Women in Dairy: Kitt Hernandez

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Kitt Hernandez
Tomah, Wisconsin
Monroe County
50 cows

Family: My husband’s name is Jose, and our three boys are Aidan, 12, James, 9, and Jax, 6. My parents are Kurt and Kathy Westpfahl.

Tell us about your farm. Our farm is around 260 acres, about half of which is tillable. We grow alfalfa and corn. We have always been Holstein and Red and White Holstein, and now we are crossbreeding with Milking Shorthorn and Jersey. I am a fourth-generation dairy farmer here, and my kids will be the fifth. The original Westpfahl farm is just over the hill.

What is a typical day like for you on the dairy? A routine day is waking up before the sun, feeding cows, milking cows and cleaning barns. Depending on the season, between milkings we do crops and work cattle; we vaccinate and move cattle to different pastures. We just started branding this year for better ID purposes. Our brand is an anchor to honor my time in the Navy. And, we are always working on projects.

What decision have you made in the last year that have benefited your farm? The biggest change I made was two years ago when we went from feeding out of silos to feeding out of bags and using a total mixed ration. My dad had a heart attack in 2019 after climbing the silo and pitching out spoiled feed. He spent two and a half weeks in the hospital; that was my baptism by fire of running the farm by myself. Now it only takes us half an hour to feed cows.

Tell us about your most memorable experience working on the farm. I have always had safety drilled into my head. We have all had our share of accidents, but when my uncle passed away from a farming accident, we were especially focused on safety. But the day I got attacked by a bull was the most memorable for me. I could tell you everything about it except how I got out. I remember everything about getting knocked over and pinned to the ground and the next thing I remember was climbing over the gate and getting away.

What have you enjoyed most about dairy farming or your tie to the dairy industry? Being my own boss and working with my family. I like being able to be a mom and take my kids anywhere with me. My dad always told me if you don’t want someone on your farm, you can tell them to leave.

What is your biggest accomplishment in your dairy career? Without sounding arrogant, the fact that I am still here. I have watched so many farms around me close up shop. My parents and other farms have taught me how to survive in bad years. I bought the farm in 2018 which was right in the middle of the tariff wars. It taught me to be a better businessman and how to better manage finances.

What are things you do to promote your farm or the dairy industry? I try to spread knowledge by talking with people. So many people have misconceptions about agriculture and their food. I also educate my kids so their friends learn from them.

What advice would you give another woman in the dairy industry? Stay strong. Have some grit and stick to it. I have come against a lot of discrimination in my career, and I have used peoples’ negativity and changed it to motivation. People have always underestimated me, and it feels good to prove them wrong.

When you get a spare moment, what do you do? I exercise. It doesn’t happen every day, but I try to take an hour to work out. It has benefited me so much with mental health, stress relief and easing my back pain. I do workouts off of YouTube at home.

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