"Our focus is to keep the cows comfortable," Janet says.
They also raise 111 heifers and calves. Newborn calves are housed in individual hutches until they are weaned at 2 months of age. They are then moved to group housing and kept in super huts. Heifers are sent to a custom heifer raiser when they are 8 months old and return when they are confirmed pregnant.
David is in charge of the crops, feeding and manure handling. Travis is herdsman and is responsible for the daily operation of the dairy. Janet has taken over bookkeeping responsibilities from Sandy.
Sandy, who is a cancer survivor, feeds calves, maintains the landscaping, works part time at Target in Fond du Lac and helps take care of the 11 grandkids. Roger still oversees most of the large management decisions, but has enjoyed handing over the daily responsibilities of the farm.
Their oldest daughter, Marsha, lives in Stevens Point with her husband, Steve Van Ark, and their son and daughter. Brian and his wife, Torrie, live in Brandon with their two sons and a daughter. Janet and Travis live in Rosendale with their two daughters and a son. David and his wife, also named Torrie, live at the second farm with their two sons and daughter.
Fields are planted to corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa. About half of their crops are used to feed their herd, while the other half is sold as a cash crop.
All fields are soil-tested every three years in 5-acre grids to balance crop nutrient requirements. To help control soil erosion, some fields are planted no-till. They use minimum till on the rest. The Grades also work closely with a crop consultant.
Off the farm
Over the years, Roger has been involved in many community and agriculture organizations. He was a 4-H leader for 25 years and served on the Fond du Lac County 4-H Leaders' Association Board, including one year as president. He is a member of the Fond du Lac County Holstein Association and served six years on that board, including being president. He is a charter member of the Fond du Lac Area Agribusiness Council. Roger has also served on the Badgerland Financial board of directors for 29 years. He was a member of the Pickett Cooperative Board for nine years. He is a Fond du Lac County Farm Bureau director and was a district delegate for Genex Cooperative. He is a trustee in his church, as well.
Janet says she is proud of the farming operation her family has built.
"I am so thankful that my father has a teaching heart and is willing to hand over his wisdom and business to my generation," she says. "I look forward to learning from him and growing what he has started. Someday, I can tell my children and grandchildren that it all started with him, a dream and a lot of hard work."