Calf facilities of high-performing dairies

Posted on June 27, 2024 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
What facilities provide the best environment to raise calves and heifers?  Answering that question requires us to first consider each farm’s specific needs and management systems. In March, two Midwest dairy farms opened their doors to a group of dairy producers on a tour organized by Vita Plus. 

Virtual Farm Tour: Level-Vu Acres

Posted on January 24, 2023 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
When Mike and Tim Wettstein of Level-Vu Acres in Cambellsport, Wisconsin, built a new freestall barn for their heifers a few years ago, they had an opportunity to experiment with a new system to raise their preweaned calves and young heifers. The result is group housing that is easier to clean and manage.

Virtual Farm Tour: Mystic Valley Dairy LLC

Posted on October 19, 2022 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
Mitch Breunig is focused on raising great calves and heifers at Mystic Valley Dairy LLC in Sauk City, Wisconsin, and he embraces new research and technologies to help his team achieve that goal. The farm’s commitment to excellence allows it to sell about 150 replacement heifers each year.

Virtual Farm Tour: Felten Farms

Posted on July 28, 2022 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
Felten Farms in St. Cloud, Wisconsin, milks about 400 cows and raises all its heifers onsite with mostly family labor. Eric Felten takes the lead on calf feeding and care. He said he began exploring ways to improve calf management a couple of years ago to increase the efficiency and performance in this area of the farm.

Virtual farm tour: Loehr Farms, LLC

Posted on April 13, 2022 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
Loehr Farms, LLC in Eden, Wisconsin, is a sixth-generation dairy farm.  After a herd expansion, the Loehr family built a new calf barn with an autofeeder.  Herdsman Ryan Loehr said the autofeeder allows him to spend more time with the calves that need it.

Virtual farm tour: DCS Farms LLC

Posted on February 10, 2022 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
DCS Farms LLC in Waunkee, Wisconsin, is a fifth-generation dairy farm owned and operated by Chris Roth and his father. They milk 66 registered Holsteins with a rolling herd average of 32,900 pounds on twice-a-day milking. Roth said his goal is to “have the best 66 cows I can.”

Special edition virtual farm tour: Drumlin Dairy LLC

Posted on December 17, 2021 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
For this special edition virtual farm tour, we visit a commercial dairy goat farm to compare and contrast management of dairy goats with that of calves and heifers.

Virtual farm tour: Pebble Knolls Dairy LLC

Posted on October 8, 2021 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
Pebble Knolls Dairy LLC in Brandon, Wisconsin, is owned and operated by Eric and Danielle Wetzel and Eric’s parents, Richard and Gail Wetzel.  Eric and Danielle’s daughter, Karsyn, began working as the farm’s calf manager three years ago.  As she learns the ins and outs of raising healthy calves, Karsyn continues the farm’s decade-long tradition of mob-feeding calves in group pens.

Virtual farm tour: Redetzkes’ No Joke Dairy, LLC

Posted on July 23, 2021 in Starting Strong - Calf Care

It’s not often that farmers completely start over on the same farm where they grew up, but that’s exactly what brothers Sam and Matt Redetzke are doing at Redetzkes’ No Joke Dairy, LLC in Stratford, Wisconsin.  In 2015, Sam and Matt decided they wanted to start milking on their family farm.  Today, they milk 190 cows and about 75% of the herd is Jerseys.

Virtual Farm Tour: Shiloh Dairy LLC

Posted on March 3, 2021 in Starting Strong - Calf Care

Transition to the next generation can bring about a lot of change and disruption to a farm’s day-to-day operations. However, the Speirs family of Shiloh Dairy LLC in Brillion, Wisconsin, has made it a smooth process by focusing on consistent animal care and continual improvement. 

Virtual Farm Tour: Gar-Lin Dairy LLC

Posted on January 28, 2021 in Starting Strong - Calf Care

Dana Allen-Tully, partner and dairy operations manager at Gar-Lin Dairy LLC in Eyota, Minnesota, was looking to design new calf facilities. She recognized the workforce was changing and wanted facilities that provided a nice work environment for employees that also allowed for workflow efficiency. Autofeeders seemed like the right fit and construction on a new barn was completed in October 2016.

Virtual Farm Tour: Birchen Farms Inc.

Posted on November 23, 2020 in Starting Strong - Calf Care

Raising calves in group housing continues to gain interest among both dairy producers and researchers. The team at Birchen Farms Inc. in Pearl City, Illinois, has successfully raised calves in group housing for about 16 years. While their calf and heifer program differs from many Midwest farms, they consistently raise strong and healthy replacements for the herd.

Virtual Farm Tour: Hilltop Dairy LLC

Posted on September 18, 2020 in Starting Strong - Calf Care

When the team at Hilltop Dairy LLC in Markesan, Wisconsin, decided to build a new calf barn five years ago, they didn’t rush the process and, instead, invested a lot of time into touring and researching barns to design a facility that best fit the farm.

Virtual Farm Tour: Cam-Cal-Kar Dairy Farm

Posted on July 28, 2020 in Starting Strong - Calf Care

If protocols are simple, they are more likely to be done correctly. That’s the philosophy the calf program at Cam-Cal-Kar Dairy Farm in Browntown, Wisconsin, has followed to raise bigger, healthier calves.

Virtual Farm Tour: Finger Family Farm, LLC

Posted on May 27, 2020 in Starting Strong - Calf Care

The team at Finger Family Farm, LLC in Peshtigo, Wisconsin, is focused on using practical strategies to raise strong and healthy calves, which has allowed them to raise only the heifers they need and control heifer-raising costs.

Virtual Farm Tour: Homeland Dairy LLP

Posted on March 26, 2020 in Starting Strong - Calf Care

The team at Homeland Dairy LLP in Brandon, Wisconsin, operates by the KISS principle:  Keep It Simple and Straightforward.  That philosophy has led to outstanding calf health and performance.