The cows are milked twice a day---at four o'clock in the morning and four o' clock in the afternoon. Neil has one full time and one part time employee who, along with himself, take turns with the milking. As there are 14 milkings a week, Neil is responsible for five of them. The cows are pastured and need to be rounded up and brought in each time, which takes about 15-30 minutes. "Cows are a creature of habit and they do like a routine". The milking parlor can accommodate eight cows at one time, four on each side. The equipment set-up takes from 30 to 40 minutes, and milking the entire herd takes a little over 3 hours. Neil states, "It takes ten man hours a day to run the operation." The raw milk is picked up every 2-3 days, and hauled to either South Dakota, Iowa, or Minnesota for processing and then, distribution. When Neil and Ruth's children were younger, they were 'forced' to help with the milking. Neil joked, "That's probably why none of them are talking of coming back home..."
The 'bad' is "Mastitis"---a bacterial infection. "It can be treated, but it is hard to get rid of". "Feed is the #1 cost, in addition to the on-going expenses of labor, equipment, upkeep, and replacing animals". And, "if a cow won't breed back, they have to be sold for slaughter".
The 'ugly' is, "No days off". "Milking has to be done whether it's a sunny day, a blizzard, or a holiday". Even worse is when a good production cow is down and can't get up. The day I was visiting, a Holstein had given birth the day before and had become weakened and unable to get up. Neil and his crew were trying to get the cow on it's feet, and would be trying for another few days. Hopefully, the cow would not have to be euthanized.