Top Minnesota dairy farms honored for cow care

Herds with lowest somatic cell count are recognized by Minnesota.

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The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has honored top dairy farms in terms of low somatic cell counts. (Andrew Link / Forum News Service)

In honor of June Dairy Month, 122 Minnesota dairy farms have been recognized by the state Department of Agriculture for superior herd management skills by achieving an average somatic cell count of under 100,000.

Somatic cell count is a key indicator of milk quality, and a lower count is better for cheese production and a longer shelf life for milk.

“Minnesota’s farmers have faced so many challenges the past several years — low prices, lost markets, and most recently the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic — so it’s really my honor to be able to award these 122 dairies for their high level of excellence and resilience,” said Thom Petersen, commissioner of of ag in Minnesota. “These dairy farm families work hard day-in and day-out to produce high quality, wholesome dairy products for all of us to enjoy.”

Although somatic cells occur naturally and are not a food safety concern, dairy farmers monitor them because they can be used as a measure of the health of their cows. Processors also pay a premium for milk with low counts. A farmer whose herd has a very low count can receive a significantly higher price per hundredweight compared to a farmer whose herd average is high.

For more than a decade, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and University of Minnesota dairy experts have worked with the state’s dairy farmers to lower somatic cell counts. When the initiative began in 2003, the 100 herds honored that year included those with SCC averages as high as 144,000, compared to the current goal of obtaining a SCC under 100,000.


Farms recognized in counties in southeast Minnesota were Tony and Matt Berktold, Wabasha; Robert and Terri Ketchum, Winona; Edward Warmka Gathje, Winona; Maynard and Jeremiah Schumacher, Wabasha; Schreiber Brothers Dairy, Winona; Barkeim Farms LLC, Winona; Craig Duden, Goodhue; Roger Mathews, Olmsted; Maren Holst, Wabasha; Bill Miller, Wabasha; Schroeder Brothers LLC, Houston; D and L Johnson Dairy Farm LLC, Winona; Burfeind Dairy Farm LLC, Goodhue; Selke Farms Partnership, Winona; Ted and Cindy Kennebeck, Wabasha; Birch Point Farm - Peshon, Winona; Dev-Lin Holsteins LLC, Houston; Trevor and Lisa Dicke, Goodhue; Jerry Dick, Wabasha; James A Olson, Winona; Ronald Wallerich, Wabasha; Russel Wirt, Winona; Greden Farms LLC, Winona; Scott and Michelle Herber, Winona; Avon Heights LLC, Dodge; Hidden Hill Dairy, Olmsted; Reiland Dairy, Mower; Schmit Family Dairy LLC, Winona; Stan and Bev Meyer, Houston; Trailside Holsteins, Houston; Matt Andring, Winona.

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