Host Farms: Past and Present

2019 marks the 12th Annual Chippewa Valley Farm-City Day

2019 Host: Denmark Dairy LLC

In 1885, at just 15 years of age, Anton Kragness emigrated from Norway to the United States.  After working several years as a farm laborer in Texas and the Midwest, he purchased land near Colfax, Wisconsin in 1902.  On the original farm, Anton and his wife Gurine built the original farmhouse, barn and tobacco shed.  After Anton passed away in 1935, his two sons, Lloyd and Andrew, worked the farm by increasing both land acreage and herd size.  Decades of hard work and determination provided for their families and supplied milk to nearby creameries.

Dennis and his wife Mary joined his parents Lloyd and Avis after purchasing Andrew’s share of the farm in 1973.  The dairy grew from 50 to 80 cows in the next few years.  In 1986, Dennis and Mary took over complete ownership of the farm and named it Denmark Dairy. They raised five

children on the homestead farm.  Their only son, Karl, joined the farm in 2002 after graduating from UW-River Falls where both his parents also attended.  He married Mandy Ingli in 2010 and welcomed their daughter Olivia in 2012. Shortly after Karl returned to the family farm, we decided that expansion of the business was essential to improve facilities and to adjust to market forces.

After years of discussion and research, our family decided to build a new facility five miles west of the homestead farm.    By December of 2006, our dream of expanding the farm became reality when we moved 200 milking cows from the original dairy into the new dairy designed to milk 600 cows.  The new construction consisted of a double sixteen milking parlor facility, vet room, office and a 540ft barn to house a growing herd. The new location was perfect for excellent ventilation and also allowed for the forthcoming incremental improvements and expansions.   By this time our work crew had grown to approximately ten part-time and full-time employees.

Our herd size continued to grow and in 2011, we added a 250 cow barn to serve as a dry cow and transition barn.  Then in 2012, our family decided to construct a commodity shed and shop to serve a fleet of farm vehicles.  During this time, our crew of employees also grew to roughly fifteen.  Another barn designed to house 650 cows was constructed in two stages beginning in 2013 and ending in 2014.  Along with this barn came the need for more manure storage.  We added an 8 million gallon lagoon to supplement the existing 3.5 million gallon lagoon to accommodate the Wisconsin DNR requirements for adequate manure storage. 

As our herd grew in 2015, we knew we had to prioritize cow comfort and safety, and efficiency, so we implemented a complex sand separation system designed to reclaim over 90% of the sand and reuse it for bedding.  This was a large investment, however it eliminated purchasing 25 – 30 loads of sand a week for bedding.  It also removed the sand from the manure so it did not need to be hauled out to the fields. 

In addition to the sand recycling system, we designed an innovative barn in 2017 with future plans for a rotary parlor.  One quarter of this mechanically ventilated barn was constructed over the winter of 2017 and was fully functional by the spring of 2018.   This barn was initially built for 400 dry cows and a calving center with the intention to convert it to a lactating facility in the future.  At the same time we converted the parlor from a double 16 to a double 19 to facilitate milking our 1600 cows three times a day. 

The spring of 2019 brought on a whole new adventure when Denmark Dairy decided to purchase a 900 cow farm near Ridgeland, WI.  The transition of ownership was relatively easy because the farm was already well run and the family was also respected in its community.  The plans are to use this facility for milking 1st lactation animals while using the Colfax farm for transition cows and 2nd and greater lactation animals.

Today we are milking approximately 2,400 cows and farming over 4,500 acres between the two farms.  We have close to 40 employees and looking to add more.  Our calves are fed pasteurized milk and raised to 6 months before they travel to Nebraska to be raised on dirt lots.  Also, we do the majority of our own cropping, harvesting, and manure removal. 

 Our growth has been essential in this ever-changing market but more importantly we have implemented technology that maximizes sustainability.  Our water is re-used several times from cooling our milk, to spraying down our parlor and equipment.  After it is filtered, the water is circulated throughout the barns to remove manure.  In addition, we use GPS technology to meter crops, fertilizer, and manure application.  As a family, we believe that we cannot do this alone.  With the help from our communities, employees, and all the businesses associated with the day-to-day operations of Denmark Dairy, we can grow together. 

Most importantly, we believe our continued success is directly tied to the health of our cows, soils, and quality of water.  This is why we closely cooperate with the requirements established by the Wisconsin DNR and why our cows and calves are sheltered from the elements and bedded in sand stalls for safety and comfort.  Additionally, fans and sprinklers cool our herd and mitigate flies.  Proper manure application accompanied with cover crops helps preserve and protect our precious soils.  With the proper use of a nutrient management plan and modern technology, we do our part to maintain and preserve our water for generations to come.

Dennis, Mary, Karl, Mandy, and Olivia Kragness, are privileged to continue what Anton and Gurine started 117 years ago.  As farmers we know that producing food for our country is hard work but essential and extremely rewarding.  That is why we are honored to host the 2019 Farm City Day and look forward to inviting several surrounding schools and the general public to participate in this educational two day event. 

2018 Host: Seibels Organic Dairy

Seibel Farms was established in 1917. It is a 5th generation family farm, owned and operated by Chuck Seibel and his son Adam. Chuck’s other son, Justin is also heavily involved in the operation. In the mid 1990’s Chuck began doing some research and decided that the organic market might be something to take a look at. After a long hard look, he took the plunge into the organic dairy farming. In 2001, the farm became Certified Organic.


In 2005 we began to upgrade all of our facility, this was a 6 year project, and along the way we built a new freestall barn, heifer barn and calf facility. Followed by feed and manure storage. During that time period we also increased our cow numbers from 50 cows up to around 140 cows. The final stage happened in 2011 with the installation of 2 Delaval Robotic Milkers. This was a very exciting and rewarding adventure.


Presently, we farm over 1000 acres that is all certified organic. We plant a variety of crop to have a diversified rotation. Those crops would include, alfalfa, corn, soybeans, rye, oats, & yellow peas. Some of these crops are grown specifically for food grade production. We also have close to 200 

acres of pastures that our animals graze on during summer.In 2008, we ventured into a whole new market- direct marketing organic pasture raised beef to customers and retail businesses. This had been a slow but steadily growing business. To the present day we direct market around 20 steers a year. We offer meat in bulk or by the piece to accommodate for each individual family. In the past few years we started raising pastured raised chickens as well. We currently raise around 300 a year.

2017 Host: Bears Grass Dairy

Bears Grass Dairy is located in Bears Grass Valley.  There was a country school and church in the valley at one time. Bears Grass Creek flows near the farm, thus the name Bears Grass Dairy Inc.

We started milking in this free-stall barn on February 12, 2005 with 120 cows, plus calves and heifers totaling 245 animals.  We have increased our herd size to 400 cows, calves and heifers totaling 792 animals.

We operate 1050 acres and raise corn, alfalfa and grass hay, all of which is fed to the livestock.  

Our cows' production average is 80 pounds of milk per cow every day, which equals about 10 gallons of milk per cow.

2016 Host: Alfalawn Farm

Alfalawn Farm is a family farm co-owned by Randy Styer & Heather Johnson, Dave and Karen Styer, and Dale & Shannon Styer.  The farm began in the area by the Styers’ great-grandfather William in the 1850s. In 1910 his son Ben took over the farm and in 1919 a new barn was built to house 36 cows, all of which were milked by hand. In 1958, Ben’s son Bruce and his wife Betty Styer took over the dairy farm, which was up to 58 cows and 280 acres of land. In 1971, the herd was expanded to 93 cows to accommodate the growing family. The barn was lost to a fire in 1981 and a 132-cow tie stall barn with a parlor was built. A 400 cow freestall barn was added in 1997. By 2001 we were milking 385 cows on twice a day milking.

     As of early 2015 Alfalawn was milking about 500 cows three times a day. A decision to expand the dairy herd was considered and made. We are now milking over 2,000 cows three times per day with a newly installed 60 cow rotary parlor. The parlor currently makes one revolution every 8 minutes.

     Alfalawn produces high quality BGH-free milk that is currently shipped to Dean’s Foods and Kemps Foods facility in MN. The milk is then processed and bottled for distribution to many area schools.

     The new facility utilizes many conservation practices to increase efficiency and sustainability. The Styer’s collaborated with their local energy provider to take full advantage of their energy efficiency programs.  Water conservation practices are in place allowing every gallon pumped from the well to be used on the farm 3-6 more times.  Sand bedding is used on the farm for the cattle to rest on with 98% of the sand being recycled from the manure and reused 5-7 days later for bedding. The Styer’s utilize many land conservation practices including no-tillage equipment, grassed waterways, and cover crops to increase ground cover and prevent soil loss in the winter.

     The dairy facility’s North Site (along 290th Street) features robotic calf feeding and the new heifer facility, finished in February 2016. These new facilities are home to about 240 calves on milk and house an additional 1800 head of dairy heifers.

     Alfalawn Farm employs approximately 30 people including family members, who all live nearby and contribute to the local economy. Many of our employees have been with us over 10 years and some approaching 20 years of service.

2015 Host: Arrowhead Farms

Arrowhead Farms is a family farm that is co-owned by Dave and Andy Johnson along with their sons. Arrowhead Farms was named from the arrowheads found on the land in the late 1800’s. However, all were destroyed in a house fire in 1906.

 

Our dad passed away in 1982, when Dave was only 13 years old and Andy was 11.  We milked 40 cows for about 1 year after he passed and then sold the entire herd, but kept all youngstock.  Mom finally put the farm up for sale, but we kept destroying the “Farm for Sale” sign and the farm never sold.  We started milking springing heifers one by one again.


In 1993, Dave & Andy bought the farm from their mother and milked about 65 cows. In 1996, the first 3-row freestall was built. In 2001, the 2nd half of the barn was built, increasing the herd to 150 cows and milking 4 groups in the stall barn. In 2002 the holding area and parlor were added, later expanding to a double 12 parlor. In 2007, we added another 200 cow freestall barn and in 2011 another 500 feet and 200 stalls were added. In

2009 we built a new calf barn with automatic calf feeder. In 2015, the 135 year old barn was torn down to build a new barn to freshen cattle.

 

Calves are raised on the farm until 4 or 5 months and then they are moved to a heifer raiser just down the road. A new freestall barn was built at the heifer raiser’s facilities for the youngstock in 2015.

 

Arrowhead Farms cropping enterprise consists of 1,700 acres with 4 center low pressure pivots. They also own 400 acres of woods in Dunn County for recreation.

 

Arrowhead Farms is co-owned by Dave and his wife Joy, who have two sons, Austin, 21, and Nolan, 19. Andy and his wife Jodi have two sons, Andy, 24, and Alex, 14.  Joy and Jodi have full-time jobs off the farm.

2014 Host: GJ Jerseys Farm

GJ Jerseys is a family farm owned and operated by Gary and Josh Olson with the help of two additional full time employees.

 

Gary started farming in 1995 milking 24 cows and moved to the present farm milking 60 head in 2000.

 

In 2005 a swing 10 low cost parlor was installed.

 

Initially, a rotational grazing system was used and in 2010 a more traditional Total Mixed Ration (TMR) system was implemented while still allowing the cows and heifers to have access to pasture to help with animal comfort and exercise.

 

Today, the farm is milking 200 Jersey cows with 150 head of replacement  heifers. In addition to dairy cows, the farm produces corn, corn silage, alfalfa haylage, barley and oats from its 420 acres of cropland.

2013 Host: Five Star Dairy

Owners: Lee Jensen, Dr. Jean Amundson, Jim Jensen

“Our mission is to produce quality milk, profitably in harmony with nature and each other.”

 

Dairy Farm Info:

  • 1,000 Holstein cows

  • Total 18 Employees

  • Calves are born daily – 130+ hutches are almost always occupied

  • Calves are fed twice daily and bedded when needed

  • Feed trucks mix and feed about 1,800 animals daily

  • All of the pens in the barns are cleaned three times a day and bedded as needed

  • Hundreds of tires are placed manually on plastic to keep the feed preserved

  • 18,000,000 gallons of manure/year applied on 3,000 acres

  • 6,000 gallon semi tanker that tenders the injection tractor and tank

  • Plant 1800 acres of corn annually – 1/3 silage and 2/3 grain = 10,000 tons of corn silage

2012 Host: Sandy Acres Dairy

Sandy Acres is a family owned livestock and crop operation in Elk Mound, Wisconsin. Jeff and Marie Pagenkopf, the owners, take pride in caring for their animals and the land.

The farm was founded by Walt Pagenkopf, Jeff’s father, in 1948 and grown with Jeff’s mom, Mary, after the couples’ marriage in 1952. Throughout the years, it grew as a dairy farm for the Pagenkopf Family.

In 1981, Jeff married Marie, and Marie brought her passion for animals to the farming operation. In 1990, the name Sandy Acres Dairy was established to acknowledge the somewhat sandy land the farmstead stood on.

In 2013, Jeff and Marie made the decision to change focus within the agriculture industry. After selling the dairy herd, the couple continued their love for cattle, animals, and the land by moving to raising primarily Miniature Herefords and a few Braunveih cattle as well as Katahdin Sheep. In addition to the beef and sheep, Boar goats, Gypsy Vanner horses, Miniature Horses, donkeys, Potbellied Pigs, cats and dogs can all be found frolicking around the farm.

2011 Host: Castle Rock Organic Dairy

Welcome to Castle Rock Organic Farms in Osseo, WI. When you choose Castle Rock products you are supporting a Wisconsin, sustainable. organic farms. We practice stewardship of land, body an soul. We believe in nurturing our future generations through quality and craftsmanship of every singe product we create. Our exceptional product quality begins with cows that lead relaxed lives, grazing on green pastures. It is the superior milk that harvests our premium Wisconsin organic dairy products.

Castle Rock Organic Dairy was established to serve the health conscious, passionate and loyal customer. High standards formed by European and Scandinavian immigrants, creating the opportunity for a lifestyle that satisfies both earthy and spiritual needs.

We are a MOSA (Midwest Organic Services Association, INC.) certified organic dairy: raising the crops that we feed our animals. We respect the relationship between the soil health, plants, animals and people. We give our animals plenty of living space, fresh air and sunshine and we do not give artificial hormones or antibiotics. Subsequently, no pesticides are used on our farm land. We strive to keep our farm as sustainable as possible and our animals healthy. If intervention is needed we use homeopathic methods.

2010 Host: Govin's Meats & Berries

Govin's is located East of Menomonie between I94 and Hwy 12/29. We are a small family farm, owned by John and Julie Govin along with our sons, Kyle and Clayton. Our family enjoys sharing our farm with your family. When you buy products from our farm, you can be assured that you are getting the highest quality available from a family you can trust and get to know. 

We raise a wide variety of products for you to choose from. Govin's offers 6 acres of Strawberries both U-Pick and Pre-picked, Lamb, by the cut or custom cut, and our all natural Chickens. In the fall we have our 11 acre corn Maze along with out 3 acres of pumpkins and lots of fun fall activities  You can also bring the family out in the spring to enjoy see and holding all the baby animals in our Lambing Barn.

Here at Govin's we are a back to the basics type farm. We raise our animals the way our ancestors raised animals. All of our animals are pasture raised on our 55 acres of grass. We raise the animals naturally and free of hormones and antibiotic's.

2009 Host: D&D Hawkins Farm

D and D Hawkins dairy farm of Chippewa Falls is one of many area farms that help drive rural economies.  The farm incorporates sustainable tillage methods, cover cropping, and relies on manure instead of fertilizer.  They have switched tillage methods to no-till and chisel plowing to decrease the effects of erosion.  Soil is tilled to prepare it for planting of crops.  It breaks up the soil at a deeper level, leaving more crop residue, making the sill tillage coarser. 

The farm has started to use rye as a winter cover crop.  On top of reducing erosion, rye’s root system helps catch nutrients that would otherwise seep out of the soil.  This nutrient catching decreases the need for fertilizer, and provides extra feed for the cows. 

As a dairy farm, they take advantage of the resources their animals produce.  Rather than relying on commercial fertilizer, they recycle the organic matter produced by their cows to fertilize their crops. 

2008 Host: Schafferland Farms

Pat Schaffer and his wife Sarah hosted the First Annual Farm-City Day, an event aimed at showing people how the industry has changed.

Schaffer says, "Most people have been to a farm, their grandma's farm or their uncle's farm, but a lot of people are already a generation removed."

The Schaffer’s have a big operation, with 55-hundred acres scattered across the area. Giving today’s visitors a chance to see what life on a farm is like.

Schaffer says, "We want to get across that farming is more of a business than it has been just a way of life. We have employees, we have things just like any other business, the same problems they have plus we have a short time frame to do our work."

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