Czech always knew he wanted to dairy
By Carol Stender
RICE, Minn. — Brent Czech and his parents, Myron and Debbie, weighed Brent’s farming options after a nearly two-year search yielded few farm possibilities.
They considered building a new dairy barn, but that was before a turn-key operation came up for sale near Rice. It seemed a perfect fit for Brent.
The farm came complete with buildings, dairy cows, feed, hay and half the employees needed for day-to-day operations. They purchased it just weeks before Brent’s graduation from the University of Minnesota. Brent started milking May 15, 2006.
He’s made few changes in his first year as the farm’s manager. He hired a management team, kept the milking employees and installed more fans and a sprinkler system in the farm’s free-stall barn.
The 84-acre farmsite has a double-16 herringbone parlor where 830 cows are milked three times a day. The cows are housed in sand-bedded free-stall barns. Manure is hauled daily, but this summer Brent plans to install sand settling lanes in the free-stall.
The herd produces 84 pounds of milk per cow per day and has a somatic cell count of 270,000.
Baby calves are raised on Myron’s and Debbie’s farm near Little Falls, and the dairy heifers are raised by area growers, Brent said. The farm’s 150 dry cows are housed off-site.
The cows receive a ration of corn silage, alfalfa, corn gluten, canola, corn, cottonseed and sweet energy. The hay and silage are custom raised by area farmers.
Brent, Myron and Debbie are partners in the farm. Brent handles day-to-day operations while Myron takes care of the farm’s financials. The farm has 12 employees, including seven milkers, one night herdsman, two day herdsmen, one feeder and a manure hauler, he said.
They’ve named the farm "New Heights Dairy." The name was originally used by Myron and a friend who owned several dairy cows. The two are no longer in business together, but the family liked the name and chose to use it again for the new venture.
Brent concentrates his efforts on the herd and farm management. He’s one of a growing number of young college grads returning to production agriculture. He likes his farm in Minnesota and says the state has a good dairy infrastructure.
He knew dairy farming would be his career path while in high school, he said.
He worked for Select Sires as an AI technician and did hoof trimming on weekends while attending school.
"I enjoyed doing that but it was more satisfying to do it for myself and to see the results first-hand," he said.
He attended the University of Minnesota-Crookston for one year and transferred to the St. Paul campus to complete his animal science degree. Brent was president of the Gopher Dairy Club his senior year.
He credits his dad.
"He always directed me to find the information I need, so I was always learning something," Brent said of his father. "He wanted me to learn on my own. It’s important because things are always changing at a rapid pace in the business and you have to keep up with the technology."
Brent will take some time away from the operation in October when he marries Callie Jacobson. The two met while attending the U of M where Callie now works in the college’s veterinary diagnostic lab.