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Middendorfs to host June 22 breakfast on the farm

By Carol Stender
cstender@agrinews.com

Date Modified: 06/24/2013 1:02 PM

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VERNDALE, Minn. — Dan and Rosie Middendorf enjoy sharing their story with others.

The couple has hosted school groups, farm workshops and the Todd County Breakfast on the Farm on their MiddMinn Dairy farm near Verndale.

"This place is like an open house all the time," Dan said with a smile.

They are opening their arms to visitors again on June 22 as they host Breakfast on the Farm for a second year. The event includes breakfast, farm tours and plenty of room to romp, play and visit in their ample farmyard.

Everyone is invited and they expect parents to bring their children, Dan said.

"You are expected to turn them loose," he said. "We just tell the kids to stay on the grass. We want them to play with the dogs and see the farm. We want them to see what's going on at the farm and to see where their food comes from."

Visitors will first notice cows grazing on pasture. MiddMinn Dairy is a certified organic farm that is forage based. They own 205 acres and rent another 225 to 250 acres, Dan said. It is good land for livestock. There are two soil types in the area — clay and sand. The clay-based soils are also rocky.

They put in a center pivot nine years ago for 60 acres of sandy soil pasture and are pleased with the results. Studies of their irrigated pasture show that the center pivot paid for itself within the first few years.

Since they put in irrigation, they haven't seeded the pasture, he said.

"When we had it in dry land, it seemed like every two to three years we were doing something to it because the dry conditions will kill clover," he said. "Sometimes we have added calcium or sulfur. But you add the water it's instant grass."

The grass is thick and deep green. They move cows to a new paddock after 36 hours of grazing, he said.

They have three fields designated for haying and are building cover crops.

Middendorf's 130 milk cows and another 20 cows owned by employee Josh Grundyson graze in the paddocks.

They have developed a line of cattle that works well in their grass-based system. The herd's lineage includes Aryshires, Normande, Milking Shorthorn and the Bavarian breed, Fleckveih. The cattle are long bodied with short legs, he said.

Dan keeps bull calves that can continue to deliver the traits they've found desirable for their operation. They look for polled animals and bulls that can produce calf birth weights at 70 to 75 pounds.

"I am pretty fussy with what we keep," Dan said.

They look for cows that breed back easily.

The Middendorfs have used artificial insemination more in the past two years, he said.

They finish calving around July 1 and start again Sept. 1.

Dan and Rosie moved from West Union to their Todd County farm 13 years ago. While the land might not be of the highest quality, there are opportunities to farm in the region. It's a good place to get started and has all the infrastructure needed.

They renovated the farm and replaced the double-six herringbone parlor in 2001 with a 12-unit swing parlor. Dan likes the cow flow in the swing parlor, he said. He milks around 45 cows in a hour with the parlor.

The free-stall area was also renovated into a holding area. All cows are housed outdoors. The landscape and trees provide natural windbreaks for the herd.

Their Breakfast on the Farm event starts at 8 a.m. and ends around noon. The Todd County Farm Bureau is serving pancakes, sausages, strawberries and ice cream.