Heiman Holsteins: another facet of a 'dairy pioneer' family
Heiman Holsteins of Marshfield is the farm side of family-run dairy businesses operated by the Heiman family, co-hosts of the 2018 Wisconsin Farm Technology Days in Wood County July 10-12. Heimans are teaming up with D&B Sternweis Farms, a neighboring dairy, to hold the event.
The Heimans also operate Weber’s Farm Store, a dairy-retail enterprise that puts the farm’s milk in the hands of consumers.
Overseeing Heiman Holsteins are Josh Heiman, 33, and his cousin Andy Heiman, 24. Josh’s parents, Ken and Joellen Heiman, and Andy’s parents, Kelvin and Marilyn Heiman, also have ownership in the farm.
Joellen is a familiar face at Weber’s Farm Store, which was originally her family’s on-farm enterprise. Marilyn is the farm’s human-resource specialist. Ken and Kelvin, with a third brother, Kim, also own Nasonville Dairy, a cheese operation with locations south of Marshfield and at Curtis. Milk from Heiman Holsteins is also processed into cheese at Nasonville Dairy, as well as sold as fluid milk by Weber’s Farm Store.
Josh's older brother Ryan Heiman helps with field work and works at Nasonville Dairy and Weber’s Farm Store. Andy’s brothers Kal Heiman and Adam Heiman help with farm work and work at the Nasonville plant. There are also 11 non-family members on the farm team.
Kelvin stresses the importance of family in all three enterprises and the multiple roles many have. He earned his cheese-makers license when he was 15. While he works at the farm, he makes cheese at Nasonville Dairy and is cheese grader and field representative.
“Our employees also play a big part,” Josh said.
In 2015, the Heimans purchased and remodeled another farm nearby, where they currently milk 475 Holsteins three times a day in a 40-cow rotary parlor. A labor-saving robot post-sprays teats. The herd produces more than 32,000 pounds of milk annually. The Heimans had milked as many as 175 cows twice a day at the Weber’s Farm Store site, but moved the herd to their new farm.
Josh says the cows love riding the carousel. He said it’s more difficult to get them off than on it.
Family welcomes visitors to farm
The two-story rotary complex includes offices and upstairs conference room, which has a large window for watching cows ride the carousel. The Heimans welcome visitors of all types to their farm including many school, 4-H and FFA groups. They’re intent on educating consumers about dairy farming.
Marilyn said most youngsters don’t even have grandparents farming any more. One generation ago come non-farmers at least had exposure to grandpa and grandma’s farm.
“We want the public to see how well the animals are taken care of,” she said.
Josh feels just as strongly about the need share the real story about farming with the public.
“Farmers have to promote the dairy industry and the technology we use today -- and explain why we use it,” he said.
Besides local groups, visitors from throughout the United States and other countries tour Nasonville Dairy. The Heimans take them to the farm so they have a more-complete understanding of what it takes to produce quality cheese.
It was the Heimans’ interest in telling their farm story to the public that was, in large part, impetus for advocating Wood County host the show and then volunteering to co-host the event with D&B Sternweis Farm.
Heiman Holsteins part of virtual tours
The farm consists of 1,350 acres of which 85 percent is owned. The dairy is several miles from the site of Wisconsin Farm Technology Days but is contributing 215 acres to the show. Tent city, parking and field demonstrations are adjacent to the D&B Sternweis Farms, which show-goers can tour on buses during the event. Heiman Holsteins will be featured in virtual-tour presentations in the University of Wisconsin-Extension tent.
The Heimans share manpower with D&B Sternweis Farms to jointly harvest corn silage and haylage and combining. Each farm also contributes equipment to joint harvest operations. Josh says the arrangement reduces both farms’ input costs and need for more hired labor. Heiman Holsteins recently invested in drag-line manure-application equipment which enables both farms to apply manure in a more-timely manner.
Co-hosts long-time friends
Daryl Sternweis of D&B Sternweis Farms of Marshfield said he and his family have been long-time neighbors and good friends with the Heimans.
“I’ve known them my whole life,” he said. “And I’ve shipped milk to Nasonville Dairy ever since I’ve had the farm. And my dad did too for many years.”
“It’s a very friendly neighborhood,” said the life-long farmer of a general willingness of farming neighbors to lend equipment and a hand to one another. It was a natural progression for Sternweises and Heimans to roll together their chopping and combining operations.
Josh Heiman married Daryl and Brenda Sternweis’ oldest daughter, Heather. Their marriage has made the bond between the Wisconsin Farm Technology Days co-hosts even closer, Daryl said. And it was recently announced that the newly married couple are expecting their first child--which would be the sixth generation for both sides of the family to live on the farm.
While Josh takes Heiman Holsteins into the future, his wife continues to be an integral contributor on her home farm. He said they talk shop and bounce ideas off one another.
Heimans adopt latest technologies
In their fields Heimans have been planting brown mid-rib corn silage varieties. And they’re exploring cover cropping for heifer and dry-cow feed. They’ve grid sampled to fine tune soil fertility and use DuPont Pioneer’s Encirca service to adjust nitrogen in-season.
For the dairy herd the Heimans use sexed semen on heifers and higher-producing cows. Beef semen is used on poorer producers and cows requiring a third service.
The family built a calf barn for 100 head. It features two automated calf feeders and four pens. Calves are fed milk replacer. Though an underground milk-supply line from the parlor complex would enable them to conveniently use pasteurized waste milk, they simply don’t have enough treated milk to make the switch, Josh Heiman said.The herd’s Somatic Cell Count is between 90,000 and 110,000. Sand bedding and their DeLaval TSR teat-spray robot are credited with contributing to milk quality.