Our History and Family
The Alberts family began farming in the Pine Island area before the Civil War when Hiram Alberts Sr. immigrated to the U.S. from Ryssum, Germany, with his brother, Klaus.
The beginnings of the current Pine-Shelter Farm operation started when Hiram Alberts, Jr. purchased the smaller farm site in rural Pine Island, Milton Township, Dodge County, Minnesota, USA. that the Alberts still use today to milk cows. Hiram purchased this farm in December, 1910. In 2010, this farm was honored by the Minnesota State Fair and the Minnesota Farm Bureau as a Century Farm. It has been in continuous family ownership and operation since the date of purchase.
Pine Shelter’s registered cattle operation was established in 1919 when Lloyd Alberts, son of Hiram Alberts Jr. and the third generation of Alberts in the dairy business, purchased his first registered cow from the University of Minnesota while attending the School of Agriculture there. He brought the cow home to Pine Island by train. Lloyd purchased several more cows from the University, and four of them had heifer calves. Today Pine Shelter Farms has about 600 milking cows, and plus young stock and bulls, and they are all descended from those original purchases in 1919.
When Lloyd died in 1953, his wife Anna and sons Kenneth and Myron continued to operate the farm. Kenneth and Myron, the fourth generation of Alberts, eventually purchased it from their mother. In 1980, Kenneth’s sons Dave, Duane and Rick, the fifth generation, formed a partnership with their dad and uncle, built a new facility – a free-stall barn with a parlor, and gradually expanded the herd from within. This was a fairly early expansion, and for a long time, Pine Shelter was the largest dairy herd in Minnesota. Now there are two herds over 1000 cows within two miles.
Alberts have continued to expand and update the facility, and now milk about 600 cows – 75 in the original tie stall barn, and about 500 in the double 9 parlor.
Amy Alberts Sauder, sister to Dave, Duane and Rick, returned to the farm from a career in broadcast journalism, and assists with calf feeding. Dave’s two oldest children, Laura Alberts Schimek and Eric Alberts, are involved full time in Pine-Shelter Farms. They are the sixth generation of Alberts to be actively engaged in farming with the family. Myron Alberts died in 1997, and Kenneth died in 2006.
The seventh generation of Alberts are “on the ground” and have begun showing cattle. Makenzie Alberts, daughter of Eric and Angie, has been showing novice calves at the district show for the last two years!
Other family members involved in the farm operation are Dave’s wife Madge, who registers calves using the Easy ID program, and manages personnel issues, and Rick’s wife Terry who does the bookkeeping.
Pine-Shelter’s herd consists of 600 milking animals as well as replacement heifers and bulls. Pine-Shelter raises all its own young stock, and bulls are sold for breeding. Pine-Shelter has several bulls in active AI.
The herd has been classified every year since 1957. Every animal on the farm is registered, including the bulls.
Most Pine-Shelter animals are housed in free stalls with slat floors. Cows are milked three times a day in a double nine herringbone parlor. The tie-stall barn houses an additional 75 cows that are milked twice a day.
Dry cows and bred heifers are in pastures.
We raise all our own feed, except for a few added ingredients. We have about 1600 tillable acres and raise corn, oats and alfalfa. Our land also includes about 500 acres of woodland and wetlands.
Balanced breeding and good genetics are our goals, with emphasis on both type and production. Freestall barns make it very important to breed for good feet and legs. Correct udders are also an important consideration.
We use extensive flushing with Dr. Corey Bigalk from Zumbrota, Minnesota. Our IVF work is done with Trans-Ova Genetics in Sioux Center, Iowa.
Farm Tours at Pine-Shelter Farm
Preschoolers on a tour to Pine-Shelter Farm get a chance to explore the big tractors!
Preschoolers on a tour to Pine-Shelter Farm learn about dairy products.
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