Cows not housed in box stalls are in this 60-stall freestall barn which gives cows plenty of space with its large stalls and wide alleys.
Cows not housed in box stalls are in this 60-stall freestall barn which gives cows plenty of space with its large stalls and wide alleys. PHOTO BY STACEY SMART

    DEFOREST, Wis. – When the Langer family was looking to grow their dairy, they expanded the operation in a unique way. Rather than adding cows and buildings at the current location, they opted for a new site with a much different focus than the original dairy. They built a facility that caters to the needs of elite show cattle and cows of superior genetic value.

    “We were getting big into registered cattle, and wanted a place to showcase these animals and help cows reach their potential – a place where we could give them the care they need,” Jenna Langer said. “The facility offers that next level of care which is individualized to get these cows where they need to be.”
    Langer, along with her parents, Randy and Sue, and brothers, Darren and Justin, run Langer Dairy Farms where they milk 600 cows on two farms that sit a field apart in DeForest.
    “We’re one farm with different goals and ideas between our two locations,” Langer said.
    Langer manages her family’s show and boarding facility – a role she stepped into when she was 19.   
    “Show cattle are my passion,” Langer said. “I started showing when I was 9 years old. I fell in love with it and never looked back.”
    When a neighboring farm went on the market, the Langers saw an opportunity to pull out the herd’s finest-looking cows and those with the best genetics, and house them separately. The Langers gave the existing barn at the new property an overhaul, renovating the interior by gutting the tiestalls and replacing them with 10 box stalls for show cows. The Langers also built an adjoining 60-stall freestall barn.
    Box stalls make the individual care of Langer’s show cows possible, providing a housing setup that allows her to fulfill each show cows’ special dietary needs and see to each cow’s unique requirements. Show cows are fed hay and grain three times a day and supplemented with TMR and corn silage as needed. Cows in the freestall barn receive TMR.
    Eight of the 10 box stalls measure 10 feet by 20 feet, and two are 11 feet by 20 feet. Each pen contains a headlock and bedded pack, and the gates of the stalls swing both directions, allowing a skid loader to clean the center aisle. Each box stall is bedded with shavings and straw daily. Langer keeps cattle spiffed up at all times, bathing and grooming regularly during temperate months. Langer also turns cows out on pasture in good weather.
    Bedded with sand, stalls in the freestall barn measure 8 feet long by 54 inches wide, giving cows extra space and plenty of lunge room. The alleys were also made wider than standard. Designed to accommodate even the largest cows, the barn ensures animals are never crowded.
    “We strive to maximize cow comfort,” Langer said.
    Other than a few minor updates, the original single-6 herringbone parlor remained intact. Cows are milked twice a day at the show facility and three times a day at the home farm. Langer also has the option to milk in the box stalls if necessary.
    Type and genetics reign at this facility devoted to the show cow where animals receive first-rate treatment 24/7 and never lack for anything. With capacity for 80 head, cows moved into the new facilities during the spring and summer of 2013. A select group of heifers are housed here as well. Ownership of animals is split among the Langers.
    “We’re in this together as a family,” Langer said.
    While Langer does the majority of the labor at the show facility, she receives help from family members and three part-time employees. The facility’s efficient design enables Langer to do all the work by herself if required.
    Langer stressed the importance of routine in keeping the cows content.
    “We do things exactly the way same every day,” she said. “Routine is a big thing for these cows. It throws them off if you mix up their routine.”
    To become more competitive on their climb up the rungs of the show ladder, the Langers made purchases from notable cow families. Daughters out of Apple, Elegance, Limited and Red Rose helped push the Langers’ show string to a new level as they continued breeding for high-end type and genetics.
    “We do a lot of reproductive work, including embryo transfer, to improve the next generation,” Langer said.
    Langer has shown cattle at her district show, Wisconsin State Show, Wisconsin and Minnesota state fairs, the North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville, Kentucky, World Dairy Expo, and the Royal Winter Fair in Canada.
    “We’ve had a lot of success that we attribute to this farm, including several all-American nominations,” Langer said.
    Langer also boards cows for others and is currently boarding 25 head. Langer has also partnered with GenOvations, of Lodi, Wisconsin, which specializes in flushing and in vitro fertilization. She houses the cows of clients looking for the type of individualized care Langer can provide at her facility.  
    Devoted to developing and caring for cows of showring quality and genetic prowess, Langer has found her niche in the industry.
    “Running a facility like this requires great attention to detail,” Langer said. “It’s the little things and the finetuning that really count. You have to be here, therefore, I spend a lot of time in the barn.”  
    But, there is no place she would rather be.