Mike Hess
Foley, Minn.
Benton County
90 cows
How did you get into farming? I’ve been farming my whole life.

What are your thoughts and concerns about the dairy industry for the next year? I hope it gets better.

What is the latest technology you implemented on your farm and the purpose for it? I haven’t upgraded anything in 20 years on the dairy side.

What is a management practice you changed in the past year that has benefited you? I watch the X’s and O’s a lot closer because the prices are so tight. I keep an eye on feed prices, and I breed the cows back sooner to increase days in milk.
What cost-saving steps have you implemented during low milk prices? I do not spend money unless I have to.

How do you retain a good working relationship with your employees? I treat them right and make them feel like they’re part of the farm.

Tell us about a skill you possess that makes dairy farming easier for you. I like working with numbers and analyzing the markets.

What do you enjoy most about dairy farming? Being my own boss, working with great employees and not commuting to work.

What advice would you give other dairy farmers? Watch your numbers, and needs come before wants.

What has been the best purchase you’ve ever made on your farm? Twenty-five years ago I put a manure pit in. It’s sure nice when it’s cold out, and I get to use the manure for the crops. Everything else takes money to buy it, but that makes me money.

What has been your biggest accomplishment while dairy farming? That I’m still doing it after 25 years.

What are your plans for your dairy in the next year and five years? I’d like to grow my steer raising operation. I feed out 250 now, but I’d like to grow the beef raising side of the business. I don’t want to expand the dairy if there’s already too much milk in the market.

How do you or your family like to spend time when you are not doing chores? I like to go to the gym and lift weights or go out with friends.