Today, it is my honor to introduce Joseta Halbur from Eden, Wisconsin. Joseta grew up on her family’s 300 acre dairy farm in Eastern Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin. She graduated with a B.S. in Marketing Communications with an emphasis in Agriculture and Dairy Science and a M.S. in Agricultural Education from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. Joseta works for United Cooperative in Beaver Dam as a certified energy specialist. Her responsibilities have her talking about fuel, propane, lubricants while working with farmers and business owners on their energy risk management needs.
Growing up, Joseta was involved in 4-H for ten years and is currently in her 15th year as a dairy and photography leader with the Taft 23 4-H Club. While Joseta works off the farm, she has the unique opportunity of going home to her family’s farm. Joseta loves cheese and her favorite dairy recipe would have to be Chicken Dorito bake.
Joseta’s Story in her own words:
When did you start farming?
My parents started farming with my dad’s parents in 1977 when they got married. My brother and I are third generation on that farm. I always had barn chores growing up. In 1997, we made the transition to a freestall barn and in 1998, the parlor followed. Currently we are at the crossroads of what to do next. With land values skyrocketing, it’s hard to get good affordable land to be self-sustaining. We are also battling a pending road construction project which could affect our current set-up.
About 4 years ago, when I started my new job, I saw the need for extra help on the farm. I LOVE LOVE LOVE being around cows. They are my sanctuary and there is no better feeling than knowing you are helping these animals survive and produce for a growing population. We brought home our heifers which were previously at a custom grower. We built a new calf barn and that has become my home when I am at the farm. I also take time to keep up with the cows, their reproductive state, and overall cow health situations. I enjoy learning all there is to know about dairy cattle. I also work with our show animals during that time of year and am able to assist in other areas of the farm with light tractor driving, general moving of animals and cleaning of buildings.
What is your role in the dairy industry?
I was born into the dairy industry. After grad school, I took a job with an AI company, had a short stint in dairy farm sanitation practices, and found myself working with the largest cooperative in the state of Wisconsin.
As a millennial what do you want to share with others about the dairy industry?
I take every opportunity I can to talk with consumers about what we do with our cows. At the Wisconsin State Fair, there are THOUSANDS of people and the majority of them have no connection to the dairy industry other than what they see at the fair….PERFECT AUDIENCE! Here is a video I made for National Ag Day with my cow Giorgio.
While some might find their questions annoying, I use this opportunity to talk to inquiring minds as they ask what we are doing with the cows and how much they produce, weigh, babies they’ve had….etc. etc. Nine times out of ten, they walk away saying “”WOW that’s interesting, Thank you.”” This makes me feel good because then I know they learned something. I think it’s important to stress to consumers that if they have questions, to seek out answers from a credible source. Taking a tour of a dairy farm can put them right in the action to learn about the dairy industry.
Who is your favorite cow?
My preferred breed of cow is Holstein. I am a third generation registered Holstein breeder. My grandpa even had red and white Holsteins in his herd in the 70’s. They are a part of family tradition. A cow that stands out in my mind is Linden Dictator Wimble Wimpy…..why??? She’s the first perfect cow of course! The first cow in history to be classified EX-97; the highest score a cow in the Holstein breed can be scored. But when I’m at home with my cows, Burledge Atwood Giorgio is a personal fav. =)
What are 3 things you want consumers to know about the dairy products your family produces?
- All dairy products sold on the market are tested free from antibiotics.
- Farmers take better care of their cows than they do their own families sometimes.
- Consuming three servings of dairy products a day can assist you with a nutritional diet for weight loss and maintenance.
What is the most rewarding part of being in the dairy industry? Challenging?
I have the unique opportunity of being active in both production and as allied industry. I truly believe that staying sharp on one end helps me be better on the other and vice versa. The most challenging part is that sometimes it’s hard to focus on just one job.
What is the most rewarding part of production agriculture? Challenging?
The most rewarding part of being involved in the dairy is having my family there with me. I don’t get to go home to a house full of kiddos so having my brother and his kids and my other niece and nephew, in the barn with me learning and carrying on the family tradition is pretty awesome. The most challenging is dealing with rising land value. In order to grow and remain a family farm, we have to be able to have land and be more self-sufficient. I fear that this will always be a battle…..
Describe a typical/average day for you.
I am up every day at 4 am. I start with a workout, I usually can be found reading a dairy related publication and then I head to work. After work, I head straight to the farm. Usually there is a discussion with mom or dad about daily happenings. I take to the calf barn, check in on the dry cows, check the breeding charts, watch heifers and cows for heats, and am usually home by 8 pm….sometimes a little later if help is needed moving fresh or dry cows.
What advice would you give someone interested in production agriculture?
Every day, I have the opportunity to talk with farmers who have the next generation coming up the ranks. So many of those kids, however, don’t see a value in going to school to learn or see some new tricks of the trade. Going to college is so much more than just sitting in a classroom. Taking in opportunities to learn how to trim hooves, IV cows, breed cows, learn the technologies behind nutrient management plans and planning for your crop inputs can all be brought back to the farm and be used successfully. Even if there is already a system on place on the farm, there’s always room for change. Maybe your dad doesn’t like breeding cows and you are better fit for it…..take the opportunity to learn. Maybe you have had trouble finding a hoof trimmer that can cater to your needs…..learn how to do it yourself so that you can assist with cow health on the farm. Bottom line, there is always something new to learn. Just because Grandpa or Dad didn’t do it or don’t know about it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
What advice would you give someone interested in the dairy industry?
My advice is to take every learning opportunity available. Most college students studying in an agricultural related program are required to do an internship, Do MORE THAN ONE! Pick a couple that is completely different. Also, take the time to learn about commodities. Whether you are in production agriculture or allied industry it’s good to know market trends and understand how far the milk check might or might not go depending on your risk management strategies.
What are other roles and/or opportunities available to those in the dairy industry?
The dairy industry is more than just breeding and milking cattle. There are countless opportunities from animal health/veterinary work, to serving as an agronomist trying to breed a better corn stalk for corn silage, serving as a DHIA technician running milk samples to assist farmers in milk quality, to working with market trends and providing risk management solutions for better financial stability on the farm….seriously the list goes on. If you can dream it, you can achieve it….especially in the dairy industry!
What do you envision the future of the dairy industry looking like?
I would like to see the family farms remain strong. Whether they have 250, 1000, or 5000 cows, I want families working together to produce quality products. With more kids graduating from college, if they come back to the farm, this provides opportunities for additional family members to expand the dairy. Perhaps with custom businesses or taking what once was a hobby and making it an attraction for others to come to your farm and see such as a corn maze or day on the farm activities? Sometimes we adopt new “family members” along the way, and if that’s what it take to get the job done, then so be it.
Joseta, thank you for sharing your story with us!
Entire Women in Dairy Series:
- Joanna Lidback of The Farm at Wheeler Mountain, VT
- Katie Boyke Grinstead of Vir-Clar Farm, WI
- Alicia Lamb of Oakfield Corners Dairy, NY
- Ysabel Jacobs of Ferme Jacobs, Canada
- Heidi Kovacs of Sugar Maple Jerseys, NJ
- Jolene Griffin, MI
- Melissa Woolpert of Country by Chance, VT
- Katie Sattazahn, PA
- Kim Bremmer of Ag Inspirations, WI
- Abigail Copenhaver of Farmstead Nutrition, NY
- Jodi Cast of JJC Jerseys, NE
- Amy Rowbottom of Crooked Farm Creamery, ME
- Britte Nooijens, Netherlands
- Julianne Holler, PA
- Cynthia Martel, VA
- Abby Swan of Kemridge Farm, WI
- Jamie Van De Walle, WI
- Joseta Halbur, WI
- Holly Smith, WI
- Jenny L. Baerwolf of Sassy Cow Creamery, WI
- Jenna Jongenotter, Canada
- Liz Neadow of Teacup Farm, NY
- Hannah Worden of Will-O-Crest Farm, NY
- Carla Wardin of Truth or Dairy, MI
- Amanda Freund of CowPots, CT
- Mandi Pacitti of Misty Brae Holsteins, Australia
- Jessica Chittenden Ziehm of Tiashoke Farm, NY
- Lisa Myers, MD
- Carissa Ann Tolzman, WI
- Danae Bauer of FarmGirl Photography, WI
- Ashley Kennedy of Messy Kennedy, MI
- Emily Lyons, Washington DC
- Joanna Rowher of Hollingstedt Schleswig Holstein, Germany
- Rita Mosset, ND
- Brianne Brown of Beslea Farms, Canada
- Pam Bolin, IA
- Janean Boss-Anderson, WI
- Jessica Peters of Spruce Row Farm, PA
- Amanda Williams, WI
- Trisha Boyce, PA
- Melissa Hanke, WI
- Tara Woyton, NY
- Melisa Konecky, NE
- Lizzie Frazier, NE
- Renee Norman-Kenny of Eat Farm Love, PA
- Amanda Killian of Dirt Road Holsteins, WI
- Kim Kester, WI
- Amy Ruegsegger, WI
- Alba Alvarez Nunez – Spain
- Emily Parker, WI
- Nicole Kearns, PA
- Cheyenne Ryzenga, MI
- Freynie Lancaster of Royalty Ridge, OR
- Maryanne Dudli, New Zealand
- Michelle, Keller, WI
- Ashley Abbott, VA
- Brenda Rudolph of Raising a Farm, MN
- Jennifer Heim, KS
- Janet Bremer of My Barn Yard View, MN
- Iris Barham Peeler, GA
- Laura Daniels of Heartwood Farms, WI