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January 11, 2020

“All dairy, all the time”™

Volume 21, No. 22

“It’s been a huge loss in the community, but people are united and there’s a solidarity in farming.” – Rodney Roers

Farm accident claims three lives

Boesls remembered as genuinely good people By Jennifer Coyne & Mark Klaphake Staff Writers

MILLERVILLE, Minn. – There is a void in the rural community of Millerville after losing three of its members in a horric farm accident days before Christmas. Brothers Steve and Curt Boesl and Curt’s 11-yearold son, Alex, succumbed

to toxic silo gases Dec. 21, 2019, on Curt’s farm site near Millerville. “After 27 years, you think you can prepare yourself for anything, … but you can never understand the feeling of sitting on top of a silo catwalk doing mouthto-mouth resuscitation with someone that close (to you),” Rodney Roers said. Roers is the former Millerville Fire Department Chief and took part in the life-saving efforts following the accident. Roers knew the Boesls, having served on the

Curt Boesl

Alex Boesl

department with them for more than 20 years. On the morning of the incident, Curt and Alex were working in the top of the silo

Kugaths farm through the ages

Steve Boesl

when another one of Curt’s sons was outside the silo. The son below realized what was happening and called 911 and his uncle, Steve, ac-

cording to a report from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Ofce. “We got the call and you hear it’s on Gravel Pit Road, and you know there are only three people on that road,” Roers said. “You’re scared for everyone, but in your gut you know it has to be Curt and Julie’s place. … You pray you’re there on time. You pray you can save them.” Once the re department and emergency crews arTurn to BOESLS | Page 5

How two producers weathered the downturn

Byington, Roerick share strategies during MN Milk Conference seminar By Krista Kuzma


The Kugaths (from leŌ) – Harlan, Jan and Mike – talk about the chores to complete on their dairy Jan. 2 at the farm near Cologne, Minnesota. Harlan and Jan conƟnue to work with their son every day.

Cologne couple looks forward to chores every day By Jennifer Coyne

COLOGNE, Minn. – Rain, snow or wind does not stop Harlan and Jan Kugath from making their way to the

dairy barn every morning. The couple, ages 83 and 79, respectively, looks forward to their daily routine – up at dawn, a quick breakfast and then chores on their family’s 40-cow dairy farm in Carver

County near Cologne. “I’ll retire when they close the cover,” Harlan said. Harlan and Jan purchased the dairy farm from Harlan’s Turn to KUGATHS | Page 10

WELCH, Minn. – The last four years of low milk prices have been tough for nearly every dairy farmer. Two producers – Craig Roerick of Upsala and Parker Byington of Lewiston – shared strategies they used to make it through the downtown during a farmer panel Dec. 4, 2019, called, “Dairy Protability and Resiliency” during the Minnesota Milk Dairy Conference and Expo in Welch. Roerick works together with his dad, Roger, and brother, Stephen, on their family’s 175-cow dairy near Upsala. Their cows are milked by robots in a new facility the Roericks built in 2015. Byington and his family – his wife, Katherine, and their three young children along with his parents, Terry and Elizabeth – moved from eastern Washington to Minnesota, purchasing their farm in 2016. They milk 600 cows on their farm, Heritage Hills Dairy, near Lewiston. Terry works off the farm driving truck for a feed elevator. Both farmers said keeping accurate and timely records is important in keeping the farm going. The Roericks have been enrolled in the farm business management program since the early 1980s. “That’s what helps us get our records done,” Roerick said. “Yes, it takes time to input all the information, … but we split up the chores to make sure it’s not too overwhelming.” The Byington family works with a consultant through ComTurn to DOWNTURN | Page 6

Page 2 • Dairy Star • Saturday, January 11, 2020


ISSN 020355 522 Sinclair Lewis Ave. Sauk Centre, MN 56378 Phone: (320) 352-6303 Fax: (320) 352-5647 Published by Dairy Star LLC General Manager/Editor Mark Klaphake - 320-352-6303 (ofce) 320-248-3196 (cell) 320-352-0062 (home) Ad Composition Nancy Powell 320-352-6303 Consultant Jerry Jennissen 320-346-2292 Editorial Staff Krista Kuzma - Editor/Wisconsin (507) 259-8159 • Andrea Borgerding - Associate Editor (320) 352-6303 • Jennifer Coyne - Assistant Editor (320) 352-6303 • Danielle Nauman (608) 487-1101 Stacey Smart - Staff Writer (262) 442-6666 • Maria Bichler - Copy Editor 320-352-6303 Advertising Sales Main Ofce: 320-352-6303 Fax: 320-352-5647 Deadline is 5 p.m. of the Friday the week before publication Sales Manager - Joyce Frericks 320-352-6303 • Bob Leukam (Northern MN, East Central MN) 320-260-1248 (cell) Mark Klaphake (Western MN) 320-352-6303 (ofce) 320-248-3196 (cell) Laura Seljan (National Advertising, SE MN) 507-250-2217 fax: 507-634-4413 Jerry Nelson (SW MN, NW Iowa, South Dakota) 605-690-6260 Mike Schafer (Central, South Central MN) 320-894-7825 Amanda Hoeer (Eastern Iowa) 320-250-2884 • Julie Barnes (SE WI and Northern IL) Megan Stuessel (Western Wisconsin) 608-387-1202 • Ashley Curry (Northeast WI and Upper MI) 920-539-7268 • Deadlines The deadline for news and advertising in the Dairy Star is 5 p.m. Friday the week before publication. Subscriptions One year subscription $35.00, outside the U.S. $110.00. Send check along with mailing address to Dairy Star, 522 Sinclair Lewis Ave., Sauk Centre, MN 56378. Advertising Our ad takers have no authority to bind this newspaper and only publication of an advertisement shall constitute nal acceptance of the advertiser's order. Letters Letters and articles of opinion are welcomed. Letters must be signed and include address and phone number. We reserve the right to edit lengthy letters. The views and opinions expressed by Dairy Star columnists and writers are not necessarily those of the Dairy Star LLC.

The Dairy Star is published semi-monthly by Dairy Star, LLC, 522 Sinclair Lewis Ave., Sauk Centre, MN 56378-1246. Periodicals Postage Paid at Sauk Centre, MN and additional mailing ofces. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Dairy Star, 522 Sinclair Lewis Ave., Sauk Centre, MN 56378-1246.

A glance at what’s inside The ip of the calendar into a new year and new decade gave Dairy Star staff the opportunity to reect on the biggest news stories throughout the past 10 years. It was fun to take a moment to refresh our memories about the most newsworthy events from 2010 to 2019. Weather is always a big topic for dairy farmers, and is reected in our decade look-back. One of the stories highlighted from 2019 was one in the last issue about dairy farmers working well into December to nish their crop. A wet spring causing a late start to the season and continued precipitation throughout the summer along with unseasonably cooler weather made the year frustrating. With last year still fresh in our minds, it made us chuckle a bit when we read our story from May 2010 about how a farmer getting the rst of his corn in on May 3 was behind schedule. Oh, how things are different in the recent years. We were also reminded of the hardships the weather has caused in the past 10 years – a major loss of the corn crop in South Dakota 2012 after a year of very little rain; a signicant loss of alfalfa in southern Minnesota after winter kill in 2013; and the dozens of barn collapses in the upper Midwest after a blizzard in early 2019. Dairy cooperatives and processors also made headline news over the decade. Agropur expanded its Lake Norden plan. Producers were dropped by Grassland. Swiss Valley Farms and Prairie Farms Dairy merged. Land O’Lakes enacted a base program. South Dakota State University also overhauled its dairy plant in 2010. Of course, dairy support programs remained topics of conversation when trying to pass into law. On farm practices such as tail-docking and the use of rbST were discontinued. Check out the second section where you can nd all the stories we recapped for our decade in review. If you have a favorite memory or story from the past 10 years, let us know by emailing krista.k@ Happy reading!

Check out our Decade in Review in Second Section!


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Dairy Star • Saturday, January 11, 2020 • Page 3

It’s all inside... Columnists Millerville



First Section: Pages 1, 5

First Section: Pages 6 - 7

First Section: Pages 1, 10-11

Country Cooking


Bon Yankton Homme






First Section: Pages 15 - 16


Pottawattamie Cass Mills nt


Zone 1

Kanabec ms ey


Hancock Cerro Gordo



Mitchell Howard Floyd







rs Ma






Wright Franklin Butler





Black Hawk

Webster Hamilton Hardin Grundy








e war Dubuque





Star Youth: Kelsey Biel





Madison Warren Marion Mahaska Keokuk


ry ome Adams ntg



n Win





lh Ca






Harrison Shelby




h ca

Crawford Carroll



Hubbard Wadena e Buena Vista



Palo Alto



e Ch


From Our Side of the Fence

n inso Emmet












Page 22 Second Section

Cottonwood Watonwan Blue Earth Waseca Steele Dodge Olmsted





Charles Mix

McCook Minnehaha






























First Section: Page 39



Jackson Clinton

n Cedar so



Third Section: Page 5








Dairy Prole: Matt & Ben Seims


Union old





Decatur Wayne

Monroe Wapello e










Yellow Medicine


Zumbro Falls

W in













Wa s






Lac Qui Parle








eu r




Mille Lacs







Todd Grant

Big Stone



Crow Wing

sh iek

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Po we

Fall River




First Section: Pages 23, 25


The “Mielke” Market Jackson Weekly


Otter Tail


Midwest Dairy offers money for promotion

isa Ch




Brown Walworth



Cook Lake













Page 33 First Section Meade




m hno



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Tra ver se



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Page 30 First Section Hettinger




Page 31 First Section






Koochiching St. Louis

Red Lake






Grand Forks



Lake of the Woods


Benson Nelson



Golden Valley






Dear County Agent Guy Stark






OnMountrail the Road with PrincessWard Kay Page 27 First Section



vi so n







Page 26 Renville First BurkeSection


FSA News & Notes


Kugaths farm through the ages

Kids Corner: The Matter Family


Farm accident claims three lives

Au d

Pages 8-9 First Section


Ag Insider



f Jef

Van Buren


Henry Des



Zone 2


Junk family perseveres through accidents Third Section: Pages 2 - 4


For additional stories from our other zone, log on to

Individuals are the reason for Timms’ vibrant career First Section: Page 34

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Dairy Star • Saturday, January 11, 2020 • Page 5

ConƟnued from BOESLS | Page 1

rived, Steve was pronounced dead at the scene having tried to rescue his brother and nephew. Roers attempted to resuscitate Curt before he was transported to the St. Cloud Hospital in St. Cloud. Curt died a day later, Dec. 22, 2019. “We had to do what we could,” Roers said. “I was up there and so was my other captain. He started on little Alex. It was so emotional for the whole department.” Alex was own to Children’s Minnesota, formerly Children’s Hospital and Clinics of Minnesota, in Minneapolis. After nearly a week of ghting for his life, Alex passed away Dec. 27, 2019. The Boesls leave behind family and a community in mourning. Steve married his high school sweetheart, Kim. Together, they have ve children – Paige, Peyton, Dalton, Dylan and Avery. Curt leaves behind his wife, Julie, and children Logan, Claire, Lance and Lily. Alex was the middle child amongst his four siblings. Steve and Curt dairy farmed with their brothers – Jeff, Scott and Brent – and father, Tim, in Douglas County. “I remember one night we got a call, and when we were done it was about 4 a.m. and Curt was running back to the barn to go milk,” Roers said. “They were a well-run operation, and they operated with love and care.” Curt was also the assistant re chief at the time of his death. He had nearly 25 years in volunteering for the department under his belt. Likewise, Steve spent 22 years with the department before retiring a few years ago. “They were all such good guys,” Roers said. “They were so busy they didn’t have time to sleep, but they found time to volunteer.” While the entire community of Millerville was shook by the accident, they are remembering the three cherished lives. Curt, Steve and Alex will be remembered for their genuine characters. “They will be remembered the same way they’ve always been thought of: hard working, down to earth, dependable, good fathers, so many things they’ve done right in their lives,” Roers said. “Their parents, Tim and Phyllis, have so much to be proud of … their entire family.”

An excerpt of Alex’s obituary read, “Alex was so genuine. He had a heart of gold. He had a way of knowing when someone was feeling down. He was a giver just like his father. In his nal act of kindness, he gave the gift of life to others.” Knowing the impact this family had on the community and will continue to have has helped Roers and others through this time of sorrow. “After the funeral I texted everyone on the department. We have to keep our heads high,” Roers said. “Because of them, the family had hope. Because of them, little Alex spent one more Christmas with his family. Also, because of their ac-


“They were all such good guys. They were so busy they didn’t have time to sleep, but they found time to volunteer.”

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tions, Alex was able to donate his organs to other kids in saving their lives.” Since the accident, the community of Millerville has found ways to grieve and support the Boesl families. Prayers have been abundant and many have gone to the dairy to help with chores. “It’s been a huge loss in the community, but people are united and there’s a solidarity in farming,” Roers said. “We’re continuing to pray for the families and we’re here when they’re ready to ask for help.” This has been a stark reminder in the agriculture community to be cautious of the dangers of silos. The Boesls recently lled the structure with high moisture corn, and the family knew the dangers fermentation posed to their health. “We really don’t know what caused this tragic chain of events; we may never know. Curt was a smart farmer,” said Roers, who has found comfort in the priest’s message at the funeral. “He told us God did not put them up on top of that silo, but God was there to receive them when it was their time. That gives a person a lot of hope.”

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Class III price to breakeven. When they saw contracts over $17, they locked in almost 75% of their milk. â&#x20AC;&#x153;When the milk price started to slide, and we had all that sold well above our cost of production, it helped carry us through really well,â&#x20AC;? Roerick said. While the Roericks missed out on money for the second half of 2019 because of a forward contract, they feel good with their choice. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We know we need x-amount of dollars in our checkbook to make it go, and weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re going to sell milk at a proď&#x192;&#x17E;tâ&#x20AC;? Roerick said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;As soon as we put robots in, it was no longer about low cost, it was about how to make these payments.â&#x20AC;? They also simpliď&#x192;&#x17E;ed where they get their supplies to streamline the process and reduce cost. One year ago, the Roericks invested in a calf barn so only one person is needed to manage all the calves. They have also increased calf rate of gain from 1.5 to 2.5 pounds per calf per day. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Yes, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s money up front, but what weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re seeing with our heifers coming down the line, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s paying off long term,â&#x20AC;? Roerick said. Roerickâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s wife along with his mom and sister-in-law working off the farm to carry the health insurance is another way for them to get through low prices along with being contract chicken growers. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not a way to get rich, but itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a very steady, secure source of income,â&#x20AC;? Roerick said. For the Byingtons, change came

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peer Financial on a quarterly basis; however, Byington takes it upon himself to calculate numbers every two weeks at payroll. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Being a ď&#x192;&#x17E;nance major, Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m a numbers freak,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;On a twoweek basis, I know our labor cost per hundredweight. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s been extremely effective. I also put in the energy corrected pounds shipped.â&#x20AC;? Since being at their farm, the Byingtons have gradually lowered their dairyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s breakeven point from $19 to $15.50 per hundredweight. â&#x20AC;&#x153;When you make changes that are hard because we live real lives with real emotions, â&#x20AC;Ś we can go back to the numbers to see was this change effective and did it actually make a difference,â&#x20AC;? Byington said. One of those hard decisions came in 2017, when Terry took off-farm employment. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It saved us somewhere around $0.50 per hundredweight,â&#x20AC;? Byington said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It adds up when you add it to the other changes we were able to make.â&#x20AC;? Both farmers said they have changed management strategies to endure the volatile prices from the last four years. For the Roericks, forward contracting, starting in 2017, has helped them stay aď&#x192;&#x;oat. â&#x20AC;&#x153;When we were budgeting for the robot barn, milk prices were looking pretty strong,â&#x20AC;? Roerick said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Then they started to slide down dramatically. We had to ď&#x192;&#x17E;gure out a way to make the payments and our wages and still be able to pay all the bills just like everybody else does.â&#x20AC;? They knew they needed a $16.50


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Dairy Star • Saturday, January 11, 2020 • Page 7

ConƟnued from DOWNTURN | Page 6

in 2017 after owning the farm for one year. “The farm was very successful before we got there, so we thought don’t screw it up,” Byington said. However, the falling milk price was not compatible with the high production, high input strategy. The rst thing they did was take the cows off rbST, which would have been necessary by the end of 2017 to keep selling to their cooperative anyway. “It was one step in a lot of steps to control the costs and have the cows not milk as much,” Byington said. “It sounds backwards, but that’s what our approach was.” While lowering production per cow, they also added more cows to increase efciency of the parlor. “Even though the cows were producing less per cow, we needed more cows and more milk being shipped off the farm to be able to carry the amount of bills we had every month,” Byington said. “We found every nook and cranny to milk a few more cows effectively and comfortably.” This meant switching bedded packs to sand bedded freestall barns to stabilize bedding cost. “I have learned bedded packs are really expensive,” Byington said. They also put more em-


Jolene Hadrich moderated a producer panel that included dairy farmers Craig Roerick (middle) and Parker Byington Dec. 4 at the Minnesota Milk Dairy Conference and Expo in Welch, Minnesota.

phasis on components and work to keep butterfat at 4% or higher and protein at 3.3% or higher. “We’re shipping more pounds of solids versus raw pounds of milk,” Byington said. “That helps our milk check on the bottom line.” Feeding more high-quality forage – increasing the amount in the ration from 40% to 55% – is how they boosted butterfat and protein. The last few years, the Byingtons have

started feeding BMR corn silage and low lignin alfalfa. “If components drop, we work with our nutritionist to nd solutions to make a change,” Byington said. Both Roerick and Byington use the Dairy Margin Coverage Protection and Dairy Revenue Protection programs. The Roericks are only able to put about half of their milk production into the DMC program. They do so at the high-

est coverage. “We feel DMC is a good program,” Roerick said. “It’s a reasonable buy.” In 2020, the Roericks will not lock in any forward contracts but will use the DRP program instead. “I’m still a little hesitant about it, … but we’re going to try it,” Roerick said. “We feel next year there might be some market upswing, so we don’t want to lock in to a contract

and miss out on some of the highs.” The Byingtons have their rst 5 million pounds of milk in the DMC program at the highest level. That accounts for a little less than one-third of their production. Within the last few years, the family had also been dabbling in class III forward contracts and puts. “When the DRP coverage came out, that was like a dream come true,” Byington said. “The prices for the coverage, knowing what I used to pay on the Class III puts, was a much better deal. With our debt load and where our cost of production is, I have been hungry just to cover anything I can get that is above our cost of production.” Because of this, the Byingtons have 90% of their dairy’s production covered for the upcoming 12 months. Going forward, both Roerick and Byington are hopeful for the future and look forward to higher milk prices than what they have endured the past three years. For the Byingtons, the average Class III milk price they have received since taking over the farm has been $14.76 per hundredweight. “Dairy farming is here to stay,” Roerick said. “We just have to gure out different ways of doing it.”

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China trade deal to be signed in mid-January Page 8 • Dairy Star • Saturday, January 11, 2020

The United States and China are scheduled to sign the China needs to import. “Some of the increase could come phase one trade deal on Jan. 15. President Donald Trump in terms of higher value products.” Glauber is the former said the signing ceremony will take place at the White chief economist for USDA. House with high-level representatives from the Chinese government. Trump plans to go to Beijing to start phase Rolling Stone questions farm payments two discussions at a later date. Rolling Stone magazine is known for Ag Insider its stories on music and pop culture, but an Improved dairy prospects in 2020 agriculture story was the top trending item AgResource Company President Dan on its website at the beginning of the year. Basse said domestic dairy product demand The story cited the so-called ‘Trump Money,’ was strong the last six months of 2019. That saying it is buying silence from farmers by is expected to continue in 2020. “We’re delivering subsidies to President Trump’s relatively upbeat on the dairy market. The base in Rural America. Government farm U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement should help payments are at a 14-year high, topping the with our neighbors to the north. We’re also auto industry bailout in 2008 by billions of excited to have China back at the table. I’m dollars. Most of those payments are designed optimistic the break in dairy will halt in the to mitigate the losses seen in the trade war rst quarter of 2020. Maybe January will be with China. a seasonal low again and we’ll start to see By Don Wick demand trends forthcoming.” Basse said November milk production edges higher Columnist unfortunately, farmers are still liquidating November U.S. milk production totaled herds. “I feel bad for the dairy farmers 17.4 billion pounds; up a half percent from a exiting the business because as we look at things today, year ago. USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service we’re probably starting on a more bullish landscape for also revised the October milk production number up dairy in the next few years.” 1.4 percent from a year ago to 17.2 billion pounds. The number of milk cows in the nation’s dairy herd totaled NCFC: More trade certainty 9.33 million head, unchanged from October, but 27,000 National Council of Farmer Cooperatives President head less than one year ago. Average production per cow Chuck Conner said farmers could see more trade certainty was up 15 pounds from one year ago. in the year ahead. The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement was passed in the House and will be considered by the CWT helps export 1 billion pound milk equivalent Senate early in the New Year. “We look forward to that day According to the National Milk Producers Federation, and it will be great trade news to U.S. farmers.” Conner the Cooperatives Working Together program assisted said there is also optimism in the phase one trade deal in exporting dairy products equal to nearly one billion between the United States and China, too.” pounds of milk this past year. Contracted sales through CWT totaled nearly 49 million pounds of AmericanQuestions remain over China trade deal type cheese, 123,000 pounds of anhydrous milkfat, 5 There are many unknowns regarding the phase one million pounds of butter, 6.8 million pounds of cream trade deal with China. International Food Policy Research cheese and over 46 million pounds of whole milk powder. Institute Senior Research Fellow Joe Glauber said one CWT member cooperatives promote exports by partially concern is if the United States can physically sell $40 offsetting administration and operational costs. to $50 billion in agricultural products to China. “We’re talking about an increase of $16 billion. The question Borden Dairy seeks bankruptcy protection becomes where does the increase come from?” Further Borden Dairy Company has led for Chapter 11 complicating the issue, Glauber said the African Swine bankruptcy. The dairy processor plans to continue with Fever outbreak will reduce the amount of soybeans that its normal operations during the reorganization process.

Borden CEO Tony Sarsam said the company is being impacted by the rising cost of raw milk and the market challenges facing the dairy industry. Borden is the second major U.S. dairy processor to seek bankruptcy protection in recent months, following Dean Foods which led in November. Public comments sought for use of UF milk in cheese manufacturing The Food and Drug Administration is taking public comment until March 20 on a proposal to allow the use of ultraltered uid milk to manufacture cheese and cheese products. The FDA issued guidance on the use and labeling of UF products in 2017, but reopened the comment period to consider current industry practices.

AgCountry FCS paying record patronage AgCountry Farm Credit Services is paying out a record $60 million in cash dividends to eligible memberowners this year. Given the current economic volatility in agriculture, AgCountry President and CEO Marc Knisely also announced a target payment rate for patronage in the future. “The board felt it was really important to put more intentionality to its cash patronage program,” Knisely said. “The intent of the board is to return a 1 percent cash patronage dividend each year; it is something customers can have more condence in as we go forward and take one more uncertainty off their platter.” Knisely said efforts have been taken to deal with the current farm nancial situation. This is the seventh consecutive year AgCountry is paying a cash dividend. Scholarships available for ag students The Minnesota Legislature passed the Workforce Development Initiative in 2017, making scholarships available in high demand career areas. AgCentric Director Keith Olander said agriculture is one of the areas targeted. “We usually have two job openings at least per graduate. We have a talent supply problem and we are highlighting the opportunities in agriculture.” These $2,500 scholarships are available for students pursuing a one year or two year associate degree, diploma or certicate program at one of 30 Minnesota state colleges and universities. “You don’t need to have a certain GPA or background; I’d encourage any student out there to check it out.” Turn to AG INSIDER | Page 9

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Dairy Star â&#x20AC;˘ Saturday, January 11, 2020 â&#x20AC;˘ Page 9

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parents in 1963. Harlan grew up on the farm and remembers being about 8 years old when he rst started milking cows and helped his father put the milking units back in the milk house. About 18 years ago, they sold the livestock and machinery to their son, Mike. The family farms 280 acres of corn, oats and alfalfa as feed for the cows. The couple begins their days at 4:30 a.m. Jan is the rst one out of the house. She begins each morning by cleaning the mangers and bringing down more shelled corn and corn silage from the silos. She then helps Mike in the tiestall barn prepping the cows for milking. After morning milking, Jan feeds the calves. At any given time, the Kugaths have about 25 calves to care for. “By 10 a.m., I’m done outside and ready to be back in the house,” Jan said. Harlan begins his day with a breakfast and is out the door by 6:30 a.m. As his wife and son are milking, he spends about an hour hauling feed in the Bobcat. The herd is fed a mix of sweet corn silage and corn silage, both stored in the silo or in a bag. “Once milking is done, the cows go out and then we bed, feed and bring the cows back in,” Harlan said. Then, Harlan and Jan clean use a wheelbarrow to deliver haylage in front of the stalls. By 12:30 p.m. Harlan retreats to the house for a short time. “I am slowing up though, so I look forward to my two-hour nap every day,” he said. In the afternoons, Harlan often mixes feed, works on machinery and runs errands for the farm before beginning evening chores. Mike then milks with help from high school stu-

dents who work part time for the Kugaths. “We’ve always had the right kind of help, a lot of good high school help,” Harlan said. The Kugaths have had former high school students return to help while on college break, invite the couple to milestone events in their life, and even bring their signicant others or children to the farm to meet Harlan and Jan long after they have stopped working on the dairy. “I can’t begin to count how many high school graduations or weddings we’ve been invited to,” Harlan said. “Any of these kids working here will be good employees for anyone. I know that.” Jan agreed. “They’ve all been very dependable,” she said. “I hope we’ve shown them responsibility.” The Kugaths’ farming philosophy has been built on responsibility. Harlan took on much of the family’s farm work when he was in high school and continued to as a young adult when his father became ill and could not work. “I fell into farming or I was subject to the draft,” Harlan said. “I was exempt if I kept working on the farm. I needed to run the farm to support my folks.” Then, Jan quickly became a part of the farm. “I married into it,” she said. “I keep doing it because it’s just my responsibility. It keeps me active and in good health.” Throughout the years, the Kugaths have seen many good times in farming paired with just as many bad. The year 1965 stands out to Harlan. He could not spread manure from New Year’s Eve until April. Then, the wet spring conditions did not let up, and Harlan could not seed oats until May 26 and nished planting corn June 27. The growing season was short as a freeze came in early September. “I remember there were three times that year the truck never came to pick up the milk because of the weather,” Harlan said. “Some people were paid what their milk would have been because it was never picked up.” But nothing could prepare the farmer for 2019. “I’ve never farmed through a year like this last one,” Harlan said. “And, what a shame we’ve been paid by government insurance.” The Kugaths completed harvest with a corn grain yield less than a typical year. Normally, Mike has enough bushels for himself and some to sell. “The alfalfa was tough too,” Harlan said. JENNIFER COYNE/DAIRY STAR


Jan Kugath prepares the milkhouse for evening milking Jan. 2 at the family’s dairy farm near Cologne, Minnesota.

Turn to KUGATHS | Page 11

Dairy Star • Saturday, January 11, 2020 • Page 11


ConƟnued from KUGATHS | Page 1

Help for the big farmers and none for the small


Harlan Kugath pushes up feed for the cows before evening milking Jan. 2 at the dairy near Cologne, Minnesota. “We never got the Harvestore full. We bought hay from three neighbors and we’re still going to be short.” Despite the challenges this past year brought, the Kugaths are grateful to still be milking cows. Harlan credits his father’s way of dairy farming for the farm’s stability. “We’re still making a living off the farm,” Harlan said. “Dad started in the ‘40s, and we’ve focused on feet and legs, and udders ever since. It’s denitely helped having a good herd to start with and the genetic ability is there.” As Harlan and Jan think about their family’s business – where it began, how its formed and where it will go with

Mike at the helm – they are pleased. They have worked with many people to maintain and improve the farm, and also created lasting friendships with others in the dairy community. While the couple certainly has an impressive career behind them, there is no slowing down for the Kugaths. “They always say if you take care of the cows, they’ll take care of you. And, that’s very true,” Harlan said. “I really can’t imagine not doing this. As long as I’m here, I’m not going to sit and look out the window at the farm.” As the sun sets on another day at the farm, Harlan and Jan are already looking forward to the next morning.

Tom Litkea New Lisbon, Wisconsin I am a struggling dairy farmer in Wisconsin. When I tell my story, some people will try to help. One such person told me to call the Wisconsin Farm Center in Madison at 1-800-942-2474. The center is a free resource that is supposed to help farmers through every type of scenario. According to the DATCP, “Farm Center staff can help sort out farm nancial options and offer a listening ear if you need someone to talk to about your farm situation.” As I proceeded to tell my story to a gentleman, he then asked about my nances. I told him that is why I called – I have none. He became rather rude and irritated and said he only helps the prosperous farmers. Then, he advised me to sell everything and get out now. He also scoffed at me for my milk production. Would a Farm Center staff consultant at this number really not know that cows do dry-up for calving? He told me to go see a doctor to determine whether I needed counseling and that I was only looking for money. I did nd out that the USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue hired the Farm Center to help the big and prosperous manage their money. And, once again, help for the big farmers and none for the small. It would not be a good situation for a suicidal person to call them looking for help. It surely would be the end for them.


Dairy Star Newspaper welcomes letters to the editor. Every letter for publication must be 500 words or less, contain the author’s signature, address and telephone number. We reserve the right to edit for clarity and brevity. Letters can be mailed to Dairy Star, Letter to Editor, 522 Sinclair Lewis Ave., Sauk Centre, MN 56378 or e-mail:

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Page 12 • Dairy Star • Saturday, January 11, 2020

What’s in store for 2020?

Markets suggest a good year ahead for U.S. dairy farmers By Stacey Smart

Now that the calendar has turned on one of the most trying years for agriculture, including the wettest spring on record since 1895, U.S. dairy farmers wonder if 2020 will bring more of the same or will things nally turn around? A look at the markets suggests the latter to be true. “With higher milk prices, trade Dan Basse deals and other AgResource Co. new opportunities on the table, data suggests a relatively good year lies ahead for the dairy market,” said Dan Basse. Basse is the president of AgResource Company and spoke during a Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin webinar, “What’s in store for 2020?” Dec. 18, 2019. Basse talked about the markets and what U.S. dairy farmers can expect in terms of prices, production and demand. The dairy industry saw some recovery in 2019 as Class III

milk prices rose to around $19 per hundredweight, even hitting above $20 in November and nally breaking through a four-year range after dropping substantially in 2014. Price lows for January and February are estimated to range from $16 to $16.50 cwt. Gaining higher milk prices into mid-2020 will require help from U.S. cheese exports. The demand for cheese exports was good in 2019, and Basse thinks that demand will expand in 2020. “There’s a chance for $21.50 milk in 2020,” Basse said. “But that’s the upside extreme. China is a big driver. The days of sub-$15 milk have passed but rallying values above $20 will be difcult without our friends in China. There is a potential for a sneaky bull market on improving world demand which could take Class III back to $21-$22.50 by quarter three.” Record domestic demand was driving the rise in U.S. milk prices in quarter three of 2019 combined with a decline in herd numbers and demand for exports overseas. World milk production is balanced for the rst time since 2015 which Basse nds encouraging for preventing a decline in price. “Future dairy price and prot gains depend on trade deals between the United States and China, passage of the (United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement) and (United States-European Union) trade resolution,” Basse said. Basse anticipates the United

States’ trade deal with China to pass in early January with a 30-45 day ramping up period before China starts purchasing U.S. agricultural goods. At the forefront will be soybeans and pork with dairy and cheese following suit. “We should start to see an increase in China’s demand for dairy after Valentine’s Day,” Basse said. The Chinese dairy herd and milk

“With higher milk prices, trade deals and other new opportunities on the table, data suggests a relatively good year lies ahead for the dairy market.” DAN BASSE, AGRESOURCE CO.

production are in sharp decline, giving the United States an opportunity to move dairy into China. China’s demand for powder and whey is on the rise. China is also in desperate need of protein, particularly pork, after being hit with African Swine Fever. The disease killed nearly 300 million of the country’s hogs, resulting in a 40% decline in pork production and 19% increase in food ination within China. Chinese dairy imports are ex-

pected to increase as a result, helping world dairy product prices. The United States’ share for pork and dairy exports is expected to rise starting in February or March. Poultry and sh consumption in China are increasing along with beef as China’s pork prices are at record levels. Basse said there is lots of money to be made taking U.S. protein into China. “Instead of spending $1 billion on U.S. ag dairy goods, I could see China spending three to four times that amount which would be massive in terms of what it means for our milk markets,” Basse said. There was a sharp decline in farm operations in the United States this year as the trend to fewer but larger farms continue. The average farm is now sized at 440 acres. The number of dairy herds in Wisconsin continues to decrease but is a trend Basse hopes will stabilize in 2020. The United States is experiencing a milk shortage in the East due mainly to herd liquidations and a milk surplus in the West. A strong demand for select beef started in November, and the best time to sell cull animals will be during the rst quarter of 2020, said Basse. “The U.S. beef outlook has turned bullish with cash cattle prices to recover to $126 to $130 per hundredweight for seasonal highs in February,” Basse said. Dairy farmers have faced a revenue drop of 50% since 2012 which Turn to MARKETS | Page 13

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has cut into balance sheets and operating capital. Debt-to-asset and debtto-equity ratios have risen as stress at the farm is at its highest levels since the mid-1980s. Balance sheets are getting stretched further as farm debt is at a record level and will need to be watched closely going into 2020. Market facilitation payments have saved the U.S. farm economy, but Basse warned not to expect these payments beyond January. He does not see them factoring into farm income once the China trade deal passes. “We have to look at our cost structure very carefully in the year ahead and keep trying to nd measures to make some adjustments to the downside,” Basse said. Despite last year’s unfavorable weather, U.S. corn yielded 167 bushels per acre which was down only marginally from years past. A normal growing season in 2020 could yield 180-plus bushels per acre of corn. However, cropped acres for 2019 were the lowest since the mid-1980s as 10 million acres of corn and 10 million acres of soybean were not planted in the United States. Basse predicts a big recovery this year in seeded acreage from April-June, Mother Nature allowing. Last year saw an 878 million bushel decline in soybean production – the largest on record. “We had a big drop in production yet the markets didn’t get away from us,” Basse said. “It was priced at 70 cents a bushel which helped in terms of managing feed costs for the farmer.” Basse is not worried about feed

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February 25-26, 2020 River’s Edge Convention Center, St. Cloud Tuesday, Feb. 25 - 9 am to 4 pm Wednesday, Feb. 26 - 8 am to 3 pm Special Guest: Minnesota Commissioner of Agriculture, Thom Petersen, will be speaking on Tuesday Free admission • Over 200 exhibitors in over 370 booths Free daily seminars • Topics on the Hour speakers

Make the Switch! Learn why so many growers are switching to Alforex™ varieties with Hi-Gest® alfalfa technology.

costs getting out of line. Yields of corn are up 22% in the United States and global production is up 27% with dramatic gains in Russia of 168% and 141% in Ukraine. U.S. feed prices will likely stay low or fall even farther following a December 2019/January corrective recovery, and forage prices will ease after the second quarter. Total U.S. dairy exports for 2019 were up 6% on value but down 7% on volume. Milk exports are bright, and U.S. cheese exports are in seasonal recovery. Butter trade for this country has been disappointing as a result of United States’ price premium since March 2019. Butter prices are looking to decline to $2.05 for a seasonal low in quarter one of 2020. European milk production will slow and stagnate into 2020 with only a 1% gain which gives the United States better export opportunities, particularly to southeast Asia. EU nonfat dry milk stocks are at their lowest levels since 2014. This means the EU will not be a signicant powder exporter in the near future. Skim powder has been a big driver as prices are up 53%, and United States non-fat milk powder prices are at a four-year high. Politics, economics and weather are three key variables for farmers to watch in 2020. In the meantime, improved dairy margins on the home front and promising possibilities on the export side of things have given dairy farmers reason to look to the future with hope and optimism.

1 Higher Digestibility Alforex™ varieties with Hi-Gest® alfalfa technology average 5-8% more leaves than conventional varieties which can result in the following: • 5-10% increased rate of fiber digestion* • 22% reduction in indigestible fiber at 240 hours (uNDF240)** • 3-5% more crude protein**

2 More Tonnage Alforex varieties with Hi-Gest alfalfa technology provide farms flexibility to adjust to aggressive harvest systems to maximize yield and quality, or to a more relaxed schedule focused on tonnage. Either way, growers put the odds of improved returns per acre and animal performance in their favor.

3 More Milk While management and feeding practices vary widely, it’s common for dairies feeding Alforex varieties with Hi-Gest alfalfa technology to report a positive production response from their cows when alfalfa makes up a higher percentage of the ration. Based on the increased rate of digestion, you could expect 2.5 lbs. more milk per cow, per day.1 And while not every producer experiences this level of improvement, some producers report even better results.

Ready to bring higher digestibility, more tonnage and more milk to your farm? Visit us at or call us at 1-800-824-8585. *The increased rate of fiber digestion, extent of digestion and crude protein data was developed from replicated research and on-farm testing. During the 2015 growing season at West Salem, WI and Woodland, CA, the following commercial dormant, semi-dormant and non-dormant alfalfa varieties were compared head-to-head with Alforex varieties with Hi-Gest alfalfa technology for rate of digestion, extent of digestion and percent crude protein: America’s Alfalfa Brand AmeriStand 427TQ; Croplan Brands LegenDairy XHD and Artesia Sunrise; Fertizona Brand Fertilac; S&W Seed Brands SW6330, SW7410 and SW10; and W-L Brands WL 319HQ and WL 354HQ. Also, during the 2015 growing season, 32 on-farm Alforex varieties with Hi-Gest alfalfa technology hay and silage samples were submitted to Rock River Laboratory, Inc., for forage analysis. The results for rate of digestion, extent of digestion and percent crude protein were averaged and compared to the 60-day and four-year running averages for alfalfa in the Rock River database which included approximately 1,700 alfalfa hay and 3,800 silage 60-day test results and 23,000 hay and 62,000 silage test results in the four-year average. **Crude protein=60-day running averages and uNDF240=four-year running average 1 Combs, D. 2015. Relationship of NDF digestibility to animal performance. Tri-State Dairy Nutrition Conference, 101-112. Retrieved from

™ ® Trademarks of Dow AgroSciences, DuPont or Pioneer, and their affiliated companies or their respective owners. © 2019 Corteva.

Page 14 • Dairy Star • Saturday, January 11, 2020

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What are you looking forward to most this year?

Tanya and Kevin Van Winkle Canistota, South Dakota McCook County 2,000 cows What are you looking forward to most this year? We are hoping for a more normal crop year with normal moisture levels. We also look forward to remaining healthy and happy. What is one goal you have set for your dairy for 2020, and how do you plan to achieve it? Our goal is to have more free time and spend more time with our family. We have a new management team in place and plan to work with them to make this happen. What are your predictions about this yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s dairy economy? I hope that milk prices will maintain at or above the breakeven level and allow us to continue making a proď&#x192;&#x17E;t. What are the greatest challenges you see in 2020 for your dairy and for the industry? The price of milk will be the biggest challenge. There are more and more cows in the world and ď&#x192;&#x17E;nding a market for all that milk might be a problem. Even so, I think thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s room for dairies of all sizes. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s also getting tougher and tougher to get good hired help and ď&#x192;&#x17E;ll all the positions on our farm. How have the past few years in the industry prepared you for the year ahead? We have always tried to be the best in every category and keep our costs down. We have learned that you have to do things cheaper in order to make money. This means keeping the cows pregnant and paying attention to all of the little details. What are three words to describe your feelings going into 2020? Optimistic, hopeful and prepared. We always try to be ready for next year. We have plenty of animals on hand to keep our barn full. We have a good workforce on our farm to get all the work done and plenty of moisture in the soil to get next springâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s crops off to a good start. Tell us about your farm. Our farm is a place where we can take care of our family and the families of our employees. We contribute to the local economy by purchasing crops from our neighbors. Our animals help add value to our neighborsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; crops by creating another market for the commodities they grow.

Jason French West Concord, Minnesota Dodge County 200 cows What are you looking forward to most this year? Being a grass farmer, I am looking forward to grazing season. Chores become easier when late April comes around. I also like making hay. What is one goal you have set for your dairy for 2020, and how do you plan to achieve it? Our goal is to spend as little as possible and focus on paying down debt. We are trying to reduce machinery, inventory and infrastructure. What are your predictions about this yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s dairy economy? There are too many cows, there is too much milk, and the dairy economy is not strong. Three years of low prices burn a lot of equity. What are the greatest challenges you see in 2020 for your dairy and for the industry? Last year was a very difď&#x192;&#x17E;cult year because of the worry. I worry that this weather might be a trend and continue into this year or years to come. Even more than the price, the weather got me down last year. It was hard getting planting done and making hay. It was the hardest year I have had. Because of the low prices, we will be catching up on machinery repairs and replacements. How have the past few years in the industry prepared you for the year ahead? The last three years have been tough for dairy farmers. Our ears have been trimmed with the low prices. It has taught me how money is being spent and to focus on paying down debt. We also do not carry inventory anymore. What are three words to describe your feelings going into 2020? Frustration, frugality and caution. Frustration and caution go together. The weather and low prices have made me frustrated, but they have also made me cautious on spending any money. I chose frugality because we are hunkering down to pay the bills and debt when we can and not pay for anything extra. Tell us about your farm. We have a grassbased, grain-free organic dairy farm that milks our herd once a day. It is a management decision we made in April 2019. We run 900 acres that are all seeded down. My wife, Tammy, is a special education teacher. We have ď&#x192;&#x17E;ve kids, with two of them, Luke and Brett, farming with me.

Jake and Allen Schreifels Cold Spring, Minnesota Stearns County 100 cows What are you looking forward to most this year? It not being 2019 anymore. It was a rough one. What is one goal you have set for your dairy for 2020, and how do you plan to achieve it? Digging out from mountains of bills and focusing on production to maximize milk price without adding cows. We purchase all our replacements so buying higher quality animals would be how we plan to achieve that. What are your predictions about this yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s dairy economy? We can predict that about as well as a weatherman. Optimism, staying positive and hopeful. What are the greatest challenges you see in 2020 for your dairy and for the industry? We take the challenges a day at a time. We would like to update some of our barns, but the budget says no, so we will do what everyone is doing: survive. The industry as a whole will be licking their wounds for quite some time after this. Farmers not having positive prices affects way more than farmers themselves. How have the past few years in the industry prepared you for the year ahead? We learned we had to look at our so-called business side of the operation. We started working with a farm business manager which has helped. That will help us into the future. What are three words to describe your feelings going into 2020? Pain, hopeful and happiness. The pains of 2019 will be felt for a while. Wet weather, harvest delays, low prices. Never have we ever been so happy to tear December off the calendar. Hopeful for the future and what nicer prices bring. Happiness is always our main focus so that is what we are working for. Tell us about your farm. We are a diversiď&#x192;&#x17E;ed operation. Along with milking cows, we ď&#x192;&#x17E;nish steers, raise feeder steers, cash crop and operate a egg laying chicken barn. Turn to OUR SIDE | Page 16

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Page 16 • Dairy Star • Saturday, January 11, 2020

ConƟnued from OUR SIDE | Page 15 Alicia Thurk Hiebert Browerville, Minnesota Todd County 40 cows What are you looking forward to most this year? We don’t have any big plans or events scheduled for this year. We are most looking forward to making the nal payment on a couple pieces of equipment. What is one goal you have set for your dairy for 2020, and how do you plan to achieve it? My goal is to improve the pregnancy rate. I plan to do this by being more aggressive with my shot program. What are your predictions about this year’s dairy economy? 2020 is looking to be better than the last few years for milk price. However, I don’t foresee cattle prices rebounding much. What are the greatest challenges you see in 2020 for your dairy and for the industry? For our dairy, we will have the challenge of being a little short on corn silage. We are planning to put in some early maturing silage corn, hoping it will be able to ferment a bit before we run out of this year’s crop. For the industry, there will be the continued challenge of farms selling out and industry consolidation. Now with a second large milk processor ling bankruptcy, there will also be ripples from that felt throughout the industry. How have the past few years in the industry prepared you for the year ahead? The past few years have made it necessary to tighten our belts a bit and really focus on nances which has made us better business managers. What are three words to describe your feelings going into 2020? Hopeful. After the extremely difcult spring planting and fall harvesting last year, we are hopeful that 2020 will be less challenging. Eager. We are ready for a new year. Determined. We are determined to make this an all-around better and more protable year for our farm. Tell us about your farm. We have a 40-cow dairy with Holsteins, Jerseys and the occasional Milking Shorthorn. We farm approximately 800 acres. We purchased our current farm in 2016. My husband, Jared, is also the agronomy manager at ProAg Cooperative in Clarissa.

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DairySt r Milk Break

Dave Daniels Brighton, Wisconsin Kenosha County 575 cows What are you looking forward to most this year? In Wisconsin, the Legislature has approved the Dairy Innovation Hub. This is a state-supported effort to expand research and teaching at the state’s three agricultural colleges with the goal of developing new technologies and approaches to strengthen the dairy industry and the communities that depend on them. I’m a member of the industry council that will be choosing and monitoring proposals from academia to accomplish this. What is one goal you have set for your dairy for 2020, and how do you plan to achieve it? To become a bit more diversied within agriculture. I am looking at a solar project that would benet the farm on the expense side. Another project would be to look at growing industrial hemp on some acres. What are your predictions about this year’s dairy economy? There will be some pressure on prices for the rst half of 2020. The second half could be like 2019 or a little better. Not sure if we’ll see a $20 Class III price though. What are the greatest challenges you see in 2020 for your dairy and for the industry? Our farm has some non-family employees. That is a challenge to keep and hire people who would work with cows. We have a bonus structure that helps. Living in an urban county, there is a lot of competition for labor. Also, the dairy industry is in a global marketplace. This means things that happen half a world away could affect our industry. How have the past few years in the industry prepared you for the year ahead? Continuing to focus on the expense side of our ledger is making our farm more competitive for the future. We are also looking at pieces of the farm enterprise that need more attention. Do we really need all those heifer calves for replacements? What are three words to describe your feelings going into 2020? Do our part. When your milk leaves your door, it is only the beginning. It will be processed by someone into many products. We still need to explain to our neighbors, cousins and friends what makes what you produce such a healthy and quality product. The story needs to be told because social media doesn’t have it right. Tell us about your farm. Mighty Grand Dairy is a multigenerational dairy farm that was formed when three neighbors combined our assets and grew our dairy business. We have 575 Holstein cows and grow our own replacements. We farm 1,125 acres of alfalfa, corn, wheat and winter forages. We also use cover crops where needed. Our milk is sold to Gran’de Cheese Company to be made into various Italian cheeses.



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Thanks farmers for what you do!

For more information, contact: Dairy Pricing Association, Inc. W15311 Franklin Road, Taylor, WI 54659 Phone: (715) 284-2590 • Fax: (715) 284-2591 Email:

Trista Kenealy Cadott, Wisconsin Chippewa County 500 cows What are you looking forward to most this year? Honestly, I’m looking forward to new beginnings. Everyone in the industry has had a tough go-around these last few years. Others would agree that 2019 was especially tough. What is one goal you have set for your dairy for 2020, and how do you plan to achieve it? To strive to be better. It doesn’t matter if its better with organizing my bookwork, calf management or whatever it may be. In order to be successful, we need to make sure we are utilizing our resources to the maximum benet while keeping our environment and animals safe. You need to keep good lines of communication not only with your family and employees but also your nutritionists, veterinarian, banker, agronomists, nancial consultants, accountants and whomever you work with to keep your operation running smooth. Those lines of communication are an integral part of successful operations. What are your predictions about this year’s dairy economy? I am optimistic the prices for the products we produce are going to increase and are going to stay up. After this many years at the lows we’ve had, things need to start turning around and looking up. What are the greatest challenges you see in 2020 for your dairy and for the industry? For our dairy and everyone else, we’re still going to have our challenges climbing out of our debts to get into more comfortable nancial positions. This year will be rough with the feed shortages due to 2019’s weather. Another challenge is going to be putting a more positive light on the dairy industry. With all the negativity and misinformation out there, it is extremely frustrating for us as producers to be heard and get our side of the story out there. How have the past few years in the industry prepared you for the year ahead? Not growing up in the dairy industry, I have had quite an education. Each year has been different, and I’ve learned to expect the unexpected and to not be surprised by anything anymore. I’ve also learned that communication is huge with navigating this volatile industry. What are three words to describe your feelings going into 2020? Optimistic, hopeful and resilient. After the last few difcult years, I am optimistic and hopeful milk and commodity prices are going to increase, and we will start to see more of that light at the end of the tunnel. As for resilient, you have to be in order to want to keep living this lifestyle. Tell us about your farm. We believe the farm was originally started around 1912 by my husband’s great-grandfather, so it’s been around a while. It has changed with new facilities and expansions, the latest one being in 2015. With my father-in-law, husband and now our two young sons, we have the third, fourth and fth generations living and working on the dairy. We milk 500 cows and farm roughly 1,000 acres that all goes for feed. We raise our own heifer calves and a few bull calves.

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Dairy Star • Saturday, January 11, 2020 • Page 17

As a dairyman, are you looking to improve the way your fresh cows transition, take off, peak and breed back? Are you looking to improve rumen health, rumen function, overall health, digestion, feed efficiency, reproduction and YOUR BOTTOM LINE??? If so, then..


RECAL probioƟcs have been developed over a 20-year period that was originally started by a farmer from Indiana. Through on farm tesƟng and the combined eīorts of one of the top microbiologists and one of the top dairy veterinarians in this Įeld, the RECAL poduct has become what it is today. It is a unique combinaƟon of various strains of beneĮcial bacteria, enzymes, and a speciĮc type of concentrated yeast. It was designed to establish and rapidly expand a superior rumen populaƟon heavily weighted toward FIBER digesƟon and to produce high levels of B-vitamins mainly B-12. Not all probioƟcs are the same. There are hundreds of various strains and combinaƟons.


“In 2016 I saw an adverƟsement about RECAL Microbials on the Dairy Agenda Today website. I checked out the RECAL Microbials website and saw a tesƟmonial from another dairyman that I knew. I called that dairyman and talked to him about the RECAL. He highly recommended the product and told me to get in touch with Jamie Troxel of RECAL Microbials. I called Jamie and we discussed RECAL and the next week Jamie came to my farm to talk more about the products. Jamie wanted to look at my raƟon, cows, forages, and cow manure. He also wanted to hear of any issues I was having with the cows. Jamie wanted to take a look at these things because he said he sees the RECAL working diīerently on diīerent farms, not all farms are the same. AŌer Jamie asked me quesƟons about reproducƟon, producƟon, and dry maƩer intake he looked at the raƟon, the forages, the cows and the manure. He advised me that he was sure I was dealing with a mycotoxin issue. Grady Auer The cows weren’t milking like they should, I wasn’t seeing heats like I (920) 538-1183 should, reproducƟon wasn’t where it should have been and manure was very inconsistent and not digested very well besides having some bloody gut issues. I was already feeding a well known toxin binder. Jamie gave me a proposal. He would give me enough RECAL Plus for 30 days and if at the end of that 30 days I didn’t like it, I didn’t have to pay for it. He also told me what to watch for and what to expect the cows to do. He was very conĮdent in the product. He menƟoned I could pull yeast and the toxin binder out if I wanted to. I thought what the heck, I didn’t have anything to lose since the binder didn’t seem to be working, so I took him up on this oīer. The day we started the RECAL Plus Jamie pulled a TMR sample to be sent to Rock River Lab to be tested for mycotoxins and to have a complete nutriƟonal analysis done. The nutriƟonal analysis came back very close to what was on paper, but the vomitoxin level was 3.3 ppm and the T-2 toxin was 134 ppm. Both were high levels. He also performed manure screenings the day we started the product and then came back ten days later and performed the manure screenings again from the same exact cows. WOW!!! What a diīerence. Everything Jamie told me to watch for I saw. Within one week I was sold on the RECAL Plus. Milk went up, DMI went up and then dropped back oī a liƩle lower then when we started. I started seeing much stronger heats, much more consistent manure and there was a huge diīerence in manure screenings. You could see a big diīerence in ruminaƟon as well with the use of my ruminaƟon meters. AŌer we started pregnancy checking cows that had been on the RECAL Plus from the Ɵme of inseminaƟon, my concepƟon rate started going up, a huge improvement! My vet even noƟced that we were geƫng bigger CL’s which is a sign of healthier cows and reproducƟon system. The bigger the CL, the beƩer. About January 2017 I switched to diīerent corn silage and I was seeing more corn in the manure. I talked to Jamie about that. He said we could try the RECAL Plus SS. It was diīerent than the RECAL Plus and was a Įber and starch digester. So we tried it and in the Įrst week the cows went up three pounds of milk and intakes stayed the same. I was watching my ruminaƟon meters and the ruminaƟon went up 15% the day aŌer I started the RECAL Plus SS and has held. My %BF has also gone up as well. In 2019 I then switched back to the RECAL Plus because I didn’t need the starch digesƟon. We milk about 500 cows near New London, WI. I highly recommend every dairyman to feed the RECAL Plus or the RECAL Plus SS.

We just added RECAL Pro to our probioƟc line. So, if you are looking to improve your boƩom line, get RECAL!!! For less than $0.08 /cow/day investment, you will see a great return on your investment.

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Page 18 • Dairy Star • Saturday, January 11, 2020

Top Performers

Consistency drives cow performance on Mehrwerth dairy Mitchell Mehrwerth Sauk Rapids, Minnesota Benton County 55 cows

have not tried three times a day milking nor do I foresee trying it in the near future.

What is your current herd average, butterfat and protein? My current herd average is 26,660 pounds with a 4.5% butterfat and a 3.5% protein. How many times a day do you milk? If you do not milk 3X a day, have you tried it in the past? I milk twice a day. I

Do you contract your milk? Has it been successful for you? I do not contract my milk. Describe your housing and milking facility. The milk cows are housed in a 58-stall sand bedded freestall barn. Turn to MEHRWORTH | Page 20



This 6-year-old cow is one Mitchell Mehrwerth models his herd aŌer. He breeds the top 5% of his herd to sires with high type and producƟon, followed by 45% of his herd to sires for high producƟon, DWP$, net merit and sire concepƟon.

Mitchell Mehrwerth milks 55 cows on a rented farmsite in Benton County near Sauk Rapids, Minnesota. Mehrwerth’s rolling herd average is 26,660 pounds, which he aƩributes to consistent rouƟnes on the farm and in the parlor.

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Dairy Star • Saturday, January 11, 2020 • Page 19

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LINGEN DAIRY, The Lingen Family BALATON, MINNESOTA 400 cows, 87 lbs/cow/day 5.2F SCC 65 to 70,000 “The Udder Comfort™ pre-fresh groups came in with udders full of milk, but so soft, no edema. We saw an average of 2 pounds more milk from those 2-yr-olds at around 14 DIM. Robot attachments are faster, and robot fetch time on first lactations was cut by 70%. That’s huge! By softening them right into calving, udders went through fewer changes in the first 10 days after calving, and it took out that belly edema, making the robots more efficient,” Josh Lingen reports. At Lingen Dairy, Balaton, Minnesota, 240 cows milk robotically plus 100 through the parlor, making 87 pounds of 5.2 fat milk. They used Udder Comfort routinely after calving for 5 years. Early on, “we saw the results in quality and performance with SCC 100 to 150,000,” Josh explains. But he wanted to see how heifers would respond to pre-fresh applications. “We used the Udder Comfort Backpack Sprayer to do pre-fresh 2-yr-old groups in headlocks 1x/day for a week before calving. Our SCC dropped to 70,000 in both the robot and parlor groups. But the biggest thing is how it reduced fetching and improved robot attachment times. I absolutely love this product and the backpack!”

Quality Udders Make Quality Milk To locate a distributor and learn more about the new Backpack Sprayer, call 1.888.773.7153 @uddercomfort For external application to the udder only, after milking, as an essential component of udder management. Always wash and dry teats thoroughly before milking.

Page 20 • Dairy Star • Saturday, January 11, 2020

ConƟnued from MEHRWORTH | Page 18

The stalls are bedded once a week and raked multiple times a week. They are milked in a double-4 step-up parlor in a retrotted barn. Due to restrictions in the barn, a wash-inplace milking system is not an option. The dry cows are housed in a converted freestall to bedded pack building. What is your herd health program? Every animal on the farm gets vaccinated starting at birth with Inforce 3 and calf guard. At weaning, another dose of Inforce 3 is administered. At 6 months old, animals get a dose of Ultrabac 8 and Bovi-Shield Gold 5 then Bovi-Shield Gold 5 again at breeding age. All cows are vaccinated 30 days after calving with Bovi-Shield Gold FP5 L5 and Ultrabac 8. Pregnancy herd checks occur once a month, alternating between ultrasound and milk samples based on number of animals to check and cows’ health. I will diagnose and treat cows to the best of my knowledge and consult with the veterinarian if further action is needed. I estimate cost of treatment and procedure before any action is taken so I can value my return on production. Less than 5% of milk cows will be treated and milk discarded due to possibility of accidental milk contamination. What does your dry cow and transition program consist

of? One weak spot of my dairy is transition cows. We are constantly trying new things to ease calving and perfect the transition process. After three years, the program works but can still use improvement. Dry cows are fed free choice grass hay, silage and a protein mix with free choice mineral. At calving, the calf is separated within the hour, and the cow is milked. The cows will then get rumen boluses, aspirin, and either BoviKalc or Transition calcium bolus. They then join the milk cows in the freestall. On day three, they get a dose of Dexamethasone. They are monitored until the cow looks and acts completely healthy and is eating well. What is the composition of your ration? What has been one of your most recent changes that has been successful for you? My ration includes wheat straw, corn silage, dry hay, rolled ne corn, a protein blend and liquid molasses. One recent change we did was a small but important change. We added mold inhibitors and prohibitor. Knowing how wet this year was for all crops and being informed by local farmers in the past years about watching mold levels, I knew action should be taken. According to studies, 97% of corn silage samples across 18 states tested positive for at least one Mycotoxin. Trying to stay ahead and beat any mold,


Mitchell Mehrwerth examines his raƟon Jan. 7 at the farm in Sauk Rapids, Minnesota. Mehrwerth recently added mold inhibitors and prohibitors to his raƟon to control mold levels because of how wet the past year was. we added Anco FIT (ADM product) into my protein mix and Fresh Guard (Westway Feeds product) into my molasses. By doing that, the cows actually increased milk by a couple pounds, proving that I was having a small problem with mold. Breeding also improved. Through the years you have

been farming, what change has created the biggest jump in your herd average? Consistency. Consistency in feed times, milking times, bedding, feed, the ration mix, everything. Cows, like us, are creatures of habit. The more you can keep everything the same, the better the cows will perform for you. Farming by yourself

makes some of this difcult at times, and the milk production, and especially components, will show a decrease. What role does genetics play in your production level and what is your breeding proTurn to MEHRWORTH | Page 22



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Dairy Star • Saturday, January 11, 2020 • Page 21

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4 JD 1775NT, ‘18, 16R30”, Flex Fold, #150736........................$169,000 4 JD 1760, ‘13, 12R30”,Flex Fold, 3.0 Bushel hopper, #156200 . $52,500 2 JD DB60, ‘14, 24R30”, Flex Fold, Central Fill System, #156907...............................................................................$159,000 2 JD 1770NT CCS, ‘13, 16R30”, Wing Fold, #160931 ................ $88,900 10 JD 1770NT, ‘14, 16R30” Flex Fold, Row Command, #156928 $89,900 17 JD 1765, ‘15, 12R30”, Flex Fold, 1.6 Bu., #155243 ................. $54,500 17 JD 1770NT, ‘07, 16R30”, Flex Fold, #161901......................... $39,900 7 White 6322, #156848 .......................................................... $18,900 7 JD DB66, ‘18, 36R22”, Flex Fold, #160767 ...........................$369,500 7 JD 7000, 6R30”, 1.6 Bu. hopper; #161201 .............................. $4,900 7 JD DB66, ‘18, 36R22”, Flex Fold, #161533 ...........................$315,400 1 JD DB60, ‘13, 24R30”, Flex Fold, #161245............................$154,000 16 JD DB60, ‘14, 24R30”, Flex Fold, #160470 ...........................$169,500 16 JD 1775NT, ‘17, 24R30”, Wing Fold, #160204 ......................$262,900 5 JD 1770, ‘98, 16R30”, Flex Fold, 1.6 Bu. hopper, #159037 ..... $20,900 5 JD 1790, ‘12, 31R15”, Flex Fold, Metering System, #161182 . $89,000 8 JD 1765, ‘18, 12R30”, Flex Fold, 3.0 Bu. hopper, #161082 ..... $75,900 14 JD 1780, ‘99, 24R22”, Flex Fold, 3.0 Bushel hopper, #155446 $33,500 14 JD DB66, ‘18, 36R22”, Flex Fold, #161783............................$279,500 17 JD 7300, ‘90, 12R30”, Wing Fold, 3.0 Bu. hopper, #157581 ..... $8,500 16 White 6722, 16R22”, Wing Fold, 1.6 Bu. hopper, #157535 ... $11,900

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5 JD 1730, ‘98, 12R22”, #159899............................................. $16,000 14 Moore Built 24R22”, 3.0 Bu. hopper, #159607 ................... $27,900 14 JD 7200, 24R22”, #159126 .................................................... $14,900 14 JD 1725, ‘18, 16R30”, Wing Fold, #164717 ..........................$184,000 3 JD 1710, 24R22”, Wing Fold, 1.6 Bu hopper, #164780 ........... $42,900

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Page 22 • Dairy Star • Saturday, January 11, 2020


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gram? When I started three years ago, I bought cows from herds that excel in production and selecting high end sires. It works so well for them that I try to shadow how they breed. I believe genetics plays about a 40% role in production, just under nutrition. I am still working on a good breeding schedule to stretch calvings out throughout the year so my breeding is different. However, what doesn’t change is sire selection. The top 5% of my herd is bred to elite genetics that combines high type and production. The next 45% of the herd is bred to sires with high milk production, DWP$, net merit and sire conception rates. The other 50% of the herd is bred to beef. Depending on the cow, they either go on a synch program at 50 days or after 60 days are bred on natural heat. I try a new synch program almost every time to see which program works the best. What type of improvements would you like to make that would increase your rolling herd average even higher? I believe focusing on the correct matings for cows is key to higher production. I also am always willing to try new feed products and ingredients to maximize production. As mentioned before, nding the perfect transition program would get cows off and running right away to produce more milk and decrease possible treatments and sickness. Something we can’t control but would increase the herd average is better weather. My herd average dropped over 2,000 pounds since last year due to poor feed quality so either nding protable ingredient replacements or better corn variety selection in case another year like this year occurs.


ConƟnued from MEHRWORTH | Page 20

Farm Systems Melrose, MN 320-256-3276 Watertown, SD 605-886-7401 Sioux Falls, SD 800-284-0015 S&S Dairy System LLC St. Charles, MN 507-932-4288 Professional Dairy Systems Wadena, MN 218-632-5416

is a registered trademark of Tetra Laval Holdings & Finance S.A. and “DeLaval” is a registered trade/servicemark of DeLaval Holding AB © 2020 DeLaval Inc. DeLaval, 11100 North Congress Avenue, Kansas City, Missouri 64153-1296. All facts and figures are the result of data collected on test farms and from scientific studies. Results may vary and are not guaranteed.

List three management strategies that has kept you protable. Consistency is by far No. 1. By staying consistent, the cows will nd their routine and schedule which makes them more relaxed and able to maximize production. Another strategy is running numbers and values on everything. Everything is money driven; to maximize prot you need to know the value of everything and what your return on investment is whether it is cattle, a feed ingredient or a piece of equipment. There were a few things I was doing when I started that was brought to my attention by farmers that questioned if I was actually making money. If I wasn’t, I should reconsider how I do it to maximize prot. Finally, listen to the advice given to you by farmers, nutritionists, local co-op or any people in the agriculture industry. It may be simple but it’s extremely important. We’re all in this together, and most people or companies have your best interest in mind. They understand when milk prices are low or times are hard. Although some things may cost money, they are looking for you to maximize prots and production because what makes you look good, makes them look good. What would you say are the three most important factors for you that helped you attain your current herd average? Finding the right ingredients for my ration and cows. What may work for a different farm, might not work on my farm. Listen. My nutritionist, local co-op and farmers are always trying to push my herd and maximize prot and production. I describe it as they lay all the puzzle pieces out for me, and all I have to do is put the puzzle together. Cow comfort and sanitation. Making sure the sand in the stalls is at comfort level for the cows is important. It also helps control mastitis are ups which helps with somatic cell count. I make sure when the cows come into the parlor, they are prepped properly. After milking, I spray the bottom of the teat end, which is the most important part of the teat, and then nish spraying the rest of the teat. I use spray bottles instead of dipping and believe it lowers the spread of possible contamination from cow to cow. Tell us about your farm. I rent the farm site and acres. I farm 35 acres total that all consists of corn acres for silage. All bull calves are sold, and all other crops are purchased. My dad, Rick, helps with Sunday morning milking and whenever he gets time away from his full-time job. My brother, Rob, helps at least one night a week with milking after his full-time job. Most things done on my farm were at the advice of other farmers and people in the industry since they have the experience I lack. I try to use their strengths where my weaknesses are.

Dairy Star â&#x20AC;˘ Saturday, January 11, 2020 â&#x20AC;˘ Page 23

Grant program boosts producersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; events Midwest Dairy offers money for promotion By Krista Kuzma

WELCH, Minn. â&#x20AC;&#x201C; If Minnesota dairy farmers have ideas for promotional events, there is money available to help. Up to $3,000 for a single project is available to checkoff paying dairy farmers through the Undeniably Dairy Grant program through Midwest Dairy. Shannon Seifert, Minnesota farm relations manager for Midwest Dairy, presented about the grant program during the Minnesota Milk Dairy Conference and Expo Dec. 3, 2019, in Welch. Seifert also moderated the round table of ď&#x192;&#x17E;ve dairy farmers who explained four projects completed with the aid of the Undeniably Dairy Grant. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Last year (2018) was the ď&#x192;&#x17E;rst year we had this program,â&#x20AC;? Seifert said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re super excited about it because it allows us the opportunity to use checkoff dollars at a local level and allows us to do promotions in unique ways and target speciď&#x192;&#x17E;c audiences.â&#x20AC;? The ď&#x192;&#x17E;rst year funded 65 applications, with 22 of them happening on farms. Two consumers were reached for every $1 spent on the program. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Our goal is to bring dairy to unexpected places,â&#x20AC;? Seifert said. Dairy farmers and county ADA


Dairy producers â&#x20AC;&#x201C; (from leĹ&#x152;) Mindi Arendt, Angie Tauer, Amanda Hartung, Tracy Braun and Emily Hanson â&#x20AC;&#x201C; share their dairy promoĆ&#x;on events Midwest Dairy helped sponsor through the Undeniably Dairy Grant program during a panel Dec. 3 at the Minnesota Milk Dairy Conference and Expo in Welch, Minnesota. groups can apply for this grant along with agricultural organizations such as 4-H and FFA; however, priority is given to dairy farmers. Requirements for the event to be eligible for the grant include focusing on an audience of youth or urban consumers removed from agriculture. â&#x20AC;&#x153;These projects donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have to be big and grand,â&#x20AC;? Seifert said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;They can be smaller too.â&#x20AC;? The grant replaces Minnesotaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s

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Page 24 • Dairy Star • Saturday, January 11, 2020

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class to teach teenagers about agriculture, offering a program for the class in the spring and the fall. “Our farm does kindergarten tours every year, but we were trying to gure out a way to reach teenagers,” Arendt said. The spring class had a week-long event that included an in-classroom presentation of a local beef farm, a virtual tour of a local dairy farm, a visit from the local locker with a half beef carcass to explain cuts of beef, a demonstration from a chef to show how to cook with dairy and beef, and a cookoff between the students. The fall class included a eld trip to a local locker, a beef farm, a dairy farm and a meal with every aspect explained in detail. Angie Tauer, a dairy farmer and librarian from Sleepy Eye, created the Brown County Ag Literacy Initiative. It brought dairy and agriculture books to every school and city library in the

“Sometimes, farmers do a project on their own and just need a couple hundred dollars, this is a great way to apply for money.” SHANNON SEIFERT, MIDWEST DAIRY

county along with dairy-related events at the library where Tauer works. “There aren’t a lot of good quality children books out there that tell the story of the farm. … They’re basically all old and dated,” Tauer said.

Dairy Star • Saturday, January 11, 2020 • Page 25

Amanda Hartung, a dairy farmer from Freeport, and her family hosted the Catholic Diocese of St. Cloud’s Rural Life Celebration with Mass with the bishop and a lunch. “We wanted to keep a dairy focus to make it a promotional event,” Hartung said. “We wanted to make sure it was a positive experience for anyone who came and put a good face out for our fellow farmers to make sure we have the good reputation we deserve.” The mother, daughter duo of Tracy Braun and Emily Hanson, dairy farmers from Cologne, shared about the bulk milk dispensers they helped to install in their school district. The bulk dispensers helped reduce district-wide waste of milk from 20 gallons per day to 2 gallons. Likewise, the district no longer has 500,000 cartons from milk in the garbage every day. “It denitely was not easy, but it was successful,” Braun said about the $26,000 investment. Other projects included tours on the farm for elementary school students, hosting breakfast on the farm, bringing a calf to school, classroom visits, a booth at a women’s health fair, working with a baseball team to host a dairy night, and a beer and cheese tasting at a brewery, among others. Overall, Seifert said the projects have all been successful. “It’s inspiring innovation in checkoff, and it’s helping farmers think creatively,” Seifert said. “With the more target focus towards kids and the urban consumer, it’s helping them (dairy farmers) rethink who are they doing their work for and where are they best using their time in addition to their money.”

Applications being accepted for MARL Class XI

MARL is a dynamic two-year educational experience featuring nine two- and three-day in-state seminars, a six-day national study seminar in Washington, D.C., and a 10- to 14-day international study seminar. Its mission is to develop the skills of Minnesota’s agricultural and rural leaders so they may maximize their impact and effectiveness in local, state, national and international arenas. Up to 30 participants will be selected for Class XI, said Executive Director Olga Reuvekamp. Applications will be accepted through April 24, 2020. The rst Class XI session will be in November 23-24, 2020, in OLGA REUVEKAMP, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR St. Cloud. Reuvekamp said the application form, instructions and answers to frequently asked questions are available online at Interested individuals can join special webinars, and may contact Reuvekamp at: 507-537-6430; Olga. The MARL curriculum is designed to have immediate applicability for active leaders. Each session features a mix of leadership study, personal skill-building, and location-related subject matter. A majority of each class’ makeup is agricultural producers, and others are professionals involved in rural, and ag-related organizations. The seminar calendar is designed to accommodate the busy schedules of participants. Most of the activities occur over the winter months. “MARL is celebrating its 20th year, and people have become familiar with what the program is about. The state is large and there are very diverse types of agriculture in different regions,” she said. “As the MARL program has matured, the interest has increased. We welcome applications from all corners of the state for this life-changing opportunity.”

“We welcome applications from all corners of the state for this life-changing opportunity.”

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Page 26 • Dairy Star • Saturday, January 11, 2020

Informational meetings to explain ARC/PLC programs

With the 2018 farm bill comes the opportunity to sign-up for the Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage programs. Informational meetings are being held in conjunction with Minnesota Extension Service and explaining the provisions of the 201920 ARC/PLC programs. The FSA News & Notes following Minnesota sites have been selected to host these meetings within the state: - Jan. 13, 2 p.m., Maynard Event Center, Maynard. - Jan. 13, 10 a.m., Max’s Grill, Olivia. - Jan. 14, 2 p.m., American Legion, Wheaton. - Jan. 14, 9 a.m., Grace Lutheran Church, Breckenridge. By Ryan Brunn - Jan. 16, 9 a.m., Nobles County Government Building, Stearns Co. Exec. Dir. Worthington. - Jan. 17, 1 p.m., Lincoln Elementary School auditorium, Ivanhoe. - Jan. 17, 2 p.m., Holiday Inn, Alexandria. - Jan 17, 9 a.m., Clinton Memorial Building, Clinton. - Jan. 21, 9 a.m., Paynesville American Legion, Paynesville. - Jan. 23, 2 p.m., Freeborn County Fairgrounds, Albert Lea. - Jan. 23, 10 a.m., Marshall YMCA, Marshall. - Jan. 23, 10 a.m., Steele County Community Center, Owatonna. - Jan. 24, 9 a.m., Rockford Township Hall, Buffalo. - Jan. 24, 9 a.m., Henry’s Catering and Event Center, Foley. - Jan. 27, 10 a.m., Mabel Community Center, Mabel. - Jan. 27, 2 p.m., RCC Heintz Center Commons, Rochester. - Jan. 30, 2 p.m., Carlton County Transportation Department, Carlton. - Jan. 30, 9 a.m., Chisago Township Laketown Hall, Lindstrom. - Jan. 31, 9 a.m., Land Services Building, Meeting Room 1-2, Brainerd. Signup is currently taking place with a number of producers already having made their program selection. If farm operators understand program options, there is no reason not to enroll soon. Attending a meeting is not required but provides explanation of program rules and options. If you are unable to attend a meeting, there is a website training available at The signup deadline for the 2019 program is March 15. The Livestock Indemnity Program provides assistance to eligible producers for livestock deaths in excess of normal mortality caused by adverse weather, disease and attacks by animals reintroduced into the wild by the federal government or protected by federal law. LIP compensates livestock owners and contract growers for livestock death losses in excess of normal mortality due to adverse weather, including losses due to hurricanes, oods, blizzards, wildres, extreme heat or extreme cold. For disease losses, FSA county committees can accept veterinarian certications that livestock deaths were directly related to adverse weather and unpreventable through good animal husbandry and management. For 2019 and 2020 livestock losses, eligible livestock owners must le a notice within 30 calendar days of when the loss is rst apparent. Participants must provide the following supporting documentation to a FSA ofce no later than 60 calendar days after the end of the calendar year in which the eligible loss condition occurred. Producers are reminded to keep updated livestock inventory records. These records are necessary in the event of a natural disaster: proof of death documentation, copy of grower’s contracts and proof of normal mortality documentation. The United States Department of Agriculture has established normal mortality rates for each type and weight range of eligible livestock. These established percentages reect losses that are considered expected or typical under normal conditions. In addition to ling a notice of loss, producers must also submit an application for payment by March 1 for 2019 losses and March 1, 2021, for losses that occur in 2020. Additional information about LIP is available at a FSA ofce or at http:// Farm Service Agency is an Equal Opportunity Lender. Complaints about discrimination should be sent to: Secretary of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. 20250. Visit the Farm Service Agency Web site at: for necessary application forms and updates on USDA programs.

Dairy ts into your new year’s goals

Dairy Star • Saturday, January 11, 2020 • Page 27

It is that time of year – for resolutions; that moment when you look at yourself and realize that maybe there could be a few improvements. You decide to manage your money better, to exercise more, to lose weight, to eat healthier and more. The options are truly endless. With a resolution in hand you wade straight into January with the best of intentions. This time you are going to succeed. Unfortunately for most people, that resolution is beginning On the Road with to fade by the time January ends. Often Princess Kay the resolution to spend 25% less money, lose 15 pounds or to exercise every day comes up as unrealistic. The experts tell us we should make small, realistic goals, but who actually does that? In spite of ourselves, the experts are right. So how do you make a realistic goal you can By Amy Kyllo actually reach? You 66th Princess Kay of the nd something you Milky Way actually enjoy that ts the description of your goal. Dairy is something that can cause many people’s resolutions to go from being mere goals to actual reality. For those who look to tighten their budgets after a, perhaps, disastrous December, dairy helps to t that goal. Everyone needs to eat, and dairy is an extremely economical, nutrient packed food for people to buy thus helping them in their budget needs. As a college student, dairy is always part of my grocery run. And, if you knew what a tightwad I am that means something. Perhaps someone is looking to exercise more. Chocolate milk as a post-workout recovery drink is proven to help in muscle gains and weight loss. Plus, chocolate milk is something to look forward to. Is there any better way to push yourself to work hard? For those looking to eat healthier, dairy foods are an easy and tasty choice. Dairy has a delicious option for anyone’s taste buds. Find a product you enjoy. Plus, if weight loss is part of your goal, then dairy ts into that as well. The protein found in dairy foods helps you to feel full so you are not tempted to snack needlessly. I am so convinced that dairy is a vital part of people’s success that I want everyone to have access to it. As part of that goal, in December, I was invited to be a celebrity bell ringer for the Salvation Army at the Mall of America. Dairy farmers care about the health and well-being of our communities, and this was a wonderful opportunity to visit with people about the importance of contributing to their community. The Salvation Army helps those in need in many ways such as providing food and shelter. Everyone deserves the chance to have dairy as a part of their lives. In December, I also donated dairy foods to my local food shelf. Dairy foods are the most requested and least donated item to food shelves.

Perhaps donating dairy to your local food pantry is Princess Kay helps people understand the your resolution. dedication of dairy farmers to wholesome and As dairy farmers, we already incorporate dairy into nutritious food, and the way milk is produced. all aspects of our lives. You are possibly wondering Princess Kay does many school presentations, what use is this article to me? You probably have a represents dairy farmers at the Fuel Up To Play friend, neighbor or colleague 6 events that are held in 60 who needs to hear all the conjunction with the We W all ll stand d i in a special i l great aspects of dairy. Or, Minnesota Vikings, and maybe you know someone in position to help others fit is very active during June need who you can help. We Dairy Month sharing dairy into their life and goals. all stand in a special position the importance of dairy to help others t dairy into ffarming and dairy foods. their life and goals. Take the opportunity to hear, help and encourage. You can Amy grew up in Byron, MN living and working on her family’s dairy farm. She is a senior at the Free make a difference. Whose life can you touch? Princess Kay of the Milky Way, Amy Kyllo, Lutheran Bible College. She enjoys music, loves serves as the Minnesota dairy community’s to read and is an avid Minnesota Twins baseball goodwill ambassador. Throughout the year, fan.

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Page 28 • Dairy Star • Saturday, January 11, 2020 Joe Armstrong 612.624.3610 Luciano Caixeta 612-625-3130 Hugh Chester-Jones 507-835-3622

Group feeding calves for dairy production systems

Gerard Cramer 612-625-8184 Marcia Endres 612-624-5391 Sandra Godden 612-625-8177

Dairy replacement feeding and management systems have undergone major evolution in the last 25 to 30 years. As herd sizes increased, individual hutches were introduced to protect calves from contaminated and overcrowded environments. Recently, higher levels of milk feeding are recommended to promote early growth. Group calf rearing offers opportunities to reduce labor and to aid in socializing calves, but performance of group-managed calves in enlarged hutches is not well documented in dairy production systems. The maintenance of health and growth of dairy calves is very important in their rst few months of life. For the West Central Research and Outreach Center dairy herd, whole milk from By Brad Heins high somatic cell cows as well as bulk tank U of M Extension milk is fed to calves housed in enlarged hutches. By using whole milk, the casein in milk will clot and provide nutrition throughout the day for calves fed once per day which has been our management style for many years. Successful group feeding of dairy calves is enhanced with aggressive suckling during infancy and early consumption of high quality calf starter. We have an on-going research study at our dairy to evaluate the growth, health and, most importantly, the economic performance of dairy calves fed once per day and weaned at different ages. At our 275-cow dairy, calves are separated at birth from their dams, housed indoors in individual pens, and fed 2 liters of colostrum per 90 pounds of body weight two times per day for two days. Calves that are healthy and aggressive are moved to group housing at 3 days of age after the morning feeding. The pens or super hutches for group housing include an indoor area (12 feet by 20 feet) bedded with wheat straw with an outside access space that measures 12 feet by 20 feet. Groups of calves are fed with a 10-calf Skellerup peach teat feeder with 61 liters liquid volume capacity, which is washed and disinfected after each feeding. Calves are fed 6 liters (about 6 quarts) of milk per calf per day, and are fed a calf starter beginning on the third day of age. Water is provided free choice from 3 days of age with Ritchie water fountains, and hay is provided free choice at 3 weeks of age. There are advantages and challenges of feeding dairy calves in a group feeding system.

Joleen Hadrich 612-626-5620 Les Hansen 612-624-2277 Brad Heins 320-589-1711 Nathan Hulinsky 320-203-6104 Kevin Janni 612-625-3108 Karen Johnson 320-484-4334 Claire LaCanne 507-332-6109 Brenda Miller 320-732-4435 Kota Minegishi 612-624-7455 Erin Royster Jim Salfer 320-203-6093 Mike Schutz 612-624-1205 M. Scott Wells 612-625-3747 Emily Wilmes 320-255-6169


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Advantages are: - Labor for feeding calves is reduced, calves are socialized for group living. - Group learning occurs, especially for early starter consumption. - Calf growth is equal to individual housing. - Adequate growth of 1 to 2 pounds per day may be achieved depending on milk feeding level. - Calves are easier to bed and super hutches are easier to clean than individual hutches. Challenges include: - Calves must be aggressive drinkers when they are grouped. - Weak calves must be separated. - Calf attendant must be a good observer. - If age spread is large, the oldest calves will have delayed weaning or youngest calves will be weaned too soon. - Contagious disease may affect more calves. - It is more difcult to provide individual calf attention. Tips for feeding dairy calves in a group management system: - Separate newborns from fresh cows ASAP and hand-feed colostrum. - Train calf to drink from a rm nipple in an individual pen during colostrum feeding period. - Do not add a new calf to a group until it is a fast, aggressive sucker. Most are ready by the third day. Consider calves less than 65 pounds to be at risk and to require careful observation, especially during winter. - Feed at least 1.5% of birth weight of high-quality milk. Calves fed more than 2% may have loose manure initially. - Restrict range of age and size within a group when possible. One-week range works well; more than 3 weeks increases milk feeding cost for the group as weaning is based on the youngest calf in the group. - A super hutch works well for eight to 10 calves. - Leave the nipple feeder with the group so calves suck the nipple instead of each other. - Provide abundant water, bedding and an outside exercise area. - Wean when group average starter intake is 2 pounds per day for three consecutive days. - Calves should be fed at the same time each day and preferably early in the day.


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Does your herd t your facilities?

At the end of the year, some people put on a few pounds and nd their clothes tting a bit tighter after eating more than normal at holiday and family get-togethers. Two options to remedy the tight clothes situation include losing the additional weight and extra inches or buying clothes a size or two larger. What is best for your health is between you and your doctor. Dairy farms can get tight too. Farms can keep a few more cows and heifers than the facilities were originally designed to house and the pens, feed mangers and waterers can get a bit crowded. Extra animals in a dairy operation can stretch and stress the operation at multiple points. More feed and water are needed. More manure is produced and needs to be handled and stored. More cropland for manure nutrients is needed. Crowded pens means more bedding and ventilation are needed. More animals mean the space available per animal is less. Some herd growth may be easily managed up to a point. If some part of the operation cannot handle the herd growth, By Kevin Janni the bottleneck can impact the entire farm operation and overall U of M Extension production. Overcrowding may reduce heifer growth, delay age at rst calving and reduce rst lactation production. Overcrowded dry cow facilities may lead to calving problems and poor initial production. So, if some of your performance goals are not being met, it might be time to assess your facilities and see if your herd still ts in them. As with the tight clothes situation, there are options to consider if your facilities are overcrowded. One option is to expand your facilities. You can remodel existing buildings, nd buildings at other sites or build a new barn. Another option is to reduce animal numbers to match the capacity of your existing facilities. Sell cows and heifers that are not your best producers or best prospects. There are also some management changes that could be made. For example, if manure storage is being maxed out with annual land application, a farm might agitate and remove stored manure twice a year. The rst challenge is to ask the question and decide if your overcrowded facilities are hindering your production. The second step, if overcrowding is a problem, is to nd and consider options to address your most limiting bottleneck. Before taking action, it might be a good idea to think about other parts of your operation that could be future bottlenecks after implementing changes. Fixing one problem area may simply create a new problem in another area. By considering potential consequences of some changes, you may be able to x multiple problems due to additional animal numbers. Many factors impact heifer numbers including herd size, calving interval, percentage heifers born, and calf death or culling percentage. Table 1 gives estimated animal numbers for four total mature cow herd sizes (i.e., 100, 250, 500 and 1,000) and two calving intervals (12-month and 13-month). The estimates assume uniform year-round calving; 50% of all calves are heifers, all males sold at birth; 10% calving mortality, 60-day dry period and stable herd size. Actual animal numbers in each category will vary because that is the way biological systems work. The MWPS-7 Dairy Freestall Housing and Equipment handbook recommends planning for between 25% to 40% more animals in the heifer and dry-cow groups to provide some exibility in capacity. In addition to varying animal numbers, the extra space also allows time for cleaning and sanitizing calf pens and giving the space a break between calves and groups. Dairy facilities need to provide the animals with a clean and dry place to lie down and a place to stand to eat and drink. Calves also need bedding to allow for nesting in cold weather. The recommended minimum bedded resting areas from MWPS-7 are 28 square feet per calf from 0 to 12 months of age. Minimum bedded areas for heifers from 13 to 15 months of age are 32 square feet and for heifers from 16 to 23 months the area is 40 square feet. For far-off dry cows, the bedded area is 75 square feet, and for closeup dry cows the recommended minimum bedded area is 100 square feet. In all cases for animals over 2 months of age, these minimum recommended resting areas assume that the pens have a 10 feet wide scraped feed alley in addition to the bedded resting area for the animals to stand while eating and drinking. In many facilities, the space for eating and drinking is forgotten and actual bedded area is less than recommended. Providing unneeded space wastes money. Providing inadequate space hurts animal performance and well-being. Assess your facilities and animal numbers to see whether or not your herd ts your facilities. Table 1. Estimated calf and heifer group numbers for four mature cow herd sizes and two calving intervals assuming uniform year-round calving; 50% of all calves are heifers, all males sold at birth; 10% calving mortality, 60-day dry period and stable herd size. 12 month calving interval 13 month calving interval Herd size (total mature cows) 100 250 500 1,000 100 250 500 1,000 Calves born per year 100 250 500 1,000 92 230 460 922 Heifers per year 50 125 250 500 46 115 230 461 Calves 0-2 months 8 19 38 75 7 17 35 69 3-5 months 11 28 56 113 10 26 52 104 Heifers 6-8 months 11 28 56 113 10 26 52 104 9-12 months 15 38 75 150 14 35 69 138 13-15 months 11 28 56 113 10 26 52 104 16-24 months 34 84 169 338 31 78 156 312 Dry Cows Far off (60 to 20 days pre-calving) 11 27 55 110 10 25 51 101 Close up (20 to 0 days pre-calving) 5 14 27 55 5 13 25 51 Lactating cows 84 209 418 836 85 212 424 848

Dairy Star • Saturday, January 11, 2020 • Page 29


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Cabin fever

Page 30 • Dairy Star • Saturday, January 11, 2020

This can be a dangerous time of the year and not Thanks to the wonders of modern pharmaceuticals, just because of the hazards that can arise from dealing the outlook for sufferers is much improved. with leftover fruitcake. An even larger peril lurks, Cabin fever might be treated with a newfangled one which can affect the life of every man, woman antidepressant such as Prozac. But it turns out that and bachelor here in the oone of the side effects of Prozac can be ED, so Viagra Northland. Yes, I am talking P My upbringing M b i i iinvolved l d may need to be prescribed. about cabin fever. Viagra can cause headaches, Cabin fever is a common so much suffering that I so an NSAID might have to malady in regions where be taken. Too many NSAIDs wintertime can consume am simply bursting with can cause indigestion, so a three out of four seasons. character. The earliest symptoms are bbolus of antacids would be in usually mild. For instance, oorder. And so it goes, on and who among us has not yelled at those idiots on “The on, until your medicine cabinet becomes a miniature Jerry Springer Show”? But, this innocuous behavior version of a Costco pharmacy. When I was a kid, nobody would have dreamed can quickly evolve into full-blown cabin fever. The diagnosis is conrmed when the aficted person of using psychotropic substances to treat cabin fever. This was mainly due to our parents’ belief that admits to secretly hoarding garden catalogues.

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suffering builds character. My upbringing involved so much suffering that I am simply bursting with character. Just ask my wife; I have often heard her say that I am full of it. According to my parents, the cure for cabin fever could always be found somewhere outdoors. Dear County Agent Guy This was hammered home time and again during that beastly winter we endured the year when I was 11. It was an ideal winter from a boy’s point of view. Blizzards came with maniacal regularity, dumping so much white stuff on us that a snowplow got By Jerry Nelson stuck on the township Columnist road east of our dairy farm and remained stuck until spring. We missed weeks upon weeks of school. I could feel my brain beginning to atrophy. With eight kids in the house, it was inevitable that people would get on each other’s nerves. Little quirks that had gone unnoticed became points of bitter contention. Fiery arguments would erupt over such things as who drank the last of the milk or what happened to the newest garden catalogue. Mom and Dad would separate the combatants and command everyone to go outside and get some fresh air. It did not matter if it was 20 below with a howling northwest wind; we had to bundle up and go. Once, my two brothers and I were banished to the outdoors after a minor scufe resulted in a broken vase. I pointed out that it was totally not my fault even though I was the one who gave the rst shove. What was I supposed to do? Sit there as my kid brother intentionally and annoyingly breathed through his nose? We decided to serve out our exile by expanding the system of tunnels we had been constructing in the mountainous snowdrift on the north side of our house. Pausing from our excavation operations, I happened to glance up the road to see a ghostly apparition materializing from a blindingly white snow squall. The isolation was causing me to hallucinate. As the phantasm drew nearer, I saw that it was actually our old Norwegian bachelor farmer neighbor, Martin. I was somewhat disappointed. I had never had a real hallucination before. I walked to the road and escorted Martin to our farmhouse. A small icicle was dangling from the end of his nose and the damp butt of an unltered Lucky Strike cigarette was stuck to his lower lip. Good thing wind chill had not been invented or Martin might have frozen to death. I invited Martin into the house. My parents bade him to warm himself by the kitchen stove and plied him with hot coffee and scrambled egg sandwiches. Eager for news from the outside world, we asked Martin what it was like out there and how the roads were. Martin described it all in detail adding, as was his habit, that while this may be bad, it was a Sunday school picnic compared to the snowstorms he had endured in his youth. A few hours later, Martin got ready to take his leave. As Martin donned his massive sheepskin coat, I slyly slipped a little something into one of its pockets. It was a small sacrice. Besides, there were lots of garden catalogues where that one came from. Jerry is a recovering dairy farmer from Volga, S.D. He and his wife, Julie, have two grown sons and live on the farm where Jerry’s great-grandfather homesteaded over 110 years ago. Jerry currently works full time for the Dairy Star as a staff writer/ad salesman. Feel free to E-mail him at: jerry.n@

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God’s creatures

Dairy Star • Saturday, January 11, 2020 • Page 31

There are cows that just seem to never get upset about the line of honking vehicles behind. You Birdie, our yellow Labrador retriever, is not a good hunting dog. She does not like loud noises, so about anything. Sometimes a person can perform would not even want to think about being behind a gunshot sends her running in the wrong direction. a rectal examination or breed them right in the them in a left turn lane. They would always take She also has a live and let live attitude regarding middle of the alley. Some do not even quit chewing up two parking spaces. Jerseys would be speeding, their cud. I think they see humans as failing to yield, not using blinkers, talking on other animals, including birds. Once I let her out the back door without looking Veterinary Wisdom insignicant and not worth the bother: phones, not wearing seat belts and running stop “Just get it over with and go away.” signs. They would also be found stopped, ogling before I noticed three deer and a dozen Other cows seem to be friendly at every accident site. They might have their heads or so turkeys were within 50 feet. They at rst but then get progressively sticking out of the car windows while rolling their all looked up, momentarily startled and rougher until one is pretty sure they are tongues. What about those three-way Montbéliarde then relaxed, seemingly thinking, “It’s intentionally not being nice. Did they crosses? You would nd them while waiting at just Birdie; she won’t bother us.” Of get angry after being nice for a while? a stoplight. You would hear a deep, rhythmic, course, she just looked quickly in their Or, did they not get enough attention? booming noise from behind. Your car would start to direction and then headed off the other Get scratched in the wrong place? I vibrate and seem to rock with the beat. You would way, minding her own business. sure wish they could talk. Our old chocolate lab, Citori, whom soon realize the noise was a powerful car stereo. Then there are show cows. They You would look in your rearview mirror and see, I had to put down not long ago, would can be really nice sometimes. A farmer at the wheel, a Monte cross, multiple gold chains have made a beeline for the turkeys By Jim Bennett and I were trying to get an old show around her neck, lots of rings, studs, and other and might have managed to catch one Columnist cow into a chute one day. We pushed, hardware in her ears and nose, a swatch of purple or two. Every animal is different and cajoled and tried our best, but no dice. hair on the poll, staring straight ahead, oblivious to everyone has a different personality. Cows have personalities, too. You know this. Finally the farmer said, “You know she hasn’t been the racket. I have heard farmers tell me about certain not-so- shown for several years, but I am going to try a Cows are cool. Every animal is different. We, nice animals; sometimes they will say, “Just like halter.” She stood while he put the halter on then people who work with them day in and day out, are her mother, got tired of being kicked and had to sell followed him like a lamb blessed to know a secret: her, too,” or something similar. Occasionally, one right into the head gate. Of All of God’s creatures course, show cows can be C might use an expletive or two. remarkable in their Cows are cool. lE Every animal i l iis are One client has three of four Jerseys in a large a problem, too. Some act own way from a atworm herd of Holsteins. One of the Jerseys loves to be like spoiled children that different. to a bacterium to a dog pet. If a human walks by her pen, she comes running always get what they want, to a cow. Not everyone down to the end to get her head rubbed. Another and thus are pretty upset knows or appreciates this. farm had this big Holstein that would spy someone when you really expect them to do something they Humans are one version of creation and in many in the pen (like the vet performing reproductive do not like. ways not the most remarkable. Have a great new There are breed differences. Think about how year. exams) and then come running full speed until screeching to a halt with all four legs sliding right different breeds would drive if they could drive Bennett is one of four dairy veterinarians at in front of that person. This was, to say the least, cars. The Holsteins would be found in every upside Northern Valley Dairy Production Medicine Center unnerving. The rst time it happened I bailed and down car in a ditch, every wrecked pickup, every in Plainview, Minn. He also consults on dairy hit the sand in a free stall. The farmer laughed and car at the bottom of a cliff and every vehicle that farms in other states. He and his wife, Pam, have said, “Don’t worry, she won’t hurt you. She does appeared to have driven right off of a straight road four children. Jim can be reached at bennettnvac@ this to everyone.” But, what was she thinking? I on a clear day. The Brown Swiss would be blocking with comments or questions. could never gure out if she was happy or mad or every four way stop, refusing to move. They would just playing a game. also be stopped on freeway on-ramps, unconcerned


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Carolyn Bootsma Page 32 • Dairy Star • Saturday, January 11, 2020

In our area of the dairy world, meaning southwest eld rep job a few weeks ago, and I felt she deserved Minnesota or northwest Iowa, everyone knows some extra recognition for an outstanding career serving dairy farmers and their families. She told me Carolyn Bootsma. She was the AMPI eld representative for 26 stories I cannot write about. We reminisced about years. But, even if you did not ship milk to AMPI, past plant managers and milk haulers, and the angst or did not even milk cows milk inspectors brought on but are involved in the dairy all of us. She also told me Over and d over, C Carolyn l emphasized h i d she always tried to answer industry, you still knew O Carolyn. her phone day or night, the job was a joy because of the Carolyn did not only do including weekends and her job on AMPI farms. She dairy families she worked with. holidays. attended industry meetings, But, over and over, county fair dairy shows Carolyn emphasized the for the kids, June breakfast on the farm events and job was a joy because of the dairy families she worked anything else remotely related to dairy. I know for a with. fact she was invited to many weddings, and attended Before becoming a eld rep for AMPI, Carolyn visitations and anniversary parties. was a DHIA tester in northwest Iowa for nine years. I invited Carolyn to my ofce for a little sit- She had taken that job so she could pay Christian school down interview for this article. She retired from her tuition for her three children. At that time, she and


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her husband milked 50 cows. One of her customers, Leroy Eggink, from Sibley, Iowa, urged her to apply for the eld rep job when it opened up. She was immediately interested because she loved working with dairy farmers, plus it was full time with Making Cents of Dairy health insurance for her family. She did not immediately get hired, but with persistence eventually she landed the job. Since then she has worked under ve plant managers. Twenty-six years ago, when Carolyn started, she had 160 farms all within 90 By Dave Vander Kooi minutes of the home Columnist plants in Sanborn and Sibley, Iowa. She estimated she signed up 90 new farms that started milking or came from competing milk buyers. By the time she retired, she had 90 farms left in a three-hour radius of Sanborn. Many dairy farms have been lost in this area in 26 years which mirrors a national trend and gives me pause to think of one of my favorite sayings, “Everyone used to milk cows.” Field rep jobs like Carolyn’s are not easy. She is employed by the company to carry out the company directives on milk quality, milk temperatures, milk pricing and hauling issues. She often needs to be a mediator when disagreements come between the producer and the milk hauler. What really makes the job hard is the longer you work with the producer families that sell milk to the company, the more you become friends with those families. Sometimes it is hard being in the middle of the company that writes your paycheck and the family struggling to pay the bills from the milk check. Carolyn was one of those friends I never wanted to have my caller ID saying it was her calling me. The less I saw and heard from her, the better. It was not that I disliked her, but when she called it usually meant there was a problem with my milk in some way, shape or form. It was always a pleasant surprise if she called and said she was just in the area and was stopping for a visit to catch up on the latest. Last winter, when our previous calf raiser retired, we started up with a new calf raiser and had some problems with high bacteria counts in the colostrum. Carolyn again went above and beyond her duties to collect and send in multiple samples until we had the problem under control. One of the more challenging eld rep jobs in the last couple of years has been implementing a program called FARM (Farmers Assuring Responsible Management). This involves meeting with every producer to document that they are doing their best to take care of their animals. Mainly it involves how producers handle non-ambulatory animals and making sure animals are not abused in any way. Obviously dairy farmers want the healthiest animals possible, but new ideas and protocols can be a good thing. Looking forward to another three-year certication round of FARM made her think more about retiring. I think Carolyn tried her best for AMPI, the milk haulers, the large and small producers she served, and most of all she served the individual people and families involved in the dairy industry. Vander Kooi operates a 1,800-cow, 4,500 acre farm with his son, Joe, and daughter-in-law, Rita, near Worthington, Minn. Send him feedback at davevkooi@ Follow him on Instagram, @davevanderkooi.

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It is the start of a new decade and with it comes lists of items to boost our selfimprovement. My list is called lessons from Polka with compliments from a cow whose backstory follows. - Be likable. - Do your best even when under duress. - Be patient and calm. - Rise up and keep moving if you can. - Give yourself time to rest and recover. - It is OK to let someone else pull the weight. - Let others pamper you. Come Full Dairy Circle - Take care of somebody else if you are able. - Do not give up hope that things will get better. - Show appreciation to those who are kind to you. Part of being a dairy farmer is to enjoy working with cattle. If you do not have some level of affection for bovines, it is probably not the career for you. I have been spending more time than usual milking lately, so I have had time to think about and observe our cows. Cows are habitual, and for the most part they like to do the same things day in and day out. There are exceptions to their routines. I have observed that By Jean Annexstad disruptions to their daily habits often have to do with heats and calving. That is when they can be Columnist most unpredictable and sometimes that can mean trouble. My favorite cows in our herd are any of those our children or other 4-Hers have leased and shown. They are tame from being halter broken and having attended fairs where they were tied, washed, led around and generally pampered. They have names, instead of numbers, and I know them the best. Polka is one of my favorite cows. She was shown for a couple of years by Leif, but her shorter stature took her out of the show string. Polka is black, has straight lines and a great udder. Despite her shorter legs, she is a nice cow and can really milk. She nished her last lactation with 44,260 pounds of milk, 1,735 pounds butterfat and 1,280 pounds protein. She was due with her fth calf in early December on the same day as ve other cows. The weather was sub-zero with a thick layer of ice under the snow in the feed area by the dry cow bedded pack. The other cows had calved, and we were checking Polka several times a day. Every time I looked, she was standing up, looking uncomfortable and not calving. Then she started slipping, so we placed hobbles on her rear legs to prevent more trouble. Days passed, still no calf; we had our veterinarian check her during our morning herd check. All was ne. That night during milking she hastily marched into the parlor with the group of fresh cows before she could be stopped. She anxiously stumbled over her hobbles and fell in our parallel parlor. Eventually, and with a lot of barn lime applied for traction, she was able to get up and leave the area to get back to the deep bedded pack. She calved with a big, healthy beef cross bull calf the next day, one week overdue. Polka’s right rear leg was swollen from her parlor fall, and she was wobbly. To help ease her recovery, we put her on a separate pack. She spent several days mostly lying down and resting. She could not be milked because to go to the parlor would have elevated her risk of falling again. Her calf was moved into the calf barn with the others shortly after birth. Weeks have gone by. Polka is moving better but is still living on the deep bedded pack where feed and water must be delivered since she does not have access to it. Our kids who are home on college break have mostly been waiting on Polka. She has a calm demeanor and seems to relish being waited on due to her fair experience. We had several older cows due to beef bulls in December, so one of the black, fuzzy aggressive beef calves just born ended up nursing Polka and is taking care of our inability to milk her. They seem to both be quite content. Observing Polka and the calf has been fun for everyone on the farm since we have never really left calves with our cows. He races around when he is happy, sleeps well and nurses a lot. Polka seems glad to be milked and mothers the calf. Polka often meets us at the door when we deliver feed and water, and she occasionally pushes open the gate to eat at the bunk a few yards away. She is much better. Despite her trials, Polka has reminded us of a few things that are good for humans to remember (see list at the start). Jean dairy farms with her husband, Rolf, and brother-in-law, Mike, and children Emily, Matthias and Leif. They farm near St. Peter, in Norseland, where she is still trying to t in with the Norwegians and Swedes. They milk 200 cows and farm 650 acres. She can be reached at

Dairy Star • Saturday, January 11, 2020 • Page 33

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Page 34 • Dairy Star • Saturday, January 11, 2020

Individuals are the reason for Timms’ vibrant career ISU dairy specialist retires after 35 years in extension By Krista Kuzma

AMES, Iowa – Although Dr. Leo Timms’ expertise is dairy, his career has really been about people. “As I look at my job, it was about the ability to serve people, interact with people, help people, and develop those relationships and friendships,” Timms said. “If I think I achieved that – and I’m not the one to say I did, but I feel I did – and never lost sight of that, then that’s my achievements.” Timms retired from Iowa State University in October 2019 after starting his career in 1984. Although the majority of his time was spent as an extension dairy specialist, Timms also taught at the university in both the department of animal science and the veterinary college. “My uniqueness is I was doing stuff with processors and consumers, primarily education about practices we did on the farm,” Timms said. “Certainly, farmers and agribusinesses were part of my classroom, too.” Timms, who is originally from northeast Pennsylvania, became interested in dairy at the age of 10 after his older sister married a dairy farmer. “I wasn’t raised on the farm,” he said. “That gave me interesting insight because even now we have a lot of people who want to get into agriculture and sometimes say, ‘Well I didn’t come

from a farm, so how do I do it?’” Timms often encouraged people to follow their dairy dreams even if their background was unlike any others. “Sometimes people think if they’re not born and bred into it, there are no opportunities,” he said. “If you have a passion and a willingness to learn, you can do anything you want. In agriculture, we need tremendously good people.” Teaching happened in many places for Timms. “I think extension can be teaching in a classroom, in the eld or whatever,” he said. “To me, it was making Dr. Leo Timms science and facts simple, understandable, economical and fun. Helping people understand things and giving them the tools to make decisions for their business, families or whatever.” There is no doubt things have changed since Timms started his career over 35 years ago. At that time, the Apple IIe was the latest computer, and there were no cellphones. “How we communicate and get information has changed, but we’re still doing the same things – the fundamentals,” Timms said. Likewise, dairy has also changed. “Dairy has never been more diverse,” Timms said. “I think that’s exciting and challenging, but it’s also daunting because you have from low input to high input, from low capital and a lot of labor to high capital investment, labor, immigration, technology. But

the overall arching things we’re trying to achieve are the same – protability, animal health and wellbeing, good stewards of the environment.” In the last 20 years, Timms said agriculture has seen another shift. “The amount of people outside of agriculture who challenge us about the quality and safety of our products, practices we use on our farms in terms of how we treat the animals, the environment and the people we work with has grown,” he said. Because of this, Timms took on the role of spokesperson for the university, explaining the basics of how dairy farmers care for their cows and the environment, among other topics. “I was being exposed to dietitians, grocery case managers and consumers,” Timms said. “At the end of my career, I still had a large extension appointment, but the people I was addressing was very different and yet needed.” Whether out on the road to visit a dairy or in the classroom teaching a class, Timms enjoyed all aspects of his job. “I had an amazingly fun job,” Timms said. “On one hand I had a lot of things to do, but on the other hand I had a lot of breadth and diversity from the best students and faculty to being able to go to the eld and have excellent colleagues, friends, farmers and people.” Although Timms is retired, he likes to say redirected. While he helps with a dairy-related topic if asked, he is focused on other areas of his life. Timms is active in two senior singing groups. “I’m having a blast,” he said. “I gave up music and singing years ago because with traveling so much I did

not have a xed schedule to go to practice.” He also volunteers for three other organizations. The rst is visiting people who are receiving hospice care. The second is facilitating a bottle and cans recycling center to raise money for high school groups. The third is helping at a Boys and Girls Club. Timms had

“I think if I said I was successful in my career, it’s probably becasue I surrounded myself with incredibly good people.” DR. LEO TIMMS

attended one in his youth and wants to give back to an organization that helped him. “I start every week with an open slate yet by the end of the week everything lls up,” Timms said. “But, it all still stems around relationships with people and service.” It is the people who Timms said have made his dairy career vibrant and rewarding. “I think if I said I was successful in my career, it’s probably because I surrounded myself with incredibly good people, including good students who were doing the work when I was on the road, and my colleagues in extension or the people in the eld and the farmers,” Timms said.

Dairy Star • Saturday, January 11, 2020 • Page 35

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Efcient, productive milking parlors On dairy farms, we talk about a lot of things, like “efciency” and “productivity” and “protability” and that magical spot where all of those things come together. I think a really good example of this in the milking parlor. A parlor that runs efciently will have a high throughput and will maximize labor usage. Building on that, efcient labor By Emily Wilmes will also lead to University of MN a calm environment for cows, which in turn stimulates milk ow and even production. Add to that the milk quality benets of a well-run parlor, and protability ties in to the whole system. Is your parlor running at its most efcient? Is what’s being done in there helping your cows stay healthy and productive? Let’s review some ways to keep your parlor in tiptop shape. Think about the environment of the parlor itself. Is your parlor a place cows want to go? Is it clean? Is it calm and inviting? Things to consider in your parlor include cleanliness, noise levels, and light. A clean parlor will help manage environmental pathogens and help keep cows and milkers healthy. A quiet, calm parlor will help stimulate milk letdown and reduce potential teat damage of milking machines pumping when little milk is coming out. Loud music or milkers yelling may cause adrenaline release in the cows, which prohibits milk letdown. Lighting in a parlor is often overlooked, but shouldn’t be underestimated. A well-lit parlor benets the

cows, as they like to clearly see where they are going and what’s going on. It also benets employees, as they are able to see the udder well and ensure its cleanliness. Good lighting can also aid in the visual examination of milk when stripping the udder during prep. Next, think about the management of the parlor. How are cows brought in? How are they prepped for milking? How long does it all take? The ow of your parlor matters, from the moment that pump turns on to the moment it turns off. Cows should be brought in efciently, while still allowing them to move at a comfortable pace. Consider grouping cows by milking speed, or, at the very least, keep your slowest milkers until the end. While prepping cows, are all of the milkers (if there are multiple) doing the same thing? Is the prep pattern always the same? Is it a timely? A quick review of important milking preparation times: – The teat skin surface requires 10-20 seconds of stimulation for optimum milk letdown – Teat dip should be on the teats for 30 seconds to effectively kill bacteria on the teat surface – Prep-lag time, or the time it takes from initial stimulation to attachment of the milking machine should be 60120 seconds Preparation of cows in a timely manner that allows for proper stimulation and contact time is crucial to a well-run parlor. It also has a direct impact on parlor throughput, which is especially important in herds that run the parlor nearly 24 hours a day. The environment and management of your parlor play critical roles in ensuring it is efcient, productive, and in the end, protable.

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Page 36 • Dairy Star • Saturday, January 11, 2020

Women In Dairy Melissa Hanke Marsheld, Wisconsin Wood County 75 cows Family: My family consists of my husband, Michael, and our children Madison, 6, Marvin, 5, Maverick, 4, and Manning, 2. Tell us about your farm. Our farm is owned by my dad. I am the fourth generation. My grandpa bought the land in 1900 and built the barn in 1910. My dad took over in 1988. I have been working full time for 20 years since I nished college. I own about 40% of the animals. We raise our own feed and sell leftover commodities. We have both Holsteins and Red and White Holsteins, and raise all our heifers. We also raise steers. I also have a herd of 20 Angus and Red Angus brood cows. What is the busiest time of day for you? The afternoon is the busiest time of day for me whether it is doing crops or feeding and milking. A lot of work gets done then. When you get a spare moment what do you do? I like to garden in the summer and work on landscaping. In the winter, I enjoy baking and hopefully will get some reading done this year. I also love taking my kids to parks. Tell us about your most memorable experience working on the farm. My most memorable experiences have been saving animals’ lives or birthing calves. I also love my kids experiencing everything on the farm. What have you enjoyed most about dairy farming or your tie to the dairy industry? I love the dairy industry because of the vast knowledge we need and the amazing people we meet along the way.

How do you stay connected with others in the industry? I stay connected to the dairy industry by my involvement in 4-H and by spreading the word of agriculture to many people I meet. I love to educate and have my city friends and their kids come out and enjoy the farm. Who is someone in the industry who has inspired you? My father is my inspiration in the ag industry. I was always working alongside him as a youngster. He has an amazing drive and optimistic side. He taught me a lot about farming and his knowledge. If you could give a tour of your farm to a prominent woman in today’s society, who would it be? I would love to have the rst lady tour the farm. Our government ofcials have become too far removed from the reality of agriculture, and they need more exposure to the everyday life of a farmer. It would help in making better policies and sticking up for rural America. What is the best vacation you have ever taken? The afternoon we took the kids to the new zoo and to see Thomas the Train in Green Bay three years ago. I loved seeing how excited the kids were.


What are some words you like to live by? Love, laugh, be kind, take chances and hold Jesus close by.

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Blockchain revolutionizes supply chains with digitization, data sharing By Stacey Smart

MADISON, Wis. â&#x20AC;&#x201C; The ability to trace food from farm to table is of increasing importance to todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s consumer. Not only that, tracing animal and food movement is critical for the farmer producing the food. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Traceability is important for protecting our food system and our farms,â&#x20AC;? said Phil Harris. â&#x20AC;&#x153;That is why we think about the farmer ď&#x192;&#x17E;rst in everything we do. Currently, many supply chains are short on data and offer limited information surrounding qualPhil Harris ity, traceability and sustainability. Blockchain is a tool that can help.â&#x20AC;? Harris is the president and co-founder of His presentation, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Blockchain â&#x20AC;&#x201C; redeď&#x192;&#x17E;ning traceabilityâ&#x20AC;? was part of the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin Dairy Insights Summit Dec. 5, 2019, in Madison. Blockchain digitizes the supply chain by creating a digital version of a physical object. Devoted to helping supply chains around food and agriculture become more efď&#x192;&#x17E;cient and improving consumer trust and conď&#x192;&#x17E;dence in food, Harris and his team are active across a broad range of food and agriculture supply chains, including dairy, beef, pork and fresh produce. Dairy Farmers of America is one of their clients. Blockchain helps provide transparent and reliable information on the origin, journey and quality of food. Working with a broad spectrum of customer segments â&#x20AC;&#x201C; including farmers and producers, seed companies, industry associations, government bodies, food processors, grocery stores and restaurants â&#x20AC;&#x201C; blockchain provides track and trace for recalls and food safety, captures elements of quality and insures tracking the integrity of premium payments connected to data sharing and transparency. Digital transactions increase efď&#x192;&#x17E;ciency and reduce paperwork. Blockchain is helping industries such as healthcare, automotive, aerospace and agriculture by increasing efď&#x192;&#x17E;ciency, cost savings, risk reduction, data validation, data accuracy and data sharing. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Blockchain will revolutionize supply chains globally,â&#x20AC;? said Harris who compared it to the internet in its ability to transform the world. â&#x20AC;&#x153;A recent report from Gartner estimates that the business value from the deployment of blockchain has the capability to save $3.1 trillion across all industries by increasing efď&#x192;&#x17E;ciency.â&#x20AC;? Harris said anything can go on blockchain â&#x20AC;&#x201C; milk, cheese, steak, avocadoes, oranges, cars, currency and more. When deď&#x192;&#x17E;ning blockchain, Harris compared it to how Google Docs handles spreadsheets, allowing everyone with permission to see the same spreadsheet at the same time no matter where they are located. Blockchain works similarly, enabling people to see the same information in real time in a ledger. Multiple users can write and view information simultaneously. Not all information is accessible to everyone, and blockchain layers in additional security to ensure people only see the data meant for their eyes â&#x20AC;&#x201C; nothing more, nothing less. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I control who I share info with and what info I share,â&#x20AC;? Harris said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;That gives users the utmost security and conď&#x192;&#x17E;dence that what he or she is sharing is only going to the people they want to share it with.

Furthermore, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s an immutable environment meaning data cannot be manipulated. The sharing of information creates more efď&#x192;&#x17E;ciency within the supply chain and allows each actor in the chain to do a better job than he or she did before.â&#x20AC;? Customers are demanding transparency in their food purchases and looking for brands and products that tell a story. Harris said people are willing to pay more for this information, and if they cannot get the info they want, they will pick another brand. Big brands are going to demand this information, from their suppliers, if they are not already asking for it. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Consumers want to know where their food came from,â&#x20AC;? Harris said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Who grew it? How did it get here? How did the animals live? Where did they live? What is their medical history? This information will eventually be demanded for every speciď&#x192;&#x17E;c food item in the supply chain. Consumers want to buy food that tells a story.â&#x20AC;? That is where blockchain comes in. Each food item has a master data ď&#x192;&#x17E;le known as a food library that contains all of the possible capture attributes. The food bundle is the digital representation of the food item as it passes through the supply chain. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Our work starts at the farm â&#x20AC;&#x201C; outlining farming practices, seed variety, animal genotypes and phenotypes, for example,â&#x20AC;? Harris said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Our goal in dairy is not to isolate one cow in a frappuccino from Starbucks â&#x20AC;&#x201C; thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ridiculous. Instead, we group animals by farm. When a tanker comes to pick up the milk, we have time stamps and can follow it all the way through to the processor and retailer. It gives us a better idea of food safety, certiď&#x192;&#x17E;cation, quality, sustainability, traceability.â&#x20AC;? Data could also include details about herd management, animal safety, water management and soil management. â&#x20AC;&#x153;You can go as deep as you want with the data,â&#x20AC;? Harris said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s going to help the dairy farmer have a better predictive outcome on the quality of milk they sell and the price milk is sold at.â&#x20AC;? Blockchain digitizes the data consumers are craving about the food they purchase. Questions about size, color, texture, ď&#x192;&#x17E;rmness, ripeness and more will be answered through blockchain. Consumers will be more informed about what they choose to eat. â&#x20AC;&#x153;If a supplier, cannot document the items a brand ď&#x192;&#x17E;nds valuable, they may no longer buy from you. But if you give them what they want, they might enter into longterm contracts with you or pay a penny more per pound. â&#x20AC;? Harris said. Blockchain can help improve the traceability of dairy, beef and other products and achieve consensus amongst growers, distributors, packers, processors, brands and retailers. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Blockchain will help the farmer become more efď&#x192;&#x17E;cient and give him an opportunity to tell his story,â&#x20AC;? Harris said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want to turn your world upside down. We try to ď&#x192;&#x17E;t blockchain into how you currently operate. For a farmer with no digitization, it will be more challenging, but weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re ď&#x192;&#x;exible in how we capture the data. We can even take the info verbally. And we try not to charge the farmer; the cost is applied upstream.â&#x20AC;? Harris emphasized that blockchain is a team effort, and product improvements should be shared to enhance the whole ecosystem. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We need to do this together,â&#x20AC;? Harris said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;One dairy farmer or one processor canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t solve it on their own. Blockchain is not meant to penalize or pin people against each other in competition. Rather, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s designed to elevate everyone to do better.â&#x20AC;?

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Page 38 • Dairy Star • Saturday, January 11, 2020

Value added products bring dimension to dairy farms

Developing, marketing require planning, time, commitment By Danielle Nauman

WISCONSIN DELLS, Wis. – With tightening prot margins and decreasing markets continuing to face many Wisconsin dairy farmers, more are working to nd ways to increase their protability through adding value to the milk produced on their farms. Navigating the waters of creating and marketing value added products can be tricky and was a topic of discussion at the Compeer Financial Resilient Farms Conference Dec. 12, 2019, in Wisconsin Dells. Ron Henningfeld, of Hill Valley Dairy in East Troy, spoke about his experiences joining his family’s dairy farm as a cheesemaker. The family’s 68 cow dairy is operated by Henningfeld’s brother, Frank, and his wife, Colleen; Henningfeld and his wife, Josie, have joined the farm by creating a cheesemaking business which uses 20% of the milk produced on the farm. “I always loved the farm. I was drawn back to the farm, and small business and entrepreneurship,” Henningfeld said. “I had this idea in my head that maybe I could do something that adds to the farm like cheesemaking.” Nine years ago, Henningfeld decided to embark on his idea and began learning to make cheese, working for other Wisconsin cheesemakers for several years. In 2016, he began making his own cheese


Ron Henningfeld, of Hill Valley Dairy, shares his experiences of returning to his family’s dairy farm to create a cheesemaking business at the Resilient Farms Conference Dec. 12 in Wisconsin Dells, Wis. and started marketing at farmers markets. Originally Henningfeld sourced milk from the creamery he worked with instead of utilizing milk from the family farm. “By 2017, I was comfortable with the cheese business, and my brother Frank and I started to look at how we could connect the cheese business and our farm,” Henningfeld said. One load of milk from the farm each week is used to make about 500 pounds of

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Hill Valley Dairy cheeses. About half the cheese is marketed through farmers markets and the other half is sold to retailers and restaurants. “The last three years have been spent laying down a foundation for the cheese business,” Henningfeld said. “I think the next three years we will be able to see a lot of growth, and for our hard work and time to turn into more revenue for our two families and the family farm.” Henningfeld stressed the time commitment a value-added product carries. “As a dairy farmer, my brother wouldn’t be able to do a value-added product on his own so my coming back and joining them made this possible,” Henningfeld said. “I think that is important to know. To add a value-added product or value-added business to your farm is adding a whole additional workload.” Henningfeld plans to double the amount of cheese made from the farm’s milk during 2020, utilizing two loads of milk to bring production to 1,000 pounds of cheese each week. That will account for about 40% of the milk produced on the family’s farm. Lois Federman, the director of the Something Special from Wisconsin branded marketing campaign with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, shared insight into the planning needed to develop and market value-added products. “Marketing is something that doesn’t come naturally to most of us,” Federman said. “We tend to not be willing to put ourselves out there to have other people reject us. Marketing is the act or process of buying and selling in a market.” Federman is involved in direct marketing on her family’s farm because of the need for diversication. “The commodity markets are no longer meeting our bottom line so we needed to diversify how we are doing our marketing,” Federman said. “Farmers need to be price-makers and stop being price-takers. There aren’t many industries where someone else tells you what you are going to receive for your hard work. You can’t go to the store and say you are going to pay $5 for something that they are asking $10 for.” Before getting involved in direct marketing, Federman encourages farm families to consider not only their strengths

but more importantly to know where their weaknesses lie. “Who has what strengths within the family?” Federman said. “What can they bring to the table for the direct marketing business? Take inventory of what your strengths are rst before you try to start doing something, and then realize you are missing many pieces to the puzzle. More importantly, you need to understand, identify and accept your weaknesses. Then you can surround yourself with those who can help you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.” Federman said when entering the world of direct marketing and creating value-added products, mistakes are not something to be feared but should be looked at as a way to learn and grow. Flexibility and a willingness to change and evolve with the business climate along with innovation are crucial to being successful in direct marketing. Federman encourages creating a legal entity before embarking on direct marketing. “A lot of people think it’s not necessary; they think they are just going to try this. I personally think that is a mistake,” Federman said. “Families need to set the direction of the business, deciding who is in charge and will ultimately make the nal decisions, and who will be involved in what areas of the business.” Jenni Gavin, of Gavin Farms, shared her experiences about the importance of creating and utilizing a brand to make value-added products resonate with consumers. Gavin Farms is a small beef farm near Reedsburg that has been direct marketing beef for three years. “Your brand is your business’ reputation,” Gavin said. “It is your identity, what sets you apart from others in the industry. The brand is the idea, and branding is the visuals that help complete that idea. It includes fonts, colors, patterns, imagery, logos; how you make your customers feel. It helps tell your audience who you are, what you do and why your product will benet them.” When Gavin rst reached out to a designer to help develop a logo for egg cartons, she did not realize the depth of the project she was entering. “When I reached out to our designer, I had no idea what I was getting into,” Gavin said. “I had no idea that I wasn’t just getting a logo, but that I was investing in a branding package. I had no idea how that would impact our business and how we operate today.” The Gavins completed a branding questionnaire. The result was a branding package that had logos, color schemes, direction on taking and sharing photos for social media and marketing, and a guide on how not to use the logo. “There are different things you can do that actually harm the integrity of your branding,” Gavin said. “She wanted to make sure we were doing things properly. She also helped us write a mission and vision statement. All of that really impacted the way we do things today.” Delivering a consistent message and using consistent imagery has become an important part of the Gavins’ marketing strategy and is something they work to continue to perfect in order to connect with their customers. “Branding is a big investment,” Gavin said. “It’s something that everyone really wants, but they might not understand the value or importance of having it look professional. Branding has become a tool that has been really important to our farm.”

Dairy prole

Dairy Star • Saturday, January 11, 2020 • Page 39

with Matt and Ben Siems, Zumbro Falls, Minnesota

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 rst 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 beneted 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 nd 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 x things when necessary.

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

What are your plans for your dairy in the next year and ve 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 ve years, we would like to build a bigger heated shop.

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.

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.

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Page 40 • Dairy Star • Saturday, January 11, 2020

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Juneau, WI • 920-386-2611 Eastern Iowa Dairy Systems, Inc. Central Epworth, Ag Supply, IA •Inc. 563-876-3087

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Centre Dairy Equipment and Supply Inc. Sauk Centre, MN 320-352-5762 • 800-342-2697

Sioux Dairy Equipment, Inc. J. Gile Dairy Equipment, Inc. Midwest Livestock Systems Rock Valley, IA Cuba City, WI • 608-744-2661 Menomonie, WI • 715-235-5144 Fuller’s Milker Center, Inc. Monroe WestfaliaSurge 712-476-5608 • 800-962-4346 Pine Island, MN • 800-233-8937 Lancaster, WI • 800-887-4634 Monroe, WI • 608-325-2772 Colton, SD Leedstone, Inc. Sioux Falls, SD • 800-705-1447 Service 800-944-1217 Melrose, MNLeedstone, Inc. Beatrice, NE • 800-742-5748 Sioux Dairy Equipment, Inc. Edgerton, MN 877-608-3877 • 800-996-3303 Melrose, MN Rock Valley, IA Chemical Sales 507-920-8626 Glencoe, MN320-256-3303 • 800-996-3303 Monroe WestfaliaSurge / 712-476-5608 • 800-962-4346 320-864-5575 • 877-864-5575 Koehn, Inc. Glencoe, MN Colton SD Leedstone, Inc. Stanley Schmitz, Sioux Dairy Equipment, Inc. Inc. Plainview, MN Monroe, WI • 608-325-2772 Chilton, WI • 920-849-4209 Melrose, •MN 507-534-3161 800-548-2540 Rock Valley, IA Woodville, WI • 866-467-4717 Preston Dairy Equipment 320-256-3303 • 800-996-3303 712-476-5608 Tri • 800-962-4346 County Dairy Supply, Inc. Sparta, WI Glencoe, MN Colton, SD Janesville, WI • 800-822-7662 608-269-3830 • 1-888-863-0227 320-864-5575 • 877-864-5575

Midwest Livestock Systems, Inc. Menomonie, WI • 715-235-5144 Owen, WI • 715-229-4740 Pine Island, MN • 800-233-8937 Sioux Falls, MN • 800-705-1447 Beatrice, NE • 800-742-5748

Service 800-944-1217 Edgerton, MN Chemical Sales 507-920-8626

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January 11, 2020 Dairy Star - Zone 1  

January 11, 2020 Dairy Star - Zone 1

January 11, 2020 Dairy Star - Zone 1  

January 11, 2020 Dairy Star - Zone 1

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