Stray voltage solved, Wessels' herds thrive
Mineral Point family manages Holsteins, Brown Swiss
by Ron Johnson, DairyStar,com
| Wessel Farms records a 32 percent pregnancy rate
Joyce, Dave (center) and Rod Wessel of Wessel Farms had a herd pregnancy rate of 32 percent on a 70-day voluntary waiting period last year. The Wessels milk 346 Holstein and Brown Swiss on their farm near Mineral Point, Wis. It's since climbed to 34 percent, according to David. PHOTO BY RON JOHNSON
MINERAL POINT, Wis. - Ask David Wessel about his cows' herd average and he might reply, "Which one?
A recent test on the 212 registered Brown Swiss had them at 24,144 pounds of milk, 1,047 pounds of fat, and 793 pounds of protein. Meanwhile, the 141 Holsteins were at 29,636 pounds of milk, 1,177 pounds of fat and 883 pounds of protein. Average those numbers and Wessel Farms LLC has a combined herd average of 26,285 pounds of milk, 1,097 of fat, and 828 pounds of protein, on three-time-a-day milking.
Another important number is the herd's pregnancy rate. A couple of months ago it stood at 32 percent. It's since climbed to 34 percent, according to David.
With more than 350 cows and 318 acres owned, David and his wife, Joyce, have come a long way since moving to southwest Wisconsin from northeast Iowa 47 years ago.
"We were dead broke when we came here," David said. "When we were in college, if we had $5 in our checking account, we thought we were in pretty good shape."
They came to the Badger State right after David graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in dairy science. He took a job as a loan officer with the Production Credit Association (PCA).
Bringing with him the itch to farm, David and Joyce rented a place and got going with the help of an established dairyman. David brought his affection for Brown Swiss with him and continued to milk the big, brown cows, to help pay for college.
By the time 11 years rolled past, David had quit his PCA job and Joyce and he were able to buy the foundation of their present farm. On their owned land, plus 300 acres rented, they grow 350 acres of corn, along with alfalfa.