August 12, 2023 at 8:00 a.m.
You can find their cows in the city
CASHTON, Wis. – Driving through the residential streets of Cashton, people pass houses, children on bikes and perhaps the occasional Amish horse and buggy. Right in the heart of the downtown residential streets, they will also find a fully operational dairy farm. This is where the Trescher family has farmed since 1909.
“With our location, every single load of forage in and manure out is on a residential street, so it can be a little challenging from time to time,” Steve Trescher said. “But, I grew up here, my dad grew up here, and I guess we’re getting by.”
Steve and his wife, Annette, have been married for 36 years and have continued the Trescher family’s legacy of farming in town.
The Trescher family’s farm was a tour stop June 23 for attendees of the National Jersey Convention.
The Treschers milk 70 cows in a 50-stall tiestall barn. The tiestall is bedded with sand and holds mostly Jersey and Jersey-Holstein crossbred cows, while a freestall barn houses the Holsteins. The herd is intermingled during milking time when they switch groups. Their son Derek helps with feeding and hauling manure every day.
Running a dairy farm in the residential area of town has presented challenges. The Treschers said they do their best to be as neighborly as possible by not doing fieldwork after 10 p.m., keeping baleage plastic contained and keeping the roads clean. They achieve this by having blacktop driveways so the mess cleans off on their property instead of on the residential roads.
Steve and Annette said there are benefits to living in town such as the cows being on village water and the milkhouse operating on village sewer. There is also village electric service to the farm, eliminating the need for a backup generator.
They also realized that they had fewer solicitors because salesmen never thought to look for a farm down a residential street. Annette said nobody ever found them until they hosted a dairy breakfast in 1998.
When Steve’s dad was operating the farm, they had 12 cows and sold all of the milk out of the basement to the people in town until 1969 when pasteurization was made mandatory.
“You wouldn’t believe how many people tell me they remember buying milk from my dad,” Steve said. “Everybody in town got milk here. Things have definitely changed.”
While their children were growing up, Steve said it was normal for the town kids to ride their bikes right through the barn during milking while making their way around town with friends.
“When the kids got older, town kids were here and they had opportunities that other town kids wouldn’t have,” Steve said. “And, my kids had opportunities that other country kids wouldn’t have.”
The Treschers were originally an exclusively Holstein herd, but when Annette joined the operation, she brought her beloved Jerseys with her. She traded her beef cows for five Jersey heifers, which she brought to the Trescher farm. Everyone had to learn how to manage Holsteins and Jerseys side by side.
“It was an adjustment for me,” Annette said. “Everyone has had a little bit of a learning curve over the years as to how to manage them.”
When she moved her first group of heifers to the farm, Annette’s dad had told her to wait to breed the Jerseys so they would be big enough to compete with the Holsteins. The Treschers found out that they did not have to worry about the Jerseys competing. In fact, Annette said the Jerseys tend to boss the Holsteins around.
One challenge they have faced has been feeding the two breeds. The cows are fed a total mixed ration, but with them both being milked in the same stanchion barn, feed cannot be separated between the Jerseys and Holsteins. Annette said she thinks the Jerseys could produce a higher fat content if they were fed a separate ration. Even with the current feed, however, the Jerseys ranked seventh in the U.S. in mature equivalent milk production among other registered Jersey herds of a similar size.
“I’m pretty proud of how hard they work,” Annette said. “But, I could challenge them if I had a different facility.”
Feed is grown on the 300 acres the family farms. The land is a combination of the Trescher home farm and Steve’s mother’s home farm. They grow corn and alfalfa for feed.
“We have just as much land here as we would in the country,” Steve said.
The Treschers said they also have good neighbors.
“Thirty-six years ago, every single neighbor was a retired farmer,” Annette said. “That is no longer the case. We are lucky that we have very understanding neighbors now.”