All in the family: WHS FFA member finds niche at Weg’s Blue & White Dairy
BIGELOW — When Jacob Weg enrolled in the FFA as a freshman, it didn’t take him long to settle on his Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE). All he had to do was look to his dad and a couple of uncles for confirmation that a job was available at the family-owned Blue & White Dairy in rural Bigelow.
Now a senior, Weg has accumulated enough work hours and kept accurate records that his SAE qualifies him to receive the Minnesota FFA Degree this spring, during the state’s annual FFA convention in St. Paul.
Working in various facets of the family farming operation over the past four years, Weg has expanded his knowledge of the dairy industry through assisting with animal health and nutrition on the farm. In addition, he is a four-year member of the Worthington High School FFA’s dairy production Career Development Event (CDE) team, where FFA members are tested on their knowledge of the dairy industry through cow and heifer judging classes, oral evaluations on class rankings and written exams that include analysis of milk reports.
Weg said growing up in the dairy business and showing animals in 4-H up until a few years ago helped increase his knowledge of the industry.
“Looking at cows all the time helps give you background,” he said.
The Dairy CDE team will include Weg and Carrie Lovan, and two new members yet to be determined. Weg has competed on the Dairy CDE twice at the Minnesota State FFA Convention, and is hoping to earn a trip back there this spring.
A two-sport athlete — Weg plays on the WHS varsity basketball and golf teams — his work schedule on the farm is limited primarily to the summer months.
“A dairy has changed from when he grew up to when I did,” said Weg’s dad, Gene. “Dairying is now more of a business.”
At the Blue & White Dairy, Michael Weg is involved in management of the operation, while Clay Weg focuses on herd health and Gene specializes in feeding. They have several employees to milk the 1,100-cow herd three times per day.
Bringing the next generation into the operation at this time isn’t feasible, so the younger Weg has helped out where he could. In the past four years, he has worked with the fresh cows, administered medications as needed, hauled feed and helped with the field work.
With the family’s 1,000 acres of crop ground, there’s a lot of work to do in the summer to stockpile shredded corn silage for the cow herd.
The dairy also has between six and eight calves born daily, on average, at the farm. The heifers are kept as replacement stock, moved between a handful of sites in northwest Iowa until they have reached breeding age. When they are pregnant, they return to the dairy to calve.
After graduation, Weg plans to attend South Dakota State University in Brookings, where he will pursue a major in dairy science production. The degree area will provide a “wide open” array of career opportunities he said, adding that he might see himself one day managing a dairy operation.
Meanwhile, Weg plans to make the most of the time remaining in his senior year of high school and the FFA.
He joined the organization because he thought it would be a good opportunity, and said FFA Week activities are among his favorite times.
This year, the Worthington FFA Chapter will host a Drive your Tractor to School Day, Dirtiest Truck Day, Official FFA Dress Day, a Case IH vs. John Deere Day and a scavenger hunt for the student body.
Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.