Dennis Noetzelman-1960s
Dennis Noetzelman-1960s

Walter & Mona Young

Benson, MN • Swift County

124 cows

Started farming in 1958

 

What do you love most about dairy farming? I (Walter) really liked milking cows and the dairy life. I never minded getting up in the morning to go to the barn.


What has been your greatest success during your career? Dairy farming with our sons and their family. Jason and Brian came back right out of college to help. I enjoyed farming with my sons. They are good workers. Brian and I would do the milking, and Jason did the feeding. We liked when the grandkids came out to the farm. Mona would watch them when they were there.


What has been the biggest challenge and how did you overcome it? Back in the 1980s, when interest was 18%-20%, it was tough. We paid a little extra at a time. If we needed equipment, we would borrow and make the payments.


Describe what industry change has benefited your farm the most. The TMR mixer. The cows came up on milk, and it was more accurate feeding. There was less waste as well.


What is a lesson you learned in your dairying career that you still stand by today? Hard work. You have to work hard on a dairy farm, but you get used to it.


What drew you to the career of dairy farming? We have been dairying our whole life. I liked cattle at a young age. When I was young, we got to show cows at the fair and that was a lot of fun.


Tell us about your farm then and now. I started out with my dad, Ernest, and two brothers, Robert and Donald, and we had 35 cows. We also had pigs, chickens and fattened steers. We got married in 1963, and then Ernest moved a house on the home place for Walter and Mona to live in. In 1975, we moved over to the big farmhouse. In 2010, we celebrated 100 years for the Youngs on the farm, which included four generations. We (Walter and Mona) moved into Benson in 2012, and Brian and Molly and their family moved to the farm. They are the fourth generation on the farm. Brian and Jason milk 124 cows in their tiestall barn. They have free stalls and loose housing for the animals. They farm 300 acres and plant corn, wheat and alfalfa. I help the boys with spring and fall tillage. I also like to cut hay but haven’t yet this year.

 

 

Dennis Noetzelmann

Parkers Prairie • Douglas County

55 cows

Started farming in 1969

 

What do you love most about dairy farming? Milking the cows and watching baby calves grow and produce a lot of milk. 


What has been your greatest success during your career? Keeping a low somatic cell count and having good components. Both make for a good milk price. 


What has been the biggest challenge and how did you overcome it? The up and down prices of milk have been the greatest challenge. There is no steady paycheck. It’s frustrating because you have to be very careful what you spend. 


Describe what industry change has benefited your farm the most. Putting up high moisture corn. Before, we’d haul our corn in the fall and grain bank it and they’d bring it out in a ration. I also like that we can harvest a lot of high moisture corn in a short amount of time. It has made dairy farming a lot easier with a lot less labor.


What is a lesson you learned in your dairying career that you still stand by today? Being a dairy farmer takes a lot of patience. Be patient and take it one day at a time, and hope for the best. 


What drew you to the career of dairy farming? I’ve always loved dairying. This is our family’s farm. It’s almost a century farm. My father purchased it in 1940, and Judy and I bought it in 1984. 


Tell us about your farm then and now. Back in 1969, we just milked 30 cows in an old stanchion barn. There was no barn cleaner. It was all done by hand. Then in 1976, Dad and I built a new morton dairy barn. It was Morton’s first full-size dairy barn. Otherwise, they had just built additions onto existing barns. With that, we had liquid manure storage, put in a pipeline and 55 tie stalls with rubber mats. 

 

 

Melvin & Brenda Primus

pictured with their daughter, Kendra

Melrose, MN • Stearns County

60 cows

Started farming in 1970s

 

What do you love most about dairy farming? We both love being around the animals. From watching them grow to seeing how much milk a cow can give. Also, in the spring, watching the cows go to the pasture and spread out and just relax.


What has been your greatest success during your career? Being able to increase cow numbers and increasing milk production.


What has been the biggest challenge and how did you overcome it? We had a disease come through our herd. We noticed we had a problem in the early 1990s. With the help of our veterinarian, we overcame the problem. We learned how to manage calves from birth to adult cows.


Describe what industry change has benefited your farm the most. Automatic take-offs. Cows get milked the same way each milking. If you hire someone to milk, you know the cows are getting milked the correct way. They have made milking so much easier.


What is a lesson you learned in your dairying career that you still stand by today? Taking care of the calves from birth to adult. Getting them off to a great start leads to great cows down the road.


What drew you to the career of dairy farming? Brenda and I grew up on dairy farms. We both agreed that being on a farm is the best place to be to raise your family and to be around animals with plenty of fresh air.


Tell us about your farm then and now. I (Melvin) started farming with my dad in the 1970s. In 1986, I married Brenda. She joined in with the milking. In 1991, we purchased the farm. When we married, we purchased a pipeline. After a few years, we added onto the barn to increase cow numbers. At that time, we also added a manure pit to make things a little easier. In 2009, we purchased Brenda’s parents’ farm. Our two sons farm that land and raise steers. On our farm, our sons help with the milking, and Kendra, our daughter, helps with calf feeding and other chores.

 

 

Doug & Corena Green

Greenbush, MN • Roseau County

Started farming in 1985 after graduation, but formed a partnership with Dad in 1986

 

What do you love most about dairy farming? Seeing the genetics and type improvement in the cattle from doing A.I. for 38 years. And, being able to work with family. We had all our kids grow up in 4-H and showing at the state fair. 


What has been your greatest success during your career? The kids doing well at the Minnesota State Fair in the 4-H dairy program. With our genetics, we’ve had some Excellent animals classified. Our daughter, Michelle, was also a dairy princess and a Princess Kay finalist in 2015. 


What has been the biggest challenge and how did you overcome it? Losing dairy infrastructure because of the farmers going out of dairy. We’ve had to haul it farther away and pay more freight. For us, we’re only 20 miles from Canadian border. Everything from us has to go south. We’ve lost the Roseau creamery, Thief River Falls plant and Fosston plant. Our closest plant is 160 miles away in Perham. 


Describe what industry change has benefited your farm the most. The TMR mixer and using local protein sources from processing plants nearby. We added our mixer in 1989, so we’ve used that for 32 years. 


What is a lesson you learned in your dairying career that you still stand by today? Our old vet, Dr. Schneider, told me that sometimes it is not worth spending a $1 to get $1.10 back when it comes to pushing the cows. I’ve stood by that my whole life. Dr. Schneider would preg-check our herd twice a month, and I was very young when he took me under his wing. He was really a godsend in our area.  


What drew you to the career of dairy farming? I grew up with it and it was a lifestyle of working with family. I love the animals and seeing them grow and the genetics changing. I graduated in 1985 and we created a partnership in 1986. My wife and I got married that same year. If I wouldn’t have come home, the cows would have been gone.

 

Tell us about your farm then and now. Cow numbers have stayed about the same and we have increased our grain farming acres over the years. We’ve also added another 60 cow-calf pairs of Angus. We are also looking at expanding our dairy. Both of my sons are back on the farm; one enjoys the livestock and the other likes the crops. We want to keep on educating people about where their food comes from.

 

 

Brian & Eileen Hoefler

New Vienna, IA • Dubuque County

180 cows

Started farming in 1990

 

What do you love most about dairy farming? We love being outside and being able to work with our family.


What has been your greatest success during your career? Our greatest success has been raising four hard-working children.


What has been the biggest challenge and how did you overcome it? The biggest challenge has been the ups and downs of milk prices. We keep our farm diversified with steers and crops to overcome this.


Describe what industry change has benefited your farm the most. Installing three Lely robotic milkers 10 years ago has been the most beneficial change we have made.


What is a lesson you learned in your dairying career that you still stand by today? A lesson we like to live by is work hard but play harder.


What drew you to the career of dairy farming? What drew us to dairy farming was being outside and watching the calves grow into cows.


Tell us about your farm then and now. We started with Brian’s parents milking about 80 cows in stanchions and farming 280 acres. We installed a parlor in 1996 and expanded to about 120 cows. We slowly grew the herd to about 180 cows and added robots in 2011. We also added about 300 acres of land. 

 

 

Matt Andring, 

pictured with his son, Blaine

Dover, MN • Olmsted County

140 cows

Started farming officially in 2005 after college

 

What do you love most about dairy farming? There are many things. I like cows. It’s always fun to have a calf you remember turn out to be one of your best cows. I like working in the fields and seeing seed grow to a final product. I also enjoy working outside, being my own boss and working alongside my family. Most days, I love what I do. 


What has been your greatest success during your career? I have improved the overall health and efficiency of the herd. I’m also proud of my kids and wife. 


What has been the biggest challenge and how did you overcome it? Price volatility has been one of the biggest challenges. I try to overcome this with watching expenses and tax planning. I also see labor being an issue, and it’s only going to get worse. 


Describe what industry change has benefited your farm the most. Technology. I spend a fair amount of time looking at cows on Dairy Comp. The internet has also been an asset. GPS has also been helpful on the cropping side of things. 


What is a lesson you learned in your dairying career that you still stand by today? Don’t hold on to cows too long. Selling a cull cow sooner will increase her value.


What drew you to the career of dairy farming? I’ve always had a passion for tractors and cows as long as I can remember. My dad is also an electrician, but my passion was always on the farm. 


Tell us about your farm then and now. I bought the cows from Mom and Dad, Gail and Don, in 2006. We milk 120 Holsteins twice a day. My wife, Amanda, and I have three children: Brecken, 8, Bailey, 5, and Blaine, 3. I have a brother who helps milk in the mornings and a nephew who helps at night. Dad helps mix feed, and we farm about 650 acres of corn, soybean, pea and alfalfa. All our heifers are home raised, and we finish all our steers. I have a handful of beef cows I call my hobby.

 

 

Charlie Dicke

Goodhue, MN  • Goodhue County

200 cows

Started farming in 2013

 

What do you love most about dairy farming? I like that every day I do something different, seeing projects from start to finish and learning from mistakes.

 

What has been your greatest success during your career? I invested in farming at a young age, buying animals when I was 16 years old and land when I was 17. Being able to see better soil structure and building solid cow families has led to higher profitability and getting 100 pounds of milk per cow per day. 


What has been the biggest challenge and how did you overcome it? I learned automated calf feeding was not a good fit for our farm. There’s a big learning curve to the method. While it works for many farms, we had challenges. After one year, we decided to go back to individual pens. 


Describe what industry change has benefited your farm the most. Getting activity monitors has led to more heifers. Because of this, we implemented better breeding decisions and started using genomics to help determine matings. We can strategize on how to maintain and improve our herd. We now only inseminate the top Holsteins in the herd based on genomics and the number of replacements we need. We sell all the bull calves and beef cross calves for extra income. I have been in charge of the breeding of our herd since I was 17; however, I had an interest in genetics and had already been helping with matings at least one year before that. 


What is a lesson you learned in your dairying career that you still stand by today? Time away and any further education will always benefit both me and the farm. I attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison Farm and Industry Short Course, which expanded my dairy knowledge. I also take time to go on day trips to events like World Dairy Expo. When I was younger, I worked on FFA and 4-H projects to help develop dairy skills. In more recent years, working with our farm business management instructor, Mark Wehe, is beneficial because he encourages us to evaluate our farm every other month. We look at farm books and stay up-to-day with government programs. We are also lucky to have supportive businesses and industry people in our area.  


What drew you to the career of dairy farming? I was involved with my family’s dairy and had large responsibilities from a young age. I grew to love it and wanted to continue. I have the desire to promote and support the products my family has been a part of producing. It’s necessary to give back to the industry in a positive manner. One example is trying to bridge the farm-city disconnect. About one year ago, I got my haircut at a Great Clips in the Twin Cities. I invited them to the farm during milking and they actually came. It was a culture shock for them, but they learned more about where their dairy products come from. 


Tell us about your farm then and now. I am the fifth generation of Dicke Century Farm where we raise corn, alfalfa, soybeans, sweet corn and peas. We raise our replacements and milk our herd in a double-9 parallel parlor. While most of our herd is Holsteins, we have 12 Jerseys. I graduated from high school in 2011. Although I kept working on the farm after that, I joined the dairy in 2013. Since then, we have gained more land and upgraded buildings and technology, including activity monitors, milk meters and Dairy Comp.