September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.

Van Dyk family starts farming tradition

Car accident, low milk prices are obstacles overcome by New Richmond family
The Van Dyk family – (front, from left) Landon and Lane; (back, from left) Chris, Tyler, Derek and Rikki – started dairy farming 14 years ago and are milking 50 cows on their farm near New Richmond, Wis.<br /><!-- 1upcrlf -->PHOTO SUBMITTED
The Van Dyk family – (front, from left) Landon and Lane; (back, from left) Chris, Tyler, Derek and Rikki – started dairy farming 14 years ago and are milking 50 cows on their farm near New Richmond, Wis.<br /><!-- 1upcrlf -->PHOTO SUBMITTED

By By Michelle McNamara- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

NEW RICHMOND, Wis. - Over the past 14 years there have been some ups and downs for Chris and Rikki Van Dyk but they have overcome every one of them. Working towards taking over the farm has been a challenge but they are getting closer and closer every day.
When the Van Dyk family purchased the farm it was in great shape so little was needed for updates at that time. Taking down two garages, putting up a Harvestore in 2006 and a new shed in 2012 have been a few changes that were made to the farm.

In the beginning
During the summer of 1999, Chris was working out on the road. On the side, he was clipping cattle for shows, sales, and classifications and finding show cattle for other people that he knew. While out on the road, Chris was involved in a serious accident. After being in the accident he realized that he wanted to get off of the road and farm.
That fall, Chris's parents, John and Eileen Van Dyk, made the decision to purchase a farm from the late Ken and Sherry Dunn. The farm was in very good shape when the Van Dyk's purchased it from the Dunns.
"We had to update the milking equipment and the worn out stall mats" Chris said.
Fencing was also redone after the purchase. There was some scrap metal that was around the farm that needed to be picked up and disposed of.
The farm's heifer shed was divided into four pens. Also, while making changes to the heifer shed, water lines and headlock gates were added. Some updating to the house was also done, along with finishing the basement.
When John and Eileen purchased the farm, a 4010 John Deere loader tractor, the barn and the heifer shed came with it. At the time of purchase Chris owned 10 cows and 10 heifers of his own to put in the barn. Shortly after purchasing the farm, 30 cows were added to the herd.
"The first three cattle in the barn came right from World Dairy Expo (WDE)," Chris said. "All three were in the top 10 that year in Madison."

The challenge of $8 milk
Like most farmers out there, the Van Dyks faced the challenge of $8 per hundred for milk.
"We figured out what we needed, what we could do without and what we could use less of," said Chris.
This meant even going without things that they loved to do.
Taking cattle to shows and classifying were things that ended up getting put on the back burner during this time. These had to be put aside to help make ends meet, but they have been back in the swing of showing and classifying again and are enjoying it, just like in the past.
Another cut that was made during this time was in the breeding program. Instead of buying a lot of new semen all the time, the Van Dyks used what they already had in the tank. This meant not getting all the new bulls that were out on the market at that time.

On the farm today
There are 260 acres on the farm, of which Chris owns 80. Another 140 acres is rented for a total of 360 tillable acres. The Van Dyks grow about 200 acres of corn, 100 acres of soybeans and the other 60 acres are for hay to be made into haylage. All the baled hay is purchased. A full line of machinery has been added to the farm. Chris tries to update one piece of machinery each year.
"Rikki and I are working on taking over the farm," Chris said. "We are doing 90 percent of the day-to-day operations on the farm."
Currently there are 50 cows and 50 head of young stock on the Van Dyk farm. Chris has also started to add Jerseys to the barn.
The Van Dyks have also started showing cattle again.
"The kids have been winning a lot of champions at the county fair the last few years," Chris said.
Over the past years, show cows and embryos that were sold by the Van Dyks have gone on to do very well for others. A total of 20 All American nominations have been bred and/or developed by the Van Dyks in the last 15 years. The first nomination was in 2001 with Willsey Rubens Naj-Red, who was also Reserve Junior Champion at WDE that year. These 20 nominations have been spread between Holsteins, Red and White Holsteins, Brown Swiss and Jerseys. There have also been 60 Excellent cows either bred or developed by the Van Dyks.

Family and the farm
Family is a key part to Chris and Rikki's farm. Since they do about 90 percent of the day-to-day chores, family is needed to get everything done. Chris does the milking, feeding, breeding, clipping, vet work and record keeping. John and Eileen are still involved with the farm. John cleans barns, spreads manure, feeds silage and Eileen does the bookkeeping.
Rikki is in charge of feeding calves milk, helping milk, cleaning pens and picturing calves for registrations. Their two oldest boys, Tyler and Derek, have their own chores to do on the farm. While their two youngest, Landon and Lane, are in charge of keeping the cats and dogs busy. The Van Dyks also have a student from Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College that helps out four days a week - feeding calves and cleaning pens in the morning and cleaning pens and feeding hay to the cows at night.

Plans and goals for the future
Happy cows and a happy family are two things that the Van Dyks strive for on their farm. Over the years, Chris has bred and developed lots of great cows. In the future, Chris wants to keep breeding for type and developing more show cattle that can compete at state and national levels.
Having a barn full of excellent cows that look great and still milk good is another goal that Chris has. Currently, the Van Dyks have a rolling herd average of 25,000 pounds. Also, to get that perfect cow that can win World Dairy Expo, Chris said would be a great accomplishment that he is working towards every day.
In about five years, Chris and Rikki will have complete ownership of the farm. Being able to pass the farm down to their children has always been a goal of theirs.[[In-content Ad]]


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