Farm Horizons, June 2016

Ted Grangroth – Doing what he’s always wanted to do

For farmer Ted Grangroth of Cokato, owning a dairy farm is something he always knew he wanted to do. He has now been farming for 22 years, having more than doubled the size of his milking herd. Taking good care of his cattle is part of his success in running a profitable operation.

Having been raised on a farm, Grangroth was familiar with farm life, yet, he said, “I didn’t know if I could make a living milking cows.”

So, he went to college at St. Cloud State University, where he earned a degree in finance. He then worked in cost accounting for several years.

And then, he recalled, “I realized my heart was on the farm.”

So, he returned to his parents’ farm in 1994 and rented from them for five years.

Grangroth then built his own barn and added to the herd of Holstein cows with his parents’ help. He started out with 60 milking cows. He now has 135 milking cows, with about 120 cows being milked twice a day.

“The cows calve once a year, so they have a 45- to 60-day resting period before the calf is born when they aren’t milked,” Grangroth noted.

From December to February, he can sometimes have as many as 40 new calves born.

Cows are sometimes productive enough that they are milked from seven to nine years, but the average tends to be from two to six years.

Once the cows are beyond their productive years, they are auctioned off, or used for beef.

On average, Grangroth’s cows produce 80 pounds of milk each day, with some producing as much as 140 pounds a day.

With the cows producing so much milk, it’s not surprising that one cow drinks from 30 to 50 gallons of water each day.

“The cows also eat 50 pounds of dry matter each day,” Grangroth added. This is made up of haylage and corn silage, both which he chops up with a chopper; high-moisture corn; protein mix, which contains vitamins and minerals; and dry hay, which adds needed roughage.

Grangroth grows 80 acres of alfalfa and 50 acres of corn, which is usually enough to feed his herd for the year. “All of the high moisture corn I need comes from my neighbor,” Grangroth said.

It takes 3.5 hours to milk all of the cows with one person milking, and about five to eight minutes to milk each cow.

“We start at 5:15 a.m.,” Grangroth noted, with 12 cows being milked at a time. In between, calves are fed.

Once the milking is done, the milking parlor needs to be sprayed down and cleaned, along with clean bedding put down.

When asked what the worst part of farming is, Grangroth said, “Someone has to be here to milk the cows, even on holidays.”

To help with that, he has two full-time employees he can count on, along with part-time help, including his son, Josh.

Grangroth added, “The best part of farming is the variety – chopping hay, new calves, and working with the cows. Because I love what I do, I do a better job, which will make me more successful in the long run.”

Grangroth’s milk is picked up each day by a truck, and is brought to First District Association in Litchfield, along with milk from more than 1,000 other farmers in a 100-mile radius.

Find out what happens to the milk there in a later issue.

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