February 7, 2023
Travis and Melissa Marti of Vesper, Wis., were selected as the 2023 Wisconsin Outstanding Young Farmers during the 69th annual awards weekend held Jan. 27-28 at the Holiday Inn in Manitowoc, Wis.
When Travis joined the family farm, they milked 160 cows and had 150 replacement animals. Today the herd has grown to 535 cows with 450 replacement heifers. Milk production has also increased, with the rolling herd average rising to 30,600 pounds of milk per cow. The Martis own 614 acres and rent an additional 800 acres.
Travis credits dedicated employees and ag professionals whom he works with for helping him through the farm’s growing pains. He says he is grateful to his father and grandfather for sharing their knowledge and support over the years as he and Melissa gradually assumed ownership of the farm.
Their herd benefits from new technologies, Travis says. BouMatic activity monitors help track milk weights, heat detection, rumination, eating time and cow health. A robotic calf feeder and robotic feed pusher further increase their farm’s efficiency.
“Cows have always been the center of our family’s business,” Travis says. He follows his dad’s advice: “Take care of the cows, and they will take care of you.”
Brody and Carolyn Stapel were named first runners-up in the Wisconsin OYF contest. The Stapels farm near Cedar Grove, Wis., where they milk 260 cows in a double-eight milking parlor. They also raise their own young stock and farm about 960 acres. In 2022, they purchased 600 head of Angus beef cattle and formed Hand Creek Cattle.
Mark and Vanna Leichtfuss were named second runners-up. The Leichtfusses farm in Two Rivers, Wis., where they milk 230 cows and raise 200 young stock. They milk registered Holsteins and recently added registered Ayrshires.
Michael and Courtney Gutschenritter were presented the Speak Up for Ag Award. The Gutschenritters specialize in pasture-raised eggs, lamb and wool products, custom grazing, and farmer-to-farmer education.
Other finalists were Bryan and Maria Baranek, Crivitz, Wis.; Adam and Melissa Baumann, Marathon, Wis.; Brady and Lynsey Broedlow, Helenville, Wis.; and Tristan and Megan Swartz, Gilman, Wis.
Judges for the event were Aerica Bjurstrom, University of Wisconsin Extension regional dairy educator for Brown, Door and Kewaunee counties; Lloyd Holterman, Rosy-Lane Holsteins, Wisconsin OYF winner in 1993 and National OYF winner in 1994; and Roger Sinkula, ag lender, Nicolet National Bank.
Master of ceremonies for the awards program was Millaine Wells from WFRV-TV in Green Bay, Wis., who hosts Midwest Farm on Channel 5.
OYF finalists participated in ag forums about the history of the Farm Wisconsin Discovery Center presented by Abigail Martin. Riesterer & Schnell also spoke with the group. They toured Henning Cheese Store and Museum and the Farm Wisconsin Discovery Center.
The Outstanding Young Farmer program began in 1954 as a national program for the U.S. Jaycees. Wisconsin’s first winner was named in 1952, and 69 state programs have been held since. Wisconsin has had 18 national winners during the program’s history. Visit wi-oyf.org to learn more or to submit a nomination or an application form.
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