Robert Horst
Bristow, Iowa    
Butler County
200 cows

How did you get into farming? I grew up on a dairy farm. I raised replacement heifers and was a hoof trimmer for 22 years. The last six of those 22 years we were milking 40 registered Jerseys. In 2007, we expanded the milking herd and stopped trimming.

What are your thoughts and concerns for the dairy industry for the next year? It’s going to be hard to cash flow and more dairies will go out of business. There will be more consolidation at all levels.
What is the latest technology you implemented on the farm and purpose for it? No significant updates since the 2008 expansion. We have a basic operation.

What is a management practice you changed in the past year that benefited you? No changes worth mentioning. Always small adjustments here and there, however.
What cost-saving steps have you implemented during the low milk price? Nothing major. We have been running lean for several years.
How do you retain a good working relationship with your employees? Treat them like family. Communicate about things other than work every day. Reward and thank them for their hard work.
Tell us about a skill that you possess that makes dairy farming easier for you. I can do most everything to care for our cows. I am a good cow man. I know the business and love what I do.
What do you enjoy most about dairy farming? Seeing people other than ourselves enjoy the fruits of our labor. There is something new every day, and I enjoy working outside.
What advice would you give other dairy farmers? Stay focused on your objective. There will be better times. Think about what a supply management program would look like through your co-op or processor.
What has been the best purchase you ever made on the farm? A WeCover barn in 2008.
What has been your biggest accomplishment while dairy farming? Raising two incredible daughters.
What are your plans for your dairy farm in the next five years? God willing, continue efficiently producing the best product possible. Upgrade our milking parlor.
How do you and your family like to spend time when you are not doing chores? For myself, eating and sleeping – sometimes not in the same order. We like to mix it up. We also enjoy spending time with the kids and grandkids.