manderfelds built a freestall barn and converted one tiestall barn into a stepup parlor with two 12-inch steps. In 2009, they also started milking the high group of cows three times a day.
"We could get more milk when the prices were low and we were looking for more ways to be efficient," Bernie said.
There has been enough positive response from the cows with a lower somatic cell count and higher production that the Manderfelds decided to stay with it.
After 16 years of marriage, the Manderfelds still enjoy the cows and how they keep everyone connected.
"It's nice having family around [the farm] so we can spend more time together," Bernie said. "The kids are starting to get more involved."
It all started from a relationship that developed when a vet stepped into the barn of a young single dairy farmer and almost killed his best show cow.
"She was more scared than I was about it," Bernie said.
Everything turned out for the best - the cow and the relationship.
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