Adam Leitheiser
Emery, S.D.
McCook County
60 cows

How did you get into farming? My dad was farming long before I was around. I grew up helping out on the farm. I spent many summers throwing square bales into the barn for the cows.

What are your thoughts and concerns about the dairy industry over the next year? As a dairy farmer, I try not to think about it. But milk prices are always a concern. I also wonder what will happen with this fall out from Fair Oaks Farms, and all the new rules and regulations with animal husbandry. You never foresee the possibility of losing your market, but the future is really unclear. It’s kind of like a magic eight ball.

What is the latest technology you implemented on your farm and the purpose for it? We haven’t updated much on the dairy side, but we added GPS guidance and yield mapping a few years ago. Yield guidance has helped us pinpoint poor spots in the field and GPS guidance has helped the planter drive a lot straighter. It helps us save a few pennies here and there.

What is a management practice you changed in the past year that has benefited you? This past year we decided to chop alfalfa silage for the first time in a long time. It was more of a necessary task in order to maintain what we had.

What cost-saving steps have you implemented during the low milk price? We backed off on plans to replace the freestalls. Instead of replacing them, we fixed them up to help with cow comfort. There is not a lot to cut. We maintain what we have.

How do you retain a good working relationship with your employees? I work with my dad, brother and uncle. Some days it can be a challenge, but we get along for the most part. We usually get together at a lot of family gatherings and major holidays to socialize, and at harvest time we all help each other out.

Tell us about a skill you possess that makes dairy farming easier for you. Being able to artificially inseminate helps. You don’t have to hire anyone. I get some of them. The ones I don’t get, the bull gets, so it works out. As a farmer you have to do a lot by yourself especially when prices are down. I guess you could say I’m the jack of all trades, but a master of none.

What do you enjoy most about dairy farming? Being my own boss. I like knowing that if something goes wrong, I made the mistake. The only people I have to answer to are the 60 girls in my barn every morning and night.

What advice would you give to other dairy farmers? Diversity is always good. It helps spread your risk out. Diversity doesn’t fix everything, but it does help.

What has been the best purchase you have ever made on your farm? When we first bought a mixer wagon. In the past, we used to feed out of a feeder wagon. When we switched to mixing the feed, there was a production increase.

What has been your biggest accomplishment while dairy farming? Getting to raise my four kids – Allison, 6, Bridgette, 6, Emily, 4, and Connor, 6 months – on the farm.

What are your plans for your dairy in the next year and five years? No real big plans within the next year, but in the next five years I plan to try and upgrade facilities. We will need to fix a few things in order to maintain what we have. By that time, upgrading and tune ups will become a necessity.

How do you and your family like to spend time when you are not doing chores? Picnics in the park. We also do a lot of swimming and playing in the park. I enjoy spending time together as a family and having fun.