For the past three years Fustead Holsteins has been increasing herd size after moving from a tie-stall barn into a free stall.
In 2014, Brian and Wendy Fust made the move to invest in new facilities near Wausau, Wisconsin. Their son Tyler and daughter Jennifer both live with their spouses and children just a quarter of a mile from the family farm that was started in 1905.
For the past 30 years, Brian and Wendy milked 140 cows in a tie-stall barn. When Tyler came back free stall barn was built with a double-12 parallel parlor. Space was left in the parlor to expand to a double-16.
“Every generation has lived together for a while going back to my great-grandpa,” Brian says. “Today, we’re in the process of transitioning.”
Farm ownership has transferred to Brian, while Tyler is gaining equity in the operation by owning cows, starting the next transition.
In the old, tie-stall barn cows averaged 24,000 lb. Enhancements in cow comfort, changing to three-times a day milking and nutrition improvements have all aided in the dairy going to 31,000 lb. per cow average in the new facilities.
“It has been unbelievable with the transition (in barns) and how well it is going,” Brian says.
Now, Fustead Holsteins are milking 550 cows and raise 550-600 youngstock.
Genetics have been an interest for Brian since he was in high school. That interest turned into an additional business with Fustead Holsteins raising several cattle that have made a difference in the breed.
“When we were in our tie-stall barn genetics were huge,” Brian says.
Fustead Emory Blitz – ET remains a top selling bull for Select Sires, selling more than 1.6 million units of semen worldwide from the bull born in 1996. Brian still has some semen in the tank from the bull, who was known for siring milk producing females and is Select Sires’ “All-Time Breeding Bull.”
Genomics are helping change things as Fustead Holsteins are able to identify superior genetics quicker. However, sales of genetics aren’t as big of a focus now with an eye more on milk production.
“There aren’t any guarantees flushing cows, sometimes it goes good and other times you don’t get anything. Now, I have to have a steady income so milk is our main focus.” Brian adds, “But I still love the genetics part of it.”
Speaking of genetics, dairy farming is in Brian’s genes as a 4th generation dairyman. Brian is being followed in his footsteps by his children and hopefully someday the 6th generation will follow along too with six grandchildren growing up near the farm.