Award-winning dedication

Kerfeld family named Minnesota Milk’s 2023 Producer of the Year

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MELROSE, Minn. — Every day, four generations of Kerfelds set foot in the barn at Kerfeld Hill-View Farms.

The Kerfelds were recognized by the Minnesota Milk Producers Association as the 2023 Producer of the Year March 6 at the association’s annual meeting.

“It was a surprise to us that we won,” Tim Kerfeld said. “We are just your normal, everyday dairy farmers.”

Tim and his wife, Carrie, are the main overseers of the farm and have five children and four grandchildren. Their four sons — Nicholas, who is also part owner, Nathan, Isaac and Riley — all help in the day-to-day operations.

“We all typically meet in the barn in the morning and go over what needs to get done for the day and the rest of the week,” Tim said. “In general, we all have our own jobs, but we all help out as needed.”

Nicholas takes care of crop inputs, and Nathan is in charge of the youngstock, including the steers; both are full time on the farm. Isaac and Riley are in school and help on a regular basis. Their daughter, Jessica, and her husband, Michael, have their own dairy farm. Tim’s parents, Art and Rosie, live and help on the farm. 

They milk 290 cows with four Lely A5 robotic milking units and farm 400 acres near Melrose. The Kerfelds also use automation in their barn for manure scraping, feed pushing and calf feeding.

“With the robots, you still have to be there every day, but you have the flexibility do to more with your day,” Tim said.

The Kerfelds raise heifer replacements and steers. They also do custom soil sampling, manure hauling, harvesting and planting of cover crops for others. The family mainly uses rye and sorghum for both a cover crop and as a double crop. Kale and radishes also are used as cover crops.

“When the kids expressed interest in returning home to farm, we had to find something to generate extra income,” Tim said.

With so many people involved and so much going on at Kerfeld Hill-View Farms, it is important to the family to not cut corners.

“Tim is really good at showing the boys the details of how and why we do things,” Carrie said.

Besides utilizing technology in their barn, the Kerfelds also utilize technology on their tractors due to the breadth of their custom work.

“The precision ag technology is mainly how we are able to get everything done that we need to,” Tim said. “With the custom work, we got involved with cover cropping and practicing no-till a number of years ago.”

The Kerfelds are a reduced-tillage farm. They work with the National Resources Conservation Service on conservation programs and are recognized with the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program. They encourage and assist other farmers in getting started with sustainability practices.

“Now, we do a fair amount of no-tilling for other people,” Tim said. “We do it whenever we can on our farm too.”

Kerfeld Hill-View Farms was part of a four-year sustainability study with the Headwaters Agriculture Sustainability Partnership. The study collected data on the economic and environmental impact of conservation practices.

Due to the Kerfelds’ diligence with conservation efforts, the family was also named the 2023 Outstanding Conservationist by the Stearns County Soil and Water Conservation District.

Besides promoting conservation, the Kerfelds do what they can to promote the dairy industry and agriculture in general. Art and Rosie have been active on the Stearns County American Dairy Association board for 30 years. Kerfeld Hill-View Farms hosted a Stearns County farm city tour in 1998 and the Stearns County Breakfast on the Farm in 2021.

“We did the farm city tour, which was the very first version of breakfast on the farm,” Tim said. “After four or five years, they changed the name to breakfast on the farm. So, we hosted the first and the latest one for Stearns County.”

 All of the Kerfelds agreed that dairy farming together is not just a career but rather a lifestyle.

“It is a great way to raise a family,” Tim said. “We are all together every day, and I get to see my kids and grandkids every day.”

Carrie agreed. 

“The farm teaches a lot of good values, mechanics, dairy health, soil health and communication skills that you can’t learn living in other places,” Carrie said. “We also enjoy the freedom of being our own boss.”

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