A Legacy on This Sesquicentennial Dairy

“It’s all about the girls!” says David Anderson, talking about what gets the most attention on Up-the-Creek Farm near Lester Prairie, MN. The 45-head Guernsey milking herd, which David and his wife, Donna, manage, is a high priority.

“The kids come first,” he states. The Andersons’ children, Kevin and Karen, are both studying animal science with a dairy emphasis at the University of Minnesota. Kevin, a third-year student, wants to return to the farm some day. A freshman at the university, Karen competed on a 4-H Dairy Judging Team in November that took 1st place overall at the North American International Livestock Exposition. She’d like a job promoting the dairy industry or evaluating cattle—and is also interested in joining the family dairy. If one or both children return, that would make seven generations of Andersons that have made a living on this family farm, which was established in 1856.

If they do decide to return, they’ll have a good start. Donna and David took over from his father, Glenn, in 1986 and have built the herd into a respected source of registered Guernsey cattle. The family shows at the county, state, and national level every year. In 1987, the Andersons showed the Grand Champion Guernsey Cow at the World Dairy Expo and in 2001 they hosted 250-300 people attending the National Guernsey Convention on a tour of their Up-the-Creek Farm.

The Andersons operate on the low end in terms of cow numbers. They can do so because of the high butterfat, protein, and feed efficiency of their Guernsey cows with a gentle disposition. Other keys to profitability include sharing equipment and labor with neighbors and heavy involvement by family. “If any one needs something, we’re there for each other,” says David.

This year finds David and Donna in a development mode. They put up a new 30’ x 64’ solar open-front barn two years ago and this fall constructed a new 20-stall calf barn. Reasons given for this expansion range from “room to expand if the kids come home” to “better animal health and growth” and the need for a warmer working climate for us older folk.”

Mike Foust of Munson Lakes (MLN) does all the ration balancing for Up-the-Creek Farm. “The Andersons are experimenting with wet baleage to lower labor costs and increase quality and palatability of feed on the farm,” explains the sales nutritionist. “They use corn silage and dry ear corn spiked with shelled corn, and use Purina® EXT Nugget from MLN in their protein mix.” The Andersons also use Purina® Calf Startina with Ampli-Calf™ technology in their calf program and Calf Growena in the growing stage.

David says Mike is Johnny-on-the-spot. “If I need something, he gets it,” says the 6th generation dairyman. “Mike is constantly asking if our rations need to change and talking to us about new technology available,” says David. “Our production and profits have increased with his guidance.”

It’ll be a while before David and Donna will know whether or not their kids will take up the mantle and become the 7th generation of Andersons to make their home and their living on Up-the-Creek Farm. Either way, David and Donna are proud of their legacy, both as dairy producers and as parents. “The farm isn’t about us,” smiles Donna, and David jokes, “It’s either about the kids or the cows. The cows do the work and the kids are right beside them.”

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