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Teamwork is key to Siemers family's successTeamwork is key to Siemers family's success

Master Agriculturist: They milk 2,726 cows with a rolling herd average of 37,121 pounds of milk.

Fran O'Leary

February 28, 2017

5 Min Read
FARMING FAMILY: The Siemers family includes (front, from left) Wally and Marlene Siemers; (back, from left) Sherry Siemers-Peterman; Paul, David and Dan Siemers.

Since 1890, Siemers Holsteins of Newton has used passion and perseverance to strive for excellence in the dairy industry.

The Siemers homestead is home to the fourth, fifth and sixth generations of the family on the farm established 127 years ago by Frederick Siemers.

The family originally milked Milking Shorthorns, but Frederick’s wife, Caroline Prange-Siemers, had grown up with Holsteins. She was adamant about the need for better cows and told Frederick to buy Holsteins like she had at home. The first three registered Holstein calves were bought in 1908.

Humble beginnings
Frederick and Caroline were milking 26 cows in 1942 when their son Walter came home to farm. By 1948, Walter was milking 40 cows. He expanded the herd again to 80 cows in 1962. A year later, his son Wally purchased a farm, with the encouragement of his father, for less than $100 an acre. That land eventually became a crucial part of the Siemerses’ now 2,726-cow operation.

Their next big expansion came in 1971 when a freestall barn and parlor were built, enabling the milking herd to grow from 90 to 210 cows.

The most recent transition in management and ownership of the farm was in 1993, when Wally and wife Marlene’s children — Sherry, David, Dan and Paul — held a family meeting and encouraged their parents to build a new facility. Wally agreed to move forward with the expansion, remembering how his father had helped him and Marlene in the past.

In 1995, the facilities were expanded to house 800 cows. When the cows left the home farm to move down the road to the new facility, the herd average was 24,516 pounds of milk with 901 pounds of butterfat and 784 pounds of protein.

With the entire family now involved in the operation, another expansion was completed in 1997, adding another freestall barn and bringing their herd to 1,000 cows. The Siemers family hosted Wisconsin Farm Progress Days that same year and revealed their newly expanded double-24 milking parlor. The herd continued to grow between 100 and 250 cows a year until 2004, when the parlor was increased to a double-36.

With outstanding herd management from the family, the current facilities are at max capacity, allowing them to sell up to 700 cows a year for dairy. There are 2,726 cows on test milking three times a day with a rolling herd average of 37,121 pounds of milk, 1,422 pounds of butterfat and 1,129 pounds of protein. Their somatic cell count stays around 100.

All things Holstein
Holsteins have been an integral part of the Siemers family, and the passion has been carried on through the generations. Marlene Hagenow Siemers was named Holstein Girl in 1962. Her daughter, Sherry, followed in her footsteps and received the Outstanding Holstein Girl honor in 1981.

Each of the Siemers children furthered their education and gained outside experience before returning to the farm. Sherry and Dan both graduated from University of Wisconsin-Madison with bachelor’s degrees. Sherry worked at RuAnn Dairy for nearly three years after graduation, and Dan worked at Sire Power selling semen in central Wisconsin. Paul was employed at Golden Oaks Farm after graduating from UW-Madison’s Farm and Industry Short Course. And while David has always worked at the farm, he also has a degree from Lakeshore Technical College.

“It seems each generation really took farming and raising their children very seriously,” Sherry notes. “When my grandfather’s brothers and sisters would come back to visit the farm, they all had interesting stories to tell.”

Dan echoes Sherry’s comments. “As the fifth generation on this farm, we owe a lot of our success to the previous generation. Every generation pulled their weight.”

Wally and Marlene still live on the farm and help with yardwork and lunches. Paul is the operations manager and also manages heifers. His wife, Jenny, works off the farm. Son Josh attends Madison Area Technical College; children Jake and Lauren are in high school and help on the farm.

Dan is the farm’s general manager. He concentrates on genetics and nutrition. His wife, Janina, is the business manager. Their oldest son, Jordan, is a junior at Cornell University, and son Connor is in high school and helps on the farm.

David helps with feeding the herd and doing maintenance. His daughter, Katie, is in high school.

Sherry works at the home farm and does individual cattle care. Her husband, Jack, is retired. Their daughter, Crystal, is a senior at University of Minnesota-Minneapolis.

The Siemers kids have had a lot of success in the show ring showing both Red and White and Black and White Holsteins at the Manitowoc County Fair, District 10 Holstein Show, Wisconsin Holstein Show, Wisconsin State Fair and World Dairy Expo. The kids also have been involved in dairy bowl and dairy judging. Janina has coached dairy quiz bowl teams, while Paul enjoys coaching dairy judging teams.

The Siemers family has no immediate plans to expand. But after their kids finish school and work off the farm for a few years, they will determine their next move.

“We think it is important for our kids to get their educations and work off the farm before they come back,” says Sherry. “Everyone has to bring some skills and experience back to the farm.”

2017 Master Agriculturist

Wally, Sherry, Dan and Paul Siemers
Age: Wally, 78; Sherry, 54; Dan, 47; and Paul, 45
Location: Newton, Manitowoc County
Farming enterprises: Holstein cows, crops
Size of farm: 5,400 owned and rented acres; 2,726 cows
Years farming: Lifetime
Family: Wally and Marlene; daughter Sherry; sons Paul, Dan and David; seven grandchildren

About the Author(s)

Fran O'Leary

Wisconsin Agriculturist Editor

Even though Fran was born and raised on a farm in Illinois, she has spent most of her life in Wisconsin. She moved to the state when she was 18 years old and later graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater with a bachelor's degree in journalism.

Fran has 25 years of experience writing, editing and taking pictures. Before becoming editor of the Wisconsin Agriculturist in 2003, she worked at Johnson Hill Press in Fort Atkinson as a writer and editor of farm business publications and at the Janesville Gazette in Janesville as farm editor and feature writer. Later, she signed on as a public relations associate at Bader Rutter in Brookfield, and served as managing editor and farm editor at The Reporter, a daily newspaper in Fond du Lac.

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