Watertown, Wis., dairy farm Rosy-Lane Holsteins is the winner of a national award for Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability. The ninth annual U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards were announced April 22 in recognition of Earth Day. The Watertown farm is owned by Lloyd and Daphne Holterman and their partners, Tim Strobel and Jordan Matthews, and is one of three national winners in its category.
The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, established under the leadership of dairy farmers, recognizes dairy farms, businesses and partnerships whose practices improve the well-being of people, animals and the planet. The award winners represent dairy’s commitment to sustainability, demonstrating how transparency and ingenuity lead to sustainable and scalable practices that benefit their businesses, communities and the environment.
“Rosy-Lane Holsteins exemplifies our industry’s commitment to sustainability,” says Patrick Geoghegan, executive vice president of industry relations for Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin. “They demonstrate that caring for the environment, our cows and our communities is what dairy farmers stand for every day. These are the stories that are important to today’s consumer and matter to the future of our industry.”
Rosy-Lane’s emphasis on cow health started with incorporating cattle genetic technologies more than 25 years ago, breeding cows that live longer and are less susceptible to disease and illness. Genetics also helps the farm work toward its goal of producing 1.7 pounds of milk for every 1 pound of feed for the milking herd. The average U.S. dairy farm attains about 1.5 pounds of milk, according to Cornell University.
Another benefit of Rosy-Lane’s genetics program is the farm has not used antibiotics on its milking herd for more than seven years, and a veterinarian is rarely called to treat a sick animal.
“It’s really no different than a family of humans that live a long, healthy life,” Lloyd Holterman says. “Good genetics allow us to have a healthy family of cows that has the ability to ward off illness and disease. The breeding decisions we made have paid off.”
The dairy’s commitment to sustainability is ingrained in the farm’s everyday philosophy with its 20 employees.
“We’re strong on setting protocols about the environment, our cows and our people, and then making sure everyone is in alignment,” Daphne Holterman says. “As a team, we work to get better every day.”
The farm’s environmental stewardship is evident through several examples. Water is used three times before it is mixed with cow manure and applied to fields to nourish the alfalfa and corn crops that feed the cows. The farm added the infrastructure to store and process corn at the farm, minimizing waste and the need for it to be hauled in from outside the dairy.
Standout in dairy industry
“Numerous dairy farmers are deserving of recognition for a commitment to sustainability. Rosy-Lane is a clear standout among them. Daphne, Lloyd, Tim and Jordan and the rest of their team epitomize the dedication of farmers to their animals, their employees, their community and our natural resources. And, with all they have achieved, their passion to continuously improve is as strong as ever,” says Tim Trotter, executive director of Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative, who submitted the nomination. “We could not be prouder to be associated with such an extraordinary representative of the dairy community.”
The farm team hosts an average of two tours per week, where they explain their sustainability efforts in layman’s terms. Every tour ends with cheese from Saputo, where the farm’s milk is shipped, to help connect the dots from farm to fork. The farm also hosts hundreds of international visitors annually during World Dairy Expo and throughout the year.
Rosy-Lane Holsteins is a member of the local Chamber of Commerce, and team members are often asked to speak to local and international groups to share their philosophies and accomplishments.
Judges evaluated dozens of nominations for the U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards based on economic, environmental and community impact. The independent judging panel — including experts working with and throughout the dairy community — also considered learning, innovation, scalability and replicability in every nomination.