When you operate a dairy of considerable size – 1,100 milking cows acres and 2,875 acres of crops along with a lagoon pumping service and a rock-crushing business – you need to be able plan wisely when milk prices are heading in the wrong direction. Predicting low prices looming in the distance, Land O’Lakes member-owners Todd and Louise Malecha, owners of Malecha Inc. farm in Villard, Minnesota, started planning by simplifying their feed ration.
“If you’re going to survive in these economic times, you’re going to have to do it without all that stuff,” Todd says.
To achieve the goal of spending less on feed, while maintaining robust production, the Malechas leaned more fully into their Land O’Lakes, Inc. membership and began working with Purina sales staff and animal nutritionists to find a feed solution that would work for them. The farm already buys its seed from WinField United, so adding Purina to their business was a natural choice.
The fix Malecha and Purina experts Andy Mueller and Jon Melby arrived at was adding a custom mineral mix to their forage.
“We sat down with nutritionists, and the vibe was there. We were on the same page. They were willing to work with us,” Louise says. “Andy and Jon are both very up on things in the industry. They both think outside of the box.”
To the Malechas’ surprise, milk production has actually gone up since they switched to Purina.
“We’ve cut our costs for feed, and milk production has gone up. Go figure,” Todd says with a chuckle.
But beyond the surprising bump in production, Todd and Louise say that the Purina sales and technical staff have been outstanding partners.
“The nutritionist was able to make the ration work for us with our good, quality forages. The cows are doing very well on it.” Louise says. “Whereas before, with other feed companies, it was always, ‘No, you need to add this or that to the ration.’”
The Malechas say that the staff has been key in turning the new ration into higher productivity.
“Because of their knowledge, we’ve added more milk. It’s good business sense to be with them,” Todd says. “The transparency, the way they communicate – it’s a group text. If the cows go down in production, they know what’s going on. It’s seamless communication. And that’s key.”
Offerings from WinField United and Purina Animal Nutrition that run the full farm-to-fork spectrum help set Land O’Lakes, Inc. apart among cooperatives. The Malechas point out that they only buy one product from Purina, but their farm still gets close attention.
“They always seem to have feet on the ground. Andy and John are out here every couple of weeks, and they give us feedback. I’m a raving fan of that,” Todd says.
Aside from buying seed and feed, the Malechas use other Land O’Lakes services including buying tires through BuyPoint, and their son William attended a Cornerstone for Engagement: Co-op 101, an ag leader development training course offered to Land O’Lakes members.
“Working together with both Purina and WinField United feels more like membership, rather than being just a customer,” Louise says.
“To me business is about people. And the people that are working with our herd are passionate about what they do,” he adds. “They’re good people and they’re knowledgeable. I know it sounds simple, but it really is the people.”