Dairy Profile

Jake Mehr of Farming, Minnesota | Stearns County | 55 cows

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How did you get into farming? I have been farming all my life. It’s in my blood. I moved back to the home farm in 2018 and am in the process of buying the farm.

What are the most significant ways your farm has changed since you started farming? I used to have a tumble mixer, and then, I switched to a total mixed ration. The cows now get the same ration every day. Since I made the switch, my components went up. It was a win-win situation. Last year, I bought an automatic bale loader that picks up bales by itself. I can pick up bales with one person. I bale, Dad picks up, and my brother, Paul, who has his own dairy farm, wraps. It’s so efficient. I don’t need two people to pick up bales.

What was a challenge you faced in your dairy farming career, and how did you overcome it? The volatile prices of milk compared to my inputs, like fuel and fertilizer. I try hard to maximize my inputs based on what I get on my milk price.

What is the best decision you have made on your farm? Buying the vertical spreader. It really does such a good job having a uniform spread on the field. I bought it three years ago, and I don’t have the windrows.

What are three things on the farm that you cannot live without? The skid loader, spreader, pasteurizer and TMR. I use the skid loader for scraping heifer fronts, loading the TMR and bedding. You can take my phone but not my skid loader. I really like the pasteurizer because it allows me to take the high somatic cell count cow out of the line and feed that milk to the calves. I have had it since 2014.

What are your thoughts and concerns about the dairy industry for the next year? I really hope the milk price comes up. I think that it will. Otherwise, you ride the reigns and hold tight. I was raised that if you don’t have the money, you don’t buy it.

What strategies do you use to withstand the volatile milk prices? I save and prepare for low milk prices. If you overspend, you are in trouble. When I buy, I try to have it all down. If I can’t, I don’t buy it.

How do you maintain family relationships while also working together? My dad, Vern, helps in the morning by cleaning the manger, washing the pipeline, helping bring in a new cow or heifer, or helping feed. He helps at night as well. I appreciate him coming around and try to say thank you.

What do you find most rewarding about dairy farming? I am my own boss. If I want to get someplace during the day, I can. I can organize my schedule to the way I need it. I am not tied to anyone else’s schedule. The flexibility is nice.

Tell us something special about your farm. I get to work with family on the farm. My brother farms 1 mile down the road, and my parents live across the road. I also have sisters in Rice, Minnesota and Albany, Minnesota, and the nieces and nephews are out to the farm at least once a week. Also, I’ve received a SCC award every year. I have always believed that if I am milking cows, I should have good-quality milk. I also receive better premiums. I get 70 cents for a SCC under 100,000, and that really adds up.

What are your plans for your dairy in the next year and five years? Keep farming. If the prices come back, I would like to upgrade some buildings, especially the dry cow facility.

How do you or your family like to spend time when you are not doing chores? I like to hang out with friends and play cards or other games. We also play the card game 500 as a family. I also like to drive my side-by-side on Sundays and look at the crops and take in nature, like going down to the river. I like to take in the little things in life.

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