Proud to be a family dairy farm

Mohrs cherish years in industry, career of milking cows

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NEW ULM, Minn. – When Roger Mohr was a child, he looked across his family’s farm property and always thought the neighboring farm site would be the perfect place to milk cows. Now, decades later, he fulfills that dream alongside his wife and children.
“You could say I’m proud,” Roger said. “I’m happy we’re doing what we’re doing and that we’ve been successful at it.”
Roger and his wife, Anita, and son, Scott, own RAS Dairy Inc. in Brown County near New Ulm. Together, with Roger and Anita’s daughter, Sarah, the family milks 100 cows and farms 350 acres of corn, soybeans, alfalfa, peas and triticale.
At 78-years-old, Roger has been farming for 54 years. He purchased the farm site from his dad in 1967, soon before he and Anita were wed.
Roger and Scott take care of a majority of the chores, including herd health, morning milking and fieldwork. Anita is responsible for the calves and bookwork.
The family’s mornings begin with Roger milking the herd in a double-11 parlor. Roger and Scott milk together, and then Scott mixes and delivers feed and cleans the stalls afterward.
At the same time, Anita is feeding the youngstock.
“For as long as I can remember, I’ve fed calves,” Anita said. “I like working outside.”
By 5 p.m. each evening, the family gathers for dinner together while high schoolers begin chores and milking. Scott joins the young crew afterward to complete milking.
“When we were little, we always helped with chores,” Scott said.
Roger agreed.
“Everyone had to work and that taught responsibility,” he said. “But because it was just us, we also made sure we always had dinner together.”
The Mohrs hire high school-aged students for their evening chores, a practice they have done for nearly two decades. While employed, the youth learn responsibility, how to operate machinery and the reasons for every task as it relates to the farm’s goals.
Anita enjoys providing the help with baked goods, and the family has allowed the employees to use their land during hunting seasons.  
“You just always want to treat people how you want to be treated,” Anita said. “It might not be a big deal to us, but to them it is.”
Scott agreed.
“To us, it’s important we provide this type of opportunity,” he said. “We were all young once and someone had to teach us.”
Scott joined his family’s farm shortly after finishing college in 1988. Prior to dairy farming, he worked a few other jobs but being a part of his parents’ operation was a calling.
“Dairy farming is always something I wanted to do,” Scott said. “When I was away at school, I took a greater interest in it, especially nutrition. I like working with the animals more than anything.”
    Roger, too, had a calling to farm. In 1962, he left the familiar farming community in southern Minnesota to begin military service based at Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina. After a short time in active duty followed by three years in the U.S. Army Reserves, Roger was ready to dairy farm.  
“By then, I knew I just wanted to farm,” Roger said.
 He returned to the farm and milked 27 cows in the site’s original 31-stall stanchion barn. Over the years, they grew the herd and at one point were milking 65 cows in the barn.
“We were switching the cows twice because the ones that were first in the barn returned after milking,” Scott said.
Roger agreed.
“That took a lot of time,” he said. “But at the same time, I always enjoyed getting into the barn after a day of driving tractor.”
In 1997, the family built a 101-stall freestall barn. The Mohrs use the farm’s original barn to house calves in the winter time. For the remainder of the year, the youngstock are housed in individual hutches along a grove of trees.
“Building that barn was a big financial undertaking,” Roger said. “It cost more than what it cost me to purchase the farm.”
At the same time, they also built a double-8 parlor; one of the first that incorporated a drop rail exit system. The parlor was then expanded to its current size in 2011.
The Mohrs were in the new barn and parlor for six months before the devastating tornado of 1998. That storm tore a quarter of the roof off the barn.
“We were lucky we could still milk yet,” Scott said. “And, we still had a house.”
Roger agreed.
“People came to help,” he said. “In a crisis, people always come to help.”
Throughout the years, the family has made large and small improvements to their dairy. Not only have they replaced nearly every original building on the farm site, they have upgraded machinery and updated the freestall barn with waterbed mattresses.
All of these improvements were essential, coupled with Scott’s desire to farm, in the long-term sustainability of the dairy.
“If Scott didn’t come back, we wouldn’t still be farming here,” Roger said. “I think we’ve come a long way.”
The Mohrs are now one of 30-some dairy farms in Brown County; a stark reality of the times but also an opportunity for the family to be a staple in their community. They often welcome guests to their dairy – family members of past and current employees and international visitors who come to the area for a traditional German celebration.
“We’ve had people come from Austria and Germany to see our farm. I speak German, so it’s easy to communicate,” Roger said. “It makes us feel good people think of us when they want to see a dairy farm.”
Scott agreed.
“People like to see and learn about our dairy,” he said. “Here, we’ve always kept it personal and about family, and we plan to keep it like that.”

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