June 2018 - Fieber's Dairy
Jun 01, 2018
June 2018 - Fieber's Dairy
What do a golf course, fire department, and a dairy farm all have in common? Well in Goodwin, SD, the answer is obvious. Fieber’s Dairy, founded in 1956, is a family-run Dairy farm east of Watertown. Pete, Rick, Mike, Orma, Tom, Chris, and Donald Fieber are the friendly faces that make up the operation. Orma started with her husband, Don. Mike, Tom, Pete, and Rick are four of their eleven children.
In 1993, the farm raised funds for lifetime memberships to what is now called the Prairie Dunes Golf Course. The lifetime membership fees were sold at a price of $250 each and were used to purchase the 26-acre pasture from the Fiebers. They donated labor, equipment, and time in order to complete the project. The golf course eventually was donated to a nonprofit organization run by the town of Goodwin. It is a beautiful course that is very family-friendly and known for its beautiful scenery.
The Fiebers have also created a fire department for the town of Goodwin. Tom Fieber is the fire chief and every one of the Fieber men are members of the Goodwin volunteer fire department. They try to be involved in the neighborhood as much as possible, constantly trying to find ways to help serve their community. They have been doing dairy farm tours to school children from the Watertown and Clear Lake schools for many years. Don Fieber also started the very first 4-H Club in their area, and Chris is a board member of the Midwest Dairy Association.
As involved as the Fiebers are within their own, as well as surrounding communities, Fieber’s Dairy is quite the operation. Cow comfort is always their #1 priority. “If that isn’t there, nothing else works.” Mike comments on their production priorities. A cow’s health, production, and comfort are all aspects of a dairy farm that the average person does not realize the importance of. “Cows are our equal. If they’re not happy, nobody’s happy.”
With June being Dairy Month, it’s very important that some of the misconceptions of dairy farms get set straight. Mike had mentioned that the most incorrect assumption of dairy farms is that they are very factory-oriented. “It’s not at all like a factory farm. We care more about those cows than a person thinks.” The cattle at Fieber’s Dairy most certainly have plenty of room to graze and run. They are not packed into a small area like some dairies are perceived. The cattle at Fieber’s Dairy are certainly well-taken care of. They are checked on all hours of the day and night 24/7 to make sure they are all safe, comfortable, fed, and milked. With calving all year round, there is never a downtime in the dairy industry. 6:00 in the morning is when they’re fed. The cows are milked at 7:45 am, 3:45 pm, and 11:45 pm every day and their milk production goes to Valley Queen in Milbank. The majority of their milk gets sold to Kraft and some of it goes towards mozzarella production for pizzas and cheese.
Fieber’s Dairy have been involved with cooperatives since the day they started their operation. “Co-ops truly have our best interest in mind. Profits are necessary for anyone to survive. That being said, in the end game, the cooperatives want to see the producers succeed.” With any other business, selling on price is easy to prioritize; however, a cooperative has a completely different mindset. Cooperatives genuinely look to help the producers do what's bes for their operation(s). At the end of the day, the producers are the owners of the cooperatives.
In order better serve Fieber's Dairy, Mike mentioned that an online system to hold their field history would be very beneficial. As part of the first few phases of our new website, Full Circle Ag has been working on a system to do just that. A customer logged-in experience is in the early phases of development. To the Fiebers and any other grower out there looking for the same thing – stay tuned.
A huge thank you to Fieber’s Dairy for being our June Producer of the Month. We wish you the best in your community-oriented operation and look forward to continue working with you in the future.