Lebanon farmers Jim and Shelly Grosenick hosted the two-day Watertown-Agribusiness Club’s annual Fathers’ Day breakfast on the farm. Photo By Gloria Hafemeister
Grosenicks welcome the opportunity to tell the dairy story
As families become more removed from agriculture, June Dairy Month events like the Watertown Agri-Business Club's Fathers' Day weekend on the farm become even more important for both dairy producers and the general public.
Lebanon dairy producers Jim and Shelly Grosenick hosted this year's event, June 16 and 17. They welcomed the opportunity to tell the dairy story of what it takes to run a dairy farm and let people get up close to enjoy the tastes, smell and touch of dairy.
Shelly says, "I like the educational aspect of it. Our goal was to make it a hands-on thing. I want the connection to be more than just good tasting, inexpensive food."
Shelly explains that many non-farmers don't realize that most farms employ a nutritionist to make sure that every bite of feed each animal eats is nutritionally balanced to keep the animals healthy and productive.
A healthy comfortable cow not only produces more milk but she also stays around on the farm longer and does not require medicines and treatment by veterinarians.
The Grosenicks milk cows three-times a day in a Double 8 Boumatic Parallel parlor that they built in 2004. They get help from one full-time milker and a part-time milker.
Jim handles the management of the farm, herd health, feeding and field work. His dad also helps with field work and during busy seasons he gets assistance from some friends who enjoy the opportunity to help out on a farm.
Shelly manages the calves and orders supplies. The two share the bookkeeping duties.
Shelly also has dairy science and life science communication degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She works full time off the farm selling dairy products for Elanco.
She covers a six county area in southeastern Wisconsin and says she really enjoys the interaction with other dairy producers and seeing other progressive dairy farms around the state.
Their cows are housed in a four-row, center feeding freestall barn.
Because of the milking schedule visitors were not able to go into the parlor but the Grosenicks provided a video showing the milking process.
The farm includes 400 acres of crop land, 300 owned and 100 rented. They raise corn and alfalfa for feed for their herd and have a few acres of wheat. Besides combining his own corn and wheat Jim also does custom combining for area farmers.
Their machinery is stored in two large sheds on the farm. Food for the breakfast was prepared in the shop area with seating in the second shed.
The Grosenick farm has been in the family since 1888. Jim is the fourth generation to operate the business there, growing up on the farm his parents, Lawrence and Gert operated.
He actually took over the business on a full-time basis when his dad suffered a heart attack in 1996. He gradually accumulated equity in the farm and they purchased the land this spring.
His mother remained active on the farm, helping with milking until last year and his dad helps with field work on the farm. They continue to live in the home on the farm.
In the growth stage
Jim and Shelly are somewhat in the growth process on their farm. They would like to build housing for heifers and dry cows that are now housed on another farm and in the old dairy barn.
Jim says, "We looked at how we could improve our production and it seemed like our area of restriction was in the dry cow area. "
They believe they can improve efficiency and production by providing a transition area and dry cow housing. To finance the construction they plan to make room for a few more cows, growing from within.
"As we have heifers freshen we can grow from within without buying cows," he says. "If we didn't increase numbers we would have milking cows to sell."
Both Jim and Shelly are active outside of their farming business, too.
Jim is the assistant fire chief at Lebanon and has been with the Lebanon EMS for 15 years.
Shelly is also with the EMS, currently serving as treasurer. She also enjoys working with youth and is a coach for the Dodge County dairy judging team.
They have not been members of the Watertown Agri-Business Club in the past but they say they will likely get involved with this group in the future.
The club holds monthly meetings with speakers related to agriculture and raises funds at the annual two-day breakfast to provide scholarships for area youth planning a career in agriculture.