March 27, 2021 at 8:06 p.m.
How did you get into farming? I took over the farm from my parents. I have been dairy farming ever since I got out of high school, which will be 30 years this spring.
What are your thoughts and concerns about the dairy industry for the next year? Prices are my main concern, both the price of milk and the price of inputs.
What is the latest technology you implemented on your farm and the purpose for it? I do a fair amount of custom work on the side, so I have added auto steer on the tractor for planting, row shut-offs on the corn planter and a yield monitor on the combine. I also just upgraded my round baler to one with a rotor cutter. I upgraded my portable TMR mixer to a vertical mixer and am looking at automatic take-offs.
What is a management practice you changed in the past year that has benefited you? I changed from bedding with straw to bedding with sawdust in the barn. I have been very happy with that so far. It is much more economical and mastitis issues have gone way down. The somatic cell count has averaged between 90,000 to 100,000 since I made the change.
What cost-saving steps have you implemented during the low milk price? I really have not changed that much, except trying to change my protein mix a little bit to bring the cost of that down. I have always tried to do things as economically as possible, and I have always found that if you cut too many corners, it usually comes back to bite you in the nose.
How do you retain a good working relationship with your employee(s)? I really do not consider myself the boss, or act in that manner. I view us as a team. We all do what we need to do to get everything done, and usually we all agree and are pretty much on the same page. I ask for a lot of opinions, and take them into consideration when making decisions.
Tell us about a skill you possess that makes dairy farming easier for you. I know how to fix everything. I am able to do all my own maintenance and repair, except for something like an engine overhaul. That saves a lot in labor and service charges.
What do you enjoy most about dairy farming? I like seeing the results of the efforts of my work, like seeing heifers calve in well after you have put two years into raising, feeding and caring for them or watching the crops grow and seeing the results of a year’s worth of work at harvest. I just had three heifers calve in really nice, and that is so rewarding. Each year, I always have several local non-farm kids that will spend time on the farm and take heifers to the fair. I enjoy watching them have that experience and learn about cows and farming.
What advice would you give other dairy farmers? Get up every morning and keep trying to do your best, and just hang on. Without us, the world is in trouble.
What has been the best purchase you’ve ever made on your farm? A portable TMR mixer for feeding heifers and dry cows outside I purchased about two or three years ago.
What has been your biggest accomplishment while dairy farming? Still being in business after 30 years of some pretty crazy ups and downs. I think it is sad to see all the farms sitting empty, falling down. When I started 30 years ago, there were 13 working dairy farms between here and Elroy, and now I am the only one left.
What are your plans for your dairy in the next year and five years? For the next year, it sounds like it will be just to maintain. In the future, I would like to be able to build a new heifer shed.
How do you or your family like to spend time when you are not doing chores? Unfortunately, there is not a lot of time left over after chores, but in the summer I like to go boating with friends. I enjoy hunting, and harvest went well enough last fall I got to do more hunting than I ever have. I just got a crossbow and am going to start bow hunting this fall.
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