July 26, 2021 at 3:33 p.m.
Linton, North Dakota
How did you get into farming? I started farming with my parents, Herman and Lorraine, in 1980. At that time, I had 160 acres of my own land and helped Dad in return. Rita and I married in 1982, and we bought the farm from my parents that same year. We were milking about 95 cows in a double-6 herringbone parlor. I planted mostly wheat and corn. Over the 40 years of farming together, we have produced soybeans, barley and sunflower.
What are your thoughts and concerns about the dairy industry for the next year? The dairy industry is hurting because not enough people are drinking milk anymore, and they are hearing such negative things about our product which they don’t have the facts on. It is a hard market to follow. Milk is a tough product to produce because it’s a 365 days, two times a day job with no time off. People are not staying home and drinking milk like they used to.
What is the latest technology you implemented on your farm and the purpose for it? We put in all automatic take-offs in 1998. We wanted to be more efficient with milking so we did not over milk our cows. We noticed less mastitis problems, lower somatic cell counts in our cows and a higher production per cow.
What is a management practice you changed in the past year that has benefited you? We went to no-till cropping in 2010. Our soil holds moisture longer, and there has been more drought resistance. There has also been an increase in yield. We have been able to decrease cow numbers and feed more efficiently, and along with better genetics, we milk less cows but produce more milk.
What cost-saving steps have you implemented during the low milk price? We cut back on feed. We worked with our nutritionist to cut back on rations to make feeding more efficient. We switched to less expensive supplements like using distillers grain instead of soybean meal. We have been using a total mixed ration since 1996.
How do you retain a good working relationship with your employees? We are family-operated. Rita and I and the kids have always done all the work. Sometimes, we hired help on weekends to get away. We always hired someone we knew, someone who understood the cows and we could rely on.
Tell us about a skill you possess that makes dairy farming easier for you. I know the cows well and know the cows by name. I can always tell if one of my cows isn’t themselves or not feeling well. I am with them every day. I know how they act. I can take care of them myself if they aren’t feeling well, and if they need more help, I call the veterinarian for assistance.
What do you enjoy most about dairy farming? I enjoy milking the cows and being with the cows. I have always enjoyed milking. When my sons were home, they would be in the field, but I would be home milking my cows.
What advice would you give other dairy farmers? Dairy is a hard job. You have to be committed to it if you want it to work. Dairy farming is something you need to take seriously and be committed to full time to make it work for you and your cows.
What has been the best purchase you have ever made on your farm? Our mixer wagon. It improved the whole health of the herd and made feeding cows a lot easier. It brought up our milk production.
What has been your biggest accomplishment while dairy farming? Owning our land and getting the farm paid off.
What are your plans for your dairy in the next year and five years? In the next year, we plan to slowly get out of dairy. We have been reducing our dairy herd slowly by breeding our cows to Simmental, Angus and Red Angus bulls. We hope to be done dairying in less than a year. We plan to focus on grain production and stock cows to use the pasture we have. In the next five years, we plan to transition crop acres to our son, Justin, and his wife, Janel, to incorporate the next generation.
How do you or your family like to spend time when you are not doing chores? Relaxing and visiting with grandkids, and visiting family members who are far away.
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