February 26, 2022 at 1:05 a.m.

Moving at their own pace

Loresches combine grazing, conventional practices
Cows eat TMR at the Loresches’ farm Feb. 9 near Richland Center, Wisconsin. The cows are grazed in the summer and fed TMR all year round. PHOTO BY ABBY WIEDMEYER
Cows eat TMR at the Loresches’ farm Feb. 9 near Richland Center, Wisconsin. The cows are grazed in the summer and fed TMR all year round. PHOTO BY ABBY WIEDMEYER

By Abby [email protected] | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

RICHLAND CENTER, Wis. – Wade and Amy Loresch are seeing the fruits of their labor after starting slowly in their dairy career. What began as 10 heifer calves grew into a herd of 70 Jersey and Holstein crossbred cows and more heifers than they have room for.

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“We finally shipped over 1 million pounds of milk last year,” Wade Loresch said. “Milk prices are catching up, and my son is home from college and wants to start milking cows.”
The Loresches milk in a double-12 swing parlor near Richland Center.
Dairy farming was an occupation the Loresches took on in 2009. Loresch had previously milked cows from 1999 until 2006 when he sold out following a divorce. In 2009, Amy convinced Wade to begin dairying again.
At the request of Amy, who is a graduate of Southwest Technical College’s Dairy Herd Management program, they started with a small group of heifer calves. When those 10 animals calved two years later, the Loresches were unable to find a market for the milk. The couple spent two weeks dumping milk and searching for a market.  
It was their grazing practices that finally helped them find a home for their milk.
“Scenic Central finally said they would take our milk,” Loresch said. “We were already grazing; it was just something we did to help offset the costs.”
Once they had a market secured for their milk, the Loresches decided to increase cow numbers. They expanded the herd in 2016 with a loan from their bank.
“Cattle prices were through the roof,” Loresch said. “We were piecing together what we could to start getting milk in the tank. We were just taking what we could get.”
The couple was able to find 40 cows to add to their herd and then focused on growing internally.
After struggling to find the right diet for their calves, they found that whole milk replacer worked the best to get their calves off to a strong start.
“We were feeding whole milk for a while, and we were just not having luck with it,” Loresch said. “We also did not want to take from the tank what little milk we were producing. Then we went to a milk replacer that was made up of skim milk, because it was cheap and that wasn’t working either. The one nutritionist said with Jerseys we needed a higher fat (replacer) and that’s been working really good. We have tried cheaper milk replacers, but it really shows in the calves. I guess if I’m going to skimp on money, I’m not doing it on that.”
With calf raising success established, the couple continued tweaking their management to increase milk production.
“We started pushing for production with better feed quality,” Loresch said. “We had a lot of old equipment that prevented us from getting good hay made on time. We started investing in some better equipment. Last year, we went to a bigger tractor, a bigger chopper and a couple wagons.”
Loresch said the bigger equipment allows for a quicker harvest, leading to consistent quality feed. Loresch said he has seen the benefits in milk production and cow health.
In the summertime, the cows are on pasture but a total mixed ration makes up 90% of their diet. The TMR is adjusted based on how well the pastures are performing. If the pasture grows too tall, the forage is baled for heifer feed.
“The paddocks we have are not used for intensive grazing anymore. We just let them go out there,” Loresch said. “The cows stay cleaner, and they have better feet and less wart issues.”
The combination of grazing and feeding TMR has paid off in production and premiums. The Loresches’ milk is sent to Meister Cheese in Muscoda and is a part of the Cows First program through Chipotle. One of the requirements of this program is having access to pasture. This program earns them an extra $1 per hundredweight of milk sold.
Loresch is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Farm and Industry Short Course, where he learned grazing practices from Dick Cates, who was teaching there at the time. Loresch said he always believed in grazing in the right environment but also supplements a TMR year-round.
“Grazing exclusively doesn’t always work if you’re just starting out and have a lot of payments because your production goes down,” Loresch said.
In the last year, the couple has also updated their milking equipment with automatic takeoffs to decrease the amount of time cows spend in the parlor.
“When we were at the grazing school with Cates, he would have speakers come in and say, ‘Have a lot of units and get them in and get them out,’” said Loresch of moving the cows through the parlor.
The couple’s parlor is expandable to a double-16 swing, something Loresch hopes to implement now that his son, Cody, is joining the operation as a full-time employee.
Cody graduated from Southwest Technical College in 2021 from the agribusiness program and said he would like to apply his education at the home farm. Cody worked part time on the farm while he was in school and took on more duties once Amy had employment off the farm in 2015.
Expanding the parlor would allow the family to milk up to 170 cows in about 1.5 hours and to continue focusing on the successful grazing aspects of the farm.
“Our goal, if Cody is going to be home, is to milk enough where it’s still manageable,” Loresch said. “We want to continue with the grazing, so we can’t really go much over that.”


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