Karyn Schauf's love for agriculture and the dairy industry is well-established, beginning when she was a teenager in 4-H. But capturing the Alice in Dairyland title in 1977 while a student at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire is what launched her as a spokeswoman for the dairy industry, a role she continued during her employment with the American Dairy Association and later as a director for the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.
In 1979, Karyn married her husband, Bob, who had a herd of registered Holsteins near Richland Center. The death of Karyn's grandfather gave them the opportunity to begin buying the family farm, known as Clinton Stock Farm. In 1981 they moved their cattle and machinery north, starting Indianhead Holsteins Ltd. near Barron.
Today, Indianhead Holsteins is a world-renowned dairy operation recognized for its deep genetics centered around a strong cow family philosophy. The Schaufs milk 80 registered Holsteins with a herd average just under 30,000 pounds of milk per cow.
They own 1,100 acres and grow 859 acres of crops, including corn, alfalfa, rye and green beans, which are sold as a cash crop to a local canning company. They also have a small processing operation that presses canola seed that is either raised or purchased. The oil is used for fuel in their diesel tractors or sold to a feed company. The resulting byproduct is fed to the dairy herd as a high-quality protein source. Bob and Karyn also operate a livestock bedding business, selling about 1,200 semitruck loads of shavings throughout northwestern Wisconsin. Karyn, 58, is a partner and business manager for all three enterprises.
Through wise investment in genetics from many of the Holstein breed's most prominent families and managing and marketing their bloodlines, Indianhead has been able to produce generations of excellent cows. The farm is known throughout the industry as the home of the famous cow Stookey Elm Park Blackrose, Excellent-96. Blackrose was All-American and All-Canadian as a 2-year-old in 1992 and as a junior 3-year-old in 1993. She was All-Canadian and Reserve All-American as a 5-year-old, winning the 1995 Royal Winter Fair. Of her 42 offspring in the U.S., 21 are classified Excellent. She was also one of the first high-profile cows to be cloned.
The Schaufs have been recognized as having the highest BAA in the nation for their herd size, peaking at 112.7. In 2002, 54 of their 110 cows were classified Excellent, and they dispersed the milking herd along with select heifers. The sale was the highest-recorded sale average in the U.S. at that time. They followed up with another milking herd sale in 2009, and have once again grown their herd back from the offspring.
Karyn is quick to note that she and Bob haven't done all this alone. "We have 12 great employees, nine of whom have worked with us over 12 years, and six of those have been with us over 18 years."