World Dairy Expo named Rosalie Geiger of Reedsville the 2015 World Dairy Expo Dairy Woman of the Year. Geiger will receive the award during a dinner on Wednesday, Sept. 30 at World Dairy Expo.
Geiger began her career in dairy farming in 1969 when Rosie and Randy Geiger got married. The young couple started farming on the property where he grew up near Brillion in Calumet County. They entered the dairy business with very little. Randy's father had died three years earlier. They rented the 161-acre dairy farm from Randy's mother and purchased it three years later.
They married after Rosie's sophomore year at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. While most young women who married at her age quit school, Rosie was determined to finish her education. She transferred to Silver Lake College in Manitowoc for her junior year and graduated in 1971 with a bachelor's degree in home economics and English.
After graduation, Rosie joined Randy full time on the farm. She milked cows and helped do chores, drove tractors, and helped with the harvest. She also took care of their son Corey and daughter Angela.
In 1981, the Geigers paid off their farm and sold it to Randy's younger brother. They moved their young family 10 miles to Manitowoc County and purchased the dairy farm on land contract where Rosie grew up near Reedsville. The move allowed Randy's brother to get into the dairy business and Rosie's parents to retire.
Rosie and Randy are the fifth generation of her family to farm on the home farm since 1867.
Through attention to detail and the determination to do things right, they have built a top-notch herd of registered Holsteins on their 375-acre farm. Their 60 registered Holstein cows boast a 24,253-pound herd average with a somatic cell count that has averaged below 70,000 for the past 20 years.
Over the years, the Geigers have received several awards for high-quality milk. In 1996 and from 1999 to 2011, their herd earned the Manitowoc County DHIA Udder Health Award. For the past 10 years, their herd has been named the Top Quality Herd for lowest SCC for Verifine. In 2002, the herd was recognized by the National Mastitis Council as the National Dairy Quality Awards Midwest Milk Quality Award winner.
In addition to producing high quality milk, cows in the Ran-Rose herd are long-lasting. In fact, the Geigers have 16 homebred cows with more than 200,000 pounds of lifetime milk production. Three of those have produced more than 300,000 pounds of milk.
At one time, Spirit, a cow born in 1980, was the top lifetime milk production leader in the state with 342,501 pounds. Spirit is a member of the world's only million-pound cow family. She and her three direct descendants together have made 1,245,307 pounds of milk. This four-generation cow family has 25 completed 30,000-pound records.
The Ran-Rose herd also has received recognition for type. Over the years, the herd has won Progressive Genetics and Progressive Breeder awards from Holstein USA, and also has had cows earn Gold Medal Dam and Dam of Merit status. Their current Breed Age Average is 107.8. They have seven cows scored Excellent and 29 Very Good in their herd.
To say Rosie is active in the community is an understatement. She has taken the initiative to share her talents with many community and dairy-based organizations to ensure positive outcomes for those involved.
Additionally, the Manitowoc Chamber of Commerce seeks her advice due to her expertise in dairy. For example, at the organization's career day for middle school children, she sheds light on all the career opportunities available in the dairy industry.
"I enjoy the kids," she says. "I talk to a lot of kindergarten through fourth-graders. It's a lot of fun being a dairy ambassador for Manitowoc County."
Rosie is also active on both the Manitowoc County and Calumet County dairy promotion committees.
Since 1994, she has served as a director on the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, including several years as chairwoman, and has served two terms on the National Dairy Board.
"A lot of things I've done I've represented dairy farm families," Geiger says. "And I've emphasized the family because it takes the entire family working together to be a success."
She is also a member of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation State Board of Directors and Manitowoc County Farm Bureau, and serves as the WFBF women's committee chairwoman. She graduated from the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Institute in 2008. She has been Reedsville FFA Alumni secretary and she is active in her church. In 2012, Rosie was named a 2012 Master Agriculturist. Randy won the award in 2010.
Rosie says she is grateful for the relationships she has developed over the years promoting dairy.
"I'm proud of the people I've worked with on the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, WFBF Board and on the National Dairy Board," she explains. "The people in the dairy industry make it all worthwhile. They helped make great memories."
The Geiger family is involved in agriculture. Daughter Angela is married to Nate Zwald. She graduated from UW-Madison with an MBA and works in sales at Zoetis. Nate has a doctorate from UW-Madison and is U.S. sales manager for Alta Genetics. They live in Beaver Dam with their three children Mary, Allison and Zach.
Corey graduated from UW-Madison and is managing editor at Hoard's Dairyman magazine. He owns some land and cows with his parents. He is married to Krista Knigge, also a UW-Madison alum, who is employed by Northwestern Mutual. They live in Mukwonago.
"I'm very proud of my family," Geiger says. "No. 1 is my husband Randy. I couldn't have done it without him. I'm proud that my children are active in the dairy industry and that they graduated from UW-Madison and so did their spouses."
Geiger will accept the 2015 World Dairy Expo Dairy Woman of the Year award on Wednesday evening at World Dairy Expo.
She says she is humbled to accept this award and is in awe of the Wisconsin women who have won this award before her (see sidebar).
"The older I get, the more I realize just what a privilege it has been to be involved in agriculture and especially the dairy industry," she says. "I have truly been blessed."