July 12, 2021 at 1:32 p.m.

Dairy Profile: Jan and Jim Pfeifer

Jan and Jim Pfeifer
Owatonna, Minnesota
Steele County
50 cows

How did you get into farming? Jim: I started dairy farming when I was 14 years old. My family had a herd of dairy cows; however, my dad also had a meat locker, my brother went into the army, and my sister went to college. So that left me to do the chores. I did chores every day before and after school, taking care of our 20-cow herd. I loved the cows. After I graduated from high school in 1977, I rented a place to milk on my own. In 1980, Jan and I bought this farm, and we were married the next year. Jan: I did not grow up on a dairy farm so I married into it.

What are your thoughts and concerns about the dairy industry for the next year? How many dairy farms are going to be left? Fewer dairy farms are going to hurt other businesses. It’s a problem, but we don’t know how to fix it.

What is the latest technology you implemented on your farm and the purpose for it? At the beginning of June, we put in a variable speed milk pump. It replaced the original one from 1980. Even though we have not had it that long, we can tell it has made a difference. The compressor hardly runs. It will help reduce the wear and tear on the compressor.

What is a management practice you changed in the past year that has benefited you? Last year we started using baleage out of necessity; however, it worked so well we decided to continue it this year. Our entire first crop went into baleage. We like that we can cut it one day and make the baleage the next. We can also stack it outside.

What cost-saving steps have you implemented during the low milk price? We try to maintain and keep production up during those times. There is only so much we can cut out.

How do you retain a good working relationship with your employees? We do not have any employees. It is just the two of us. We have had 41 years of working together to figure out how to work together. It helps that we have our own areas to work. For example, Jan does the milking while Jim does the mixing and feeding. We also have learned we need to work through days whether we feel sick or down, or not.

Tell us about a skill you possess that makes dairy farming easier for you. Jim: I have the ability to keep going to get something done. I also have patience, and I know how to fix things. Jan: I am able to go with the flow. We both are, actually. We both know things do not always go as planned.

What do you enjoy most about dairy farming? Jim: I like being able to work together and be our own bosses. Jan: I like being able to walk out the door and be at work. I also have enjoyed being able to raise our kids here. And now our grandkids love being here too.

What advice would you give other dairy farmers? Watch your costs as much as you can. Do not buy a $300,000 tractor when you will be fine with buying one for $100,000.

What has been the best purchase you have ever made on your farm? Early on in our career, when we bought our first skidloader and our TMR mixer were the best purchases. The change in the physicality of our jobs was tremendous. It made the job easier. Last year, we were able to purchase a bigger skidloader because of our baleage.

What has been your biggest accomplishment while dairy farming? Staying in business and being able to keep going. Also raising our family. For us, it was never about making the most money. We have never made a lot of it. But it is our life, and we enjoy it.

What are your plans for your dairy in the next year and five years? Our goal is to keep going and eventually retire in the next few years. I (Jim) am 63 and Jan is 58.

How do you or your family like to spend time when you are not doing chores? We like to ride our motorcycle. We will take off for an afternoon, drive the back roads and enjoy the scenery. Our goal is to take roads we have never been on. Usually there is a stop to get ice cream, too.


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