Robotic milking gives Sellner Dairy a little more sleep | News, Sports, Jobs

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BROWN COUNTY — Thanks to modern-day automation, Sellner Dairy chores have begun a little bit later in the morning since three robotic milking machines were added in 2016.

The Sellners get up at about 6 a.m. to do farm chores these days. In 2016, they got up to begin chores at 4:30 a.m.

Loran Sellner talked about how life changed with the robotic milkers were installed.

“They’re more efficient. There’s less mental stress on me,” Loran said. “I don’t have to worry whether or not workers will show up.”

Loran said the cows line up in the barn by themselves to be milked, kind of like a bunch of ladies lined up to get into a bathroom.

“You still need to spent the time in the barn. I usually have to bring some cows to the robots,” Loran said.

“I haven’t had a cow get real upset on this (robotic milker) yet,” he added. “It takes two and one-half weeks to get them trained (to use it). What I like about them is they work 24-7 and they’re reliable.”

Cow calves are often mooing in the barn.

“It’s calving season,” said Maggie Sellner who will begin her teaching career with second-grade students at New Ulm Area Catholic School this fall.

The Sellners have about 20 Holstein calves due this summer. They sell bull calves at three to seven days and milk about 180 cows year around.

They farm about 250 acres of corn, corn silage, alfalfa, soybeans and grow most of their herd’s feed needs. They rent about 100 acres of alfalfa for feed.

Sellner Dairy was named the 2023 Brown County Farm Family of the Year by the University of Minnesota Farm Family Recognition Program. They were recognized with other county farm families of the year at Farmfest this year.

Loran said managing a profitable dairy farm has been particularly challenging with falling milk prices like $13 a hundred weight and $6 corn used to make feed.

“Farm goes in cycles but gets more challenging every day,” said Loran.

In 2000, the Sellner’s built a free-stall barn and parlor. The farm produces more than 4.4 million pounds of milk each year.

Loran and Heidi Sellner run the farm with help from their three children.

Loran oversees all aspects of the farm, including milker operation and herd reproduction.

Heidi takes care of baby calves, young stock, cow transition and farm financials. She also works for the Minnesota Dairy Initiative Program that helps existing and potential dairy producers succeed with team-based on-farm education, resources and networking.

Gracie Sellner is a South Dakota State University freshman majoring in ag education with an animal science minor. She helps with livestock and loads, hauls and racks hay.

Adam and Maggie Sellner work full-time off the farm but return to help with harvest. Adam and his wife Haylee live in New Ulm. Maggie and her fiancée, Tyler Kohout, got married Aug. 5 on the farm.

The Sellners are very involved in the Brown county 4-H program. They also serve on Brown County American Dairy Association and Holstein Association boards.

In addition, the Sellner childen all participated in the Sleepy Eye FFA chapter. Maggie was Brown County Dairy Princess in 2014. Gracie is the current Brown County Dairy Princess.

Heidi served on the Brown County Extension Committee. Loran coached Stark Bi-County baseball.

Sellner Dairy was homesteaded in 1858 by Loran’s great-great grandfather, Hubert Zander, who emigrated from Prussia. The farm has been handed down through generations. Loran’s mother, Grace Zander Sellner, is the only woman to inherit the farm.

Loran told a dramatic story about his great-great grandfather Zander.

“He was forced off the farm by the Indians and took refuge with other farmers near Schell’s Brewery,” added Loran. “We’ve been here ever since.”

Loran and Heidi were married in 1992. They took over the farm a year later and tripled the size of the dairy herd to 200 cows.

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