Third-generation dairy farmers have deep roots on land

By Jean Caspers-Simmet

HOLY CROSS, Iowa — Jim and Joe Pfeiler are the third generation to raise registered Brown Swiss on the Holy Cross farm that has been in their family since the 1850s.

"My grandfather, Al Pfeiler, chose Brown Swiss partially because of a mean Holstein he had to milk by hand," Jim Pfeiler said. "He liked the temperament of Brown Swiss. He liked their higher milk components, and the way they tolerated the heat in the summer. We stayed with them for the same reasons."

Jim and Joe’s parents, Melita and Lyal, became partners in the operation in 1960 and continued with the Brown Swiss and a farrow-to-finish hog operation. Joe and Jim started in partnership with their parents in 1990 and gradually purchased the cattle and other assets. Now they are buying the land.


"Dad is retired, but he still helps," Jim said. "We also have two part-time employees."

Jim has a dairy science degree from Iowa State University. Joe attended Loras College and ISU.

Jim, his wife, Mary, and their sons Chandler, 11, and Garrett, 8, live on the home farm. Joe, his wife, Kathy, and their twin sons, Adam and Aaron, 12, and daughter Livia, 6, live nearby in Rickardsville.

Pfeiler Brothers Farm has 85 registered Brown Swiss cows housed in a free-stall barn bedded with mattresses and chopped grass or straw. Tunnel ventilation and sprinklers are used to keep cows cool during warm weather. The cows are milked in a double-six parabone parlor that the brothers remodeled three years ago. The free-stall barn and the original parlor were built in 1973.

Jim and Joe attended ISU Extension low-cost parlor tours and worked with Extension to design the new parlor. To reduce costs, they built much of the equipment themselves with Joe doing the welding.

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