Terrell and Darlene Dallmann purchased the family farm near Brillion in 1964. When they started, the couple farmed 80 acres and milked 15 cows.
Their son Dan joined the farm full time after graduating from Brillion High School in 1981.
"By then we were milking 70 cows in a stanchion barn," Dan says.
Over the years, Dan and his wife, Shirley, slowly took over the everyday operations of the farm, but Terrell and Darlene still help on the farm.
The Dallmanns milked cows in a stanchion barn with a pipeline until 1989. At this time, the farm was one of the larger operations in the area and cows were being switched. In 1989, a herringbone parlor was added. Cow numbers continued to increase.
In 2006, the decision was made to construct a new parlor to replace the outdated herringbone parlor and keep up with more rapid expansion and increased animal numbers. Today, the family farm involves four generations. They own 1,700 acres and rent 850 additional acres and milk 2,000 cows three times a day in a double-25 parallel parlor. They also buy feed grown by area farmers on 500 additional acres. Corn silage, alfalfa and oatlage are grown to meet the dairy’s forage needs.
"I never imagined in 1981 that we would get this big," Dan says, "but I have learned to never say 'never.' I also learned early if you take care of the cows they will take care of you. I was pretty aggressive at a young age buying land. Land was pretty cheap back in the 1980s and 1990s."
Dan and Shirley’s children, Nick and Lindsay are also involved in the farm operation. Both Nick and Lindsay have a degree in animal science with a dairy emphasis from University of Wisconsin-Platteville. Lindsay’s husband, Travis Hanson, takes care of all the maintenance on the farm, including all of the equipment. Nick’s wife, Janessa, is a fourth and fifth grade teacher at the Holy Family School in Brillion. They have two young children, Abigail, 2, and Jackson, 2 months.
Since graduating from college in 2012, Lindsay took over handling the bookwork for the farm from her grandmother Darlene. She also milks treated and fresh cows and does herd health with the veterinarian. Shirley helps Lindsay milk treated and fresh cows and works at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Appleton as an emergency room technician. Nick and Dan handle fieldwork and manage employees. Thirty full-time employees help care for their 4,500 animals, including cows, heifers, and calves.
Dallmann East River Dairy keeps up with the current trends in the dairy industry. Tunnel ventilated barns help keep cows cool on hot summer days. A feeding management software provides a precise diet to be fed to the animals. GPS software helps planting and field work be more efficient and allows getting the most out of every acre. All the manure on the farm goes through an anaerobic digester. The digester was installed in 2012 and is run by DVO Inc. The manure makes biogas which is then turned into electricity and powers about 500 homes.
Because the farm continues to grow, the Dallmanns are frequently adding new buildings.
"After 'Sundae' on a Dairy Farm, we're going to be putting up another heifer barn for heifers that are breeding age to calving age," Lindsay explains. "Our heifers are too crowded."
Day-old calves at Dallmann East River Dairy are raised by a woman who only takes care of their calves.
"We work closely with her," Lindsay says. "The calves come back to the farm when they are five months old and we finish raising them."
Dallmann East River Dairy goes above and beyond regulations for land management and cow comfort practices to ensure that they are a sustainable farm, providing the best opportunity for the family’s future generations.
Since January, the Dallmanns have been attending meetings to help plan the Calumet County "Sundae" on a Dairy Farm. The family is proud to be hosting this year's event.
"It's good for the industry," says Nick. "So many people don't know what's going on in the dairy industry. Opening our farm to the public allows us to let them see what dairy farming is all about."
Nick believes many consumers have misconceptions about large dairies.
"They think large farms are corporate owned, but the vast majority of big dairies in Wisconsin are family owned and operated like ours," he notes.
Lindsay says she wants "everyone to see how clean and comfortable our cows are and how well fed they are."
Some 2,500 people attended the Calumet County "Sundae" on a Dairy Farm last year.
"We've been told to expect between 3,000 and 4,000 visitors this year," Nick says.
Food and fun
Visitors will have lots to see and do at the 31st annual Calumet County “Sundae” on a Dairy Farm. There will be guided farm tours, tractor-wagon rides, butter churning, cheese carving and a Kiddie Tractor Pull at 1 p.m. with registration at noon.
"Visitors will be able to get off the wagons and look at the milking parlor," says Lindsay. "They will also be able to see the manure digester. Someone will be explaining how the digester works."
There will also be Uncle Bobby the Clown, a petting zoo, "Addie" a life-sized cow that children can milk, games and face painting by local 4-H clubs and multiple booth displays.
Burgers, brats, grilled cheese sandwiches and ice cream sundaes will be available to purchase throughout the day. There will also be free cheese and milk. Parking is free. The event is sponsored by the Calumet County Dairy Promotion Committee.
How to get there
Dallmann East River Dairy LLC is located at N6038 East River Road, Brillion, WI 54110.
Directions: Take State Highway57 north of Chilton six miles to the intersection of
State Hightway 57 and County Trunk PP. Take PP to the right (east) six miles (you will go through the Village of Potter) until you intersect with County Trunk JJ. Go one mile on County Trunk JJ and take a right on to East River Road.