Over 2,500 people visited Rohe Dairy, near Melrose, MN for the 2015 Stearns County Breakfast on the Farm.
Meet the Rohes
Rohe Dairy is a multi-family dairy and crop farm. The families of Rohe Dairy want their farm to provide quality family life, be profitable and productive for their family now and in the future, and be a place where consumers can learn more about how milk is produced.
Marvin is the farm’s general manager; he oversees all areas and makes sure everything is running right. Michele manages the business office and helps care for the calves. Mike is the farm’s herdsman; he makes sure all of the cows are healthy and comfortable. Jim takes care of feeding the cows and manages the farm’s crops.
It takes many helping hands to keep Rohe Dairy running. The Rohes’ father, Harvey, continues to help out where needed. Marvin and Michele’s two sons, Cody and Dustin, work on the farm, too. The farm also relies on two full-time employees and seven part-time employees.
The 2014 Stearns County Breakfast on the Farm was hosted by the families of Funk’s Midway Dairy, near Melrose, Minn. Despite the cool weather and early rain, over 1,500 people enjoyed the morning at Funk’s Midway Dairy.
Meet the Funks
John and Dorothy Funk began milking 60 cows in 1972. Along with having three sons: Greg, Jeff and Karl, join the family farm business, the Funks expanded their dairy in 1997 by adding a free-stall barn and milking parlor. They went through three different ex- pansion phases to achieve their current size. Most recently, in 2013, they built a free-stall barn for their heifers, which is located a mile and half from their dairy.
The Funk family’s purpose and mission is to own and operate a farm that provides quality family life, is profitable and productive for their family now and in the future, and beneficial to the community.
The Funks own and manage the family farm and all members play active and vital roles in making it a true success. John is the financial manager of the business and oversees the farm operations while Dorothy takes care of the bookkeeping and payroll. Greg is the crop manager and does the machinery maintenance. Jeff is the herdsman and manages the dairy employees. Karl is the overall farm manager, taking care of the daily operations of the farm. He also manages the heifers and young stock. Matt Hellermann is their feeder and manages the bunkers.
In addition, the Funks also have five full-time and seven part-time employees, who take care of milking the cows, caring for the cows in the freestall barn, help feed calves and do other farm tasks.
In addition to caring for their animals and land, the families of Funk’s Midway Dairy are active in their communities, their churches, and the dairy industry.
The Funk family farms 1,300 tillable acres, including growing the majority of the corn and alfalfa for their dairy herd. They also grow soybeans.
Most of their farming is done conventionally and nutrients for their crops are supplied from their dairy cows.
All manure from the dairy is used as either bedding or natural fertilizer, injected into the soil to maximize absorption and minimize odors. Nutrients from animal manure are considered organic and are an excellent source of fertilizer for growing their crops.
The Funk family feels an obligation to take care of the land, so they can preserve it for future generations.
Funk’s Midway Dairy milks 600 Holstein cows. The Funks’ cows are milked twice daily in a parlor that can accommodate milking 16 cows at one time. Their cows produce more than 10 gallons of milk each day.
All cows are housed in a freestall barn and can move around, eat and drink, or lay in stalls at any time. Their bedding consists of wood shavings and sunflower hulls on top of mattresses and water beds. Stalls are groomed twice daily and new bedding is added three times a week. A bedded pack, kept dry with straw and shavings, also provides extra comfort for certain groups of cows. Cows are cooled with water sprinklers when the temperature rises above 70 degrees, along with fans to help with air movement.
The Funk family believes that happy, healthy and comfortable cows will have good quality of life and that they will produce healthy and wholesome milk for all to enjoy.
Nearly 3,000 people attended the 2013 Stearns County Breakfast on the Farm held at Groetsch Dairy, home of the Steve & Lisa Groetsch family, on Saturday, June 6, 2013.
Meet the Groetsches
Steve and Lisa purchased their farm from Steve’s parents, Clarence and Rita, in 1989. They started with 47 cows. In 1997, a freestall barn and parlor were built to replace the dairy barn that was built in 1902. The new facility allowed them to grow to 180 cows. Between 1999 and 2009 several other buildings were replaced or added; including a new calf barn in 2001 with an automatic feeder, which was added in 2009. In 2011, with an addition on the freestall barn, four Lely robotic milkers and a two stage manure lagoon were added. They now milk 240 cows in a facility that runs 24/7.
Alfalfa and corn are grown on 600 acres, rented and owned, to feed the 280 cows, 220 young stock/heifers and 30 steers. When heifers are 6 months old,they are moved to a farm owned by Lisa’s brother and sister-in-law, Doug and Sue Overman. The heifers return two months before having their first calf. Lisa’s brother Doug cares for all the heifers at his farm as well as feeding cows, doing field work, and making repairs at Groetsch Dairy.
Groetsch Dairy has 10 part-time employees which include Steve and Lisa’s three children: Jennifer, Matthew and Katelyn. Jennifer is attending UW River Falls for Dairy Science/Pre-Vet, Matthew is attending Alex Tech for Carpentry, and Katelyn is a junior at Albany High School. Employees have a variety of tasks; caring for the cows in the freestall barn, caring for calves, field work, feeding cows, bookkeeping, and general farm tasks.
The robot that keeps the cows’ feed where they can reach it.
Steve and Lisa share the herd health responsibilities and farm management decisions. Steve makes the crop decisions, machinery and robot maintenance, and oversees the herd’s milk performance. Lisa cares for the young calves, manages the employees, and manages the finances.
Steve and Lisa are members of First District Association and are on the Young Cooperators Board. Steve, Lisa and their children are members of the Church of Seven Dolors; where Lisa is serving on the Welcoming Committee. Steve and Lisa have hosted countless tours of their farm for individuals and groups in order to share and educate others about dairy, agriculture, and the lifestyle of farming.
Over 2,500 people visited Landwehr Dairy, home of Dennis, Marlene & Mike Landwehr, for the 2012 Stearns County Breakfast on the Farm.
Meet the Landwehrs
Dennis and Marlene Landwehr and their son, Mike, are the third and fourth generations of the Landwehr family to dairy farm in southern Stearns County. Landwehr Dairy, located just north of Watkins, Minn., includes three farm sites: one for the milking cows, one for cows and heifers about to have their calves, and one for baby calves. The three sites are managed by Dennis, Marlene and Mike, with help from their herdsman, Isaac Miller, and 14 other employees. In addition to managing the dairy, the Landwehrs also grow corn and alfalfa to provide feed for their animals.
The Landwehrs are active in the dairy industry and their local community and enjoy welcoming visitors to their farm. They recently hosted a University of Minnesota Extension Field Day and a farm tour for inner-city youth from the school where the Landwehrs’ daughter, Rhonda, worked as a teacher. The Landwehrs’ youngest daughter, Heather, works in Elk River.
Over 1,500 people enjoyed the sunshine and vast array of farm animals at Schefers Dairy Farm during the 2011 Stearns County Breakfast on the Farm.
About the Scheferses
Lyle and Becky Schefers along with their children — Veronica, Cory, Elizabeth and Benjamin — own and operate Schefers Dairy Farm, which borders the city limits of St. Stephen. Lyle started the dairy farm in 1992 with nine cows while working an off-the-farm job. By 1999, the herd had grown to 70 cows. At this time, he expanded the herd to approximately 230 cows. A new freestall barn and youngstock facility were constructed and a double-12 parlor was retrofitted into the existing tiestall barn.
In 2007, the Scheferses made many more improvements to their farm in order to comply with county ordinances. They put in a new manure storage basin and renovated their existing manure storage basin to ensure zero discharge. They also added two concrete stacking slabs and began injecting their manure directly into the soil, which maximizes the value of the organic fertilizer and minimizes odor. To make the project feasible, they expanded their herd, doubled the size of their freestall barn and heifer raising facilities, and built a new dry cow barn.
While making these improvements to their facilities, the Scheferses decided to go the extra mile to beautify their farm. They added an earthen berm along the new pit and planted 700 trees on it for beautification purposes. They landscaped the front yard, adding a gazebo and rock walls, reseeding the lawn and installing a sprinkler system.
Over 1,300 people visited Mill Creek Dairy, home of the Gregory family, for the 2010 Stearns County Breakfast on the Farm.
Meet the Gregorys
Tom and Donna purchased the family farm from Tom’s parents, Willard & Loretta, in 1981. The 240-acre dairy farm grew from 45 cows to 80 milking cows. In the early 1990s, the environment became a greater concern, because a creek borders the farm. In 1996, the Gregorys started making plans for a new barn site and environmentally-friendly facility. Tom’s brother, Ed, joined the operation and in 1997, Mill Creek Dairy was constructed. Tom and Donna’s son, Nick, became an employee of the farm after graduating from college. The Gregorys now have a herd of 375 cows and harvest crops from 700 acres of land.
Tom and Donna have two other children employed off the farm. Their daughter, Michelle, is married and works for the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C. Their son, Chris, is a registered nurse at MeritCare Hospital in Grand Forks, ND.
Owners: Tom & Donna Gregory, Ed Gregory
Cows Milked: 325
Acres Farmed: 700
Crops Grown: Corn, Alfalfa
Employees: 2 full-time; 10 part-time
The Gregorys are active members of their community and church. Tom serves on the board of directors for New Vision Alliance and Cold Spring Co-op and is a member of the Stearns County Dairy Advisory Committee. Ed serves on the Stearns County DHIA board of directors. In addition to helping with the calves on the farm, Donna works full-time as a registered nurse at the St. Cloud Hospital.
While their children were growing up they were active in 4-H and FFA. Several of Mill Creek Dairy’s part-time employees are members of the Kimball FFA Chapter.
Over 600 people braved the unseasonably chilly weather to visit Nathe Dairy, for the 2009 Stearns County Breakfast on the Farm.
About the Nathes
Jeron and Brenda Nathe are the fifth generation on the Nathe farm, which has been in the family since 1868. They purchased the farm in 2006 from Jeron’s parents, John and Virginia Nathe.
Jeron started working full time on the farm after graduating from Ridgewater College in 1995. He is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the farm, including managing the cows, crops and employees. Brenda has a business degree from the University of Minnesota – Morris. She does the bookkeeping for the farm while taking care of their four children.
Over the last 15 years, the Nathes have grown their herd from 50 cows to 275 cows. The Nathes are always striving to make their farm better for the cows which live there and the people who work there.
Owners: Jeron and Brenda Nathe
Cows Milked: 275
Acres Farmed: 300
Crops Grown: Corn, Alfalfa
Employees: One full-time; eight part-time
The Nathes are important members of their community. They are active in their church and Jeron serves on the Stearns County Dairy Advisory Committee.