By Michele F. Mihaljevich
KENDALLVILLE, Ind. – Growing up on dairy farms in northeast Indiana, Abbie and Steve Herr saw how much their parents worked and how difficult the life could be.
“There are hard days on the farm,” Abbie noted. “When you have a sick animal, there’s blood, sweat and tears, but when you see it through and it gets better, that’s rewarding. There are more good days than bad days, which I’m grateful for. Farming is definitely not for the faint of heart.”
The Herrs, who farm with Steve’s parents on the land where he grew up, have been named 2023 Young Producers of the Year by the Indiana Dairy Producers Association.
As dairy farmers, Abbie said it’s rewarding to know they’re supplying a nutritious product. They also enjoy working with their animals.
“We love our animals,” she explained. “They’re the best part (about being a dairy producer). It’s also important for us to know our daughters (Alexis and Sadie) can see what their parents do everyday. We can have them on the farm everyday. It’s neat to watch them go out and pet a cow.”
Abbie said she and Steve were dumbfounded when they were told they had won the award.
“We didn’t even realize the young producers award was a thing,” she said. “I went online and looked up past award winners. To be ranked among them is an honor. We were both kind of shocked, but we’re super grateful and super honored to be named. We’re very appreciative.”
Abbie grew up on a little dairy farm in South Whitley, Ind. Her family later left that operation and in high school, she worked for a local dairy farmer. “I’ve been around cows all my life. I say that milk is in my blood.”
Steve is a 4th generation dairy farmer. “We’re a 4th generation raising the 5th generation,” she stated.
Technology is important to the Herrs. Five years ago, they installed DeLaval robotic milkers – they have eight. “We switched to robotics due to labor issues,” Abbie said. “Finding people to come into work was difficult. But at the time, our daughters were 3 and 5. Spending time with them was a major thing for us. The agriculture industry is always advancing and to be a part of that advancement is pretty awesome.”
Steve makes replacement parts for the milkers using a 3D printer. He also makes some parts out of metal. Quite a few farms have tested the parts he’s made, Abbie said. “He likes the engineering part of it,” she said. “He likes to figure out what he can do to better the operation.”
The Herrs have 430 milking cows. The majority of the cows are Holsteins, but they also have some Jerseys, Red Holsteins and Jersey/Holstein crosses.
To help tell their story, the Herrs offer farm tours and share their experiences on social media.
Some tour participants have been on a farm and some haven’t, she noted. “We had a group of students and many couldn’t believe the amount of work that goes into a dairy farm day to day. From feeding the cows to the bedding to the maintenance on the robotics, they couldn’t believe the manual labor that’s involved.”
As for social media, Abbie said other producers also use it to share their stories.
“Every farm is different. I’m not like them and they’re not like me. I like to share about the farm, cows, calves. We take very good care of our animals. We’re doing our best to make sure they live a long life. They’re amazing and we want people to see them.”
The Herrs may be found on Facebook at Herr Dairy Farm, Inc., and on Instagram at herrdairyfarm.