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Published October 22, 2007, 12:00 AM

Minnesota Holstein herd the nation's oldest

NICOLLET, Minn. - Holsteins arrived on the Swenson farm in 1885.

By: By Melissa Mussman, Rochester (Minn.) Agri News

NICOLLET, Minn. - Holsteins arrived on the Swenson farm in 1885.

Paul Swenson and his wife, Cindy, are the fifth generation to milk Holsteins on the Nicollet County, Minn., farm, and are the owners of the nation's oldest registered Holstein herd.

“Holsteins have been our livelihood,” Paul says. “The Holsteins have always been a predominant milk cow throughout the generations.”

“It is amazing to know that the farm has been going on that long,” Cindy says. “It is still profitable, and it is still a progressing dairy in the industry.”

The couple is proud that their herd is the oldest one in the country.

The Swensons also raise bulls and have five contracts with artificial insemination companies.

“It is a pretty amazing feeling to know one of our bulls has made it in the lineup with Accelerated,” Paul says. “It is neat to see something we bred and raised make it that far.”

The Swenson herd also was the source of the University of Minnesota Twin Cities herd. In the early 1900s, Professor Haecker came to the Swenson's Forest-Lawn Holsteins farm to purchase a Holstein cow to start the campus herd.


Forest-Lawn Holsteins continues to modernize. The Swensons built a new free stall barn in 1996 and a double 6 parallel parlor. They milk 182 registered Holsteins.

Paul and Cindy have two children, Chris, 18, and Ashley, 16, who are involved with the Minnesota Junior Holstein Association. The children also show at the Nicollet County Fair every year, carrying on a nearly 60-year family tradition, and have been involved in dairy judging. Ashley is a Nicollet County Dairy Ambassador.

Chris and Ashley have introduced a new breed to the farm: Brown Swiss.

“The kids each bought a Brown Swiss calf and are now even involved in the Brown Swiss Association,” Paul says. “This is something they are able to do on their own.”

The kids are beginning to start their journeys off the farm, and Paul and Cindy hope someone will want to continue the family's Holstein tradition.