Matt (left) and Ben Siems
Zumbro Falls, Minnesota
Wabasha County
140 cows

How did you get into farming? Our parents, Chuck and Cindy, are dairy farmers, so we started dairy farming too. Matt: I returned to the farm in 2008 after going to Dakota County Technical College for autobody and working one year off the farm. Ben: I started farming in 2012 after high school. For the first three years, I also worked another job off the farm. We are the fourth generation in our family on this farm.

What are your thoughts and concerns about the dairy industry for the next year? The dairy industry is looking better especially with the trade deals being done. We are excited to see how they turn out. After last year, it makes everything seem optimistic.

What is the latest technology you implemented on your farm and the purpose for it? We started using an SCR system two years ago to track activity for reproduction. Before, we used to have a synchronization program and gave shots twice a week. Now only cows that have not shown heat in 60 days are put on the synchronization program. We have been able to get cows bred back a lot faster and are now starting to see more animals on our farm.

What is a management practice you changed in the past year that has benefited you? We have not changed a lot. We are trying to stay consistent.

What cost-saving steps have you implemented during the low milk price? We have been working closely with our nutritionist to help cut down on our feed cost. He tries to find an equivalent product that is less expensive from another provider. We have also cut our drug costs by cutting down on ones that are most expensive.

How do you retain a good working relationship with your employees? We do not have any employees. Within our family, we try to keep communication going and talk to each other when things need to get done.

Tell us about a skill you possess that makes dairy farming easier for you. We both are not afraid to jump in and fix things when necessary.

What do you enjoy most about dairy farming? Matt: I like being my own boss. Ben: I like dealing with the animals.

What advice would you give other dairy farmers? If you treat cows good, they will treat you good.  

What has been the best purchase you have ever made on your farm? Our manure pit in 2015, our silage bunkers in 2012 and our feed pusher in 2014.

What has been your biggest accomplishment while dairy farming? That we have been able to keep improving our farm and strive to do better.

What are your plans for your dairy in the next year and five years? In the next year, we will focus on small projects like replacing curtains and catching up on maintenance. We will also look at our breeding protocols because we will soon have too many replacements. We will probably start breeding some cows to beef. In the next five years, we would like to build a bigger heated shop.

How do you or your family like to spend time when you are not doing chores? We like to relax, kick back in a chair after chores or go out for a meal.