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Hello from “America’s Dairyland”

January 8, 2014
 
 

Julie Maurer

 

Julie Maurer
Newton, Wis.

Family owned and operated, Soaring Eagle Dairy milks 1,100 cows and grows the majority of the herd’s feed on 1,800 acres.

 



Soaring Eagle Dairy is owned and operated by my parents and three of my four siblings. After high school, I had no intentions of farming with my parents, who at the time were milking in a 60-cow tie-stall barn. This led to a decision to obtain an accounting degree, and I worked in a nonag business for 11 years.

In 2004, my parents and one sister expanded to about 400 cows and considered further growth. At that time, a second sister and I joined the partnership. As of January 2014, our youngest brother has joined the business after working for us for two years.

Today, Soaring Eagle Dairy has 1,100 cows, which are milked in a double-16 parallel parlor three times a day. Our current herd average is 29,930 lb. milk with 3.56 fat and 3.04 protein test.

In 2004, we converted mattress beds to sand and installed sand settling lanes to recycle the sand. Making the conversion to sand was a great decision, providing greater cow comfort and healthier, happier cows. This change also dropped our SCC by about 50,000 points, and today we average between 125,000 to 150,000 SCC.

We operate 1,800 crop acres, doing all cropping-related activities ourselves with the exception of chopping. This provides all of the forage needs for the herd, as well as about 75% of our grain needs. In addition, we grow some soybeans and wheat in our rotation.

We raise heifer calves onsite until they are about five months of age. Then they’re moved to The Heifer Authority in northern Colorado. After years of having our heifers custom raised, in 2005, we established The Heifer Authority with five partners with an objective of gaining management control over this aspect of our operation. Today, heifers are returned to the dairy and ready to calve at 21 months of age and are well positioned to transition to the milking herd.

While each family member has a specific area of responsibility, all major decisions are discussed at bi-weekly partner meetings. We hold quarterly team meetings with consultants for the dairy, providing feedback on performance and changes that we might be considering. Key performance indicators, as well as costs for the cropping and dairy operation, are tracked on a monthly basis.

My husband, Rick, who works off-farm, and I have two children, Hailey (age 17) and Kelsey (age 14). In addition to farming full-time, I also do the record keeping for our heifer-raising operation.

When not chasing after our girls, I keep busy as a volunteer with our church’s youth group and serve as board president for the Wisconsin Agricultural Education Center, a non-profit organization with a goal of providing consumers a venue where they can connect with modern-day agriculture.

Maurer’s recent prices

Milk $20.51 (3.52 bf, 3.04 prt)

Cull cows $80-$84/cwt.

Springing heifers $1,550/head

Alfalfa hay (milk cow) $290/ton

Cottonseed $325/ton

Ground corn $176/ton

Soybean meal $444/ton

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RELATED TOPICS: Dairy, Management, Dollars & Sense

 
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