From translating complex nutrition research to being an industry pioneer, dairy leaders to receive recognition during World Dairy Expo

Carol Spaeth-Bauer
Wisconsin State Farmer
Dr. Randy Shaver is pictured, left, in this April 22, 2013 photo during a dairy science student field trip to SunBurst Dairy, Belleville, WI.

Nominated and selected by their peers for their contributions and excellence in the dairy industry and their community, Dr. Randy Shaver, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Department of Dairy Science and Janina Siemers of Siemers Holsteins will receive awards for Industry Person of the Year and Dairy Woman of the Year respectively during the 2019 World Dairy Expo Recognition Awards presented during the 53rd annual event, Oct. 1-5 in Madison. 

The Wisconsinites are joined by fellow honorees, Dairyman of the Year, Steve Maddox of Maddox Dairy, Burrel, Calif., and International Person of the Year, Dr. Julio A. Brache Arzeno, Rica Group, Santo Domingo, DN, Dominican Republic.

Industry Person of the Year

Shaver was surprised, humbled, and very appreciative of the industry recognition.

For more than three decades, Shaver has been conducting research and teaching at the UW-Madison where he has dedicated himself to translating complex nutrition research results into practical feeding recommendations for the dairy industry.

His contributions during his career are lengthy including the establishment of corn silage as a predominant forage in dairy cattle diets, corn silage hybrid evaluation, improved corn silage maturity and moisture content at harvest, corn silage kernel processing and improvements, and optimized forage length of chop guidelines.

In 1989, Shaver hosted an applied nutrition conference that has now grown into the 4-State Applied Nutrition and Management Conference in Dubuque, Iowa, that attracts more than 600 annual conference participants.

Dr. Randy Shaver, UW-Madison, is pictured during a dairy science student field trip on April 22, 2013, to SunBurst Dairy, Belleville, WI.

He is also credited for reducing phosphorus feeding to lactating dairy cows, increasing focus on starch in dairy cattle diets, use of fecal starch as a dairy farm diagnostic tool and increased use of rumen-protected methionine in dairy cattle diets.

Shaver's interest in dairy science started on the small Holstein dairy farm where he was raised in southwestern Pennsylvania. 

He completed Bachelors, Masters and Doctoral degrees in dairy and animal sciences at Penn State University, University of Maryland and University of Wisconsin – Madison, respectively.

While Shaver always enjoyed the cropping and feeding aspects while growing up on the farm, it was an independent study project in a nutrition lab during his undergraduate degree program at Penn State that got the ball rolling. 

"Feeding and nutrition represents about half of the cost of producing milk, impacts milk yield and composition and thus revenues generated and is important to herd reproduction and health, with benefits from improvements noted fairly quickly," Shaver said in an email. "So translating research-based information to dairy farmers and their nutritionists and feed suppliers seemed like an obvious focal point for me."

Shaver enjoys having the flexibility in his extension-research position "to be able to work closely with so many colleagues, farmers, agri-business professionals, consultants and students, and to have had the opportunity to perform educational outreach programs internationally," he said. 

In his position Shaver also enjoys technology adoption, the change of ever improving cows and crops and the many dedicated people in the dairy industry.

During his tenure, Shaver has advised or co-advised over 30 masters or doctoral students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and authored or co-authored more than 100 peer-reviewed journal publications, 200 scientific abstracts, more than 100 popular-press articles in industry trade magazines, and several hundred newsletter articles, extension handouts or bulletins and internet publications.

Dr. Randy Shaver from the UW-Madison, examines feed.

Shaver has served in leadership roles for Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin, American Dairy Science Association, American College of Animal Sciences and American Registry of Professional Animal Scientist. Additionally, he  has  received numerous awards. 

Throughout his lengthy and successful career, Shaver feels his biggest contribution to the dairy industry is Increased and improved corn silage utilization.

"Its high yield, quality and consistency drives high milk per acre," Shaver said.

Dairy Woman of the Year

Janina Siemers is described as a pioneer and forward thinker at Siemers Holsteins, and an instrumental player is building the farm and seeing it come to fruition but she says she does what she does, mostly behind the scenes and does what she thinks is best for the cattle, the farm and their team.

Janina Siemers

Siemers farms with her husband, Dan, and sons Jordan and Connor, at Siemers where they have a herd of more than 2,700 Registered Holsteins. 

While Siemers is honored and humbled to be chosen Dairy Woman of the Year, "truthfully this is a family and farm recognition," she said in an email.

The daughter of Dutch immigrants, Siemers was born and raised on a progressive dairy farm in California. Her parents instilled in her the qualities of working hard, doing her best and not taking things for granted. She grew up feeding calves and heifers, helping with fresh cows, working in the fields with her dad irrigating the corn and alfalfa, mowing lawns and cleaning. 

She received her Bachelor of Science in business management and organizational behavior from the University of the Pacific, Stockton. While at school, Siemers worked weekends to relieve farm staff for their time off. 

Siemers moved to Wisconsin in 1995 after marrying Dan in 1994. One of her first job responsibilities was to do all data entry for their cattle. Before their big move to their new farm in August 1995, there was never a computer system in place. 

Siemers Holstein, Newton, Wisconsin.

"The system the family had purchased did not interface with Boumatic, so we knew we had to go with something that was proven," Siemers said. "Dairy Comp (305) seemed to be the right fit for our farm."

Siemers said she was blessed to have Dr Steve Eicker as one of her go-to sources as well as Steve Stewart and Dr. Paul Fricke, who were all involved with Dairy Comp 305.

"I loved the challenge of learning the program and developing commands that would help us manage the herd more thoroughly," Siemers added.  

After learning how to use Dairy Comp 305, Siemers began assisting local dairies as they transitioned to the technology. 

"One of my jobs was to train everyone on the farm how to use this software and create items and commands for the everyone to use and understand. I was asked by others if I was willing to share my skills with them, and I felt that was a good thing to do. It forced me to learn even more," said Siemers."When the farm expanded we asked a lot of people a lot of questions, and people were so generous with their time and expertise, helping others just felt like something I could do."

With the dairy industry always changing - from rules and regulations, to National FARM - "we have to stay current of what is expected of us and the industry," said Siemers. 

When her children, nieces and nephews became involved in Dairy Quiz Bowl, Siemers began coaching, still offering her knowledge and skill as the coach of the junior quiz bowl team in Manitowoc County. 

Janina Siemers, back center, is pictured with one of her dairy bowl teams with her niece Lauren, Clarissa and Garrett Ulness and Brianna Meyer at the Dairy Bowl nationals in Traverse City in 2018.

"Coaching Dairy Bowl, I feel that I have to give current and accurate information, so I need to do my homework," Siemers said. "These kids deserve to learn everything they can — they are our future and I want to see them learn as much as they can, and ask as many questions as they want. If they are excited about learning, I will do best to always help them keep that interest."

For Siemers, being part of the fifth generation at Siemers Holsteins is an honor and privilege. 

"We hope to offer similar opportunities to the sixth generation," added Siemers. "I’m so grateful that I get to do what I love, thankful I get to farm with my family and blessed to have so many wonderful people in our lives that we get to share in this “journey” called farming."

As Siemers accepts the award for Dairy Woman of the Year, she is thankful for all the hard working women who were honored before her — and for those who work hard every day.

"I dedicate this to you as well," Siemers said. 

Carol Spaeth-Bauer at 262-875-9490 or Follow her on Twitter at cspaethbauer or Facebook at