Kyle Levitzow
Dodgeville, Wisconsin
Iowa County
330 cows

How did you get into farming? I grew up dairy farming. I went to the University of Wisconsin-Madison for the Farm and Industry Short Course and then farmed on my own for a few years. In 2006, I took over my parents’ farm.

What are your thoughts and concerns about the dairy industry for the next year? Feed, fertilizer and input costs are going to be a struggle. Milk price is looking promising right now but that often does not come to fruition. Risk management is going to be a huge factor in our management plans for the next year to try to get all the costs and income to line up.

What is the latest technology you implemented on your farm and the purpose for it? This year we put in the Nedap Cow Control collar system, which is an activity monitor to help with heat detection, rumination and cud chewing. That was something we decided to invest in to prepare to go into robotics, which we hope to implement in the next year. We also hoped to get an economic benefit from the collars.

What is a management practice you changed in the past year that has benefited you? Besides the activity collars, we have not changed much in the last year, and the consistency around here with the way we do things is why we get the production we do.

What cost-saving steps have you implemented during the low milk price? I try to assume low milk prices are going to happen, so we try to forward contract as much as we can to have a handle on pricing. Then when those low milk prices hit, we are prepared. Last year when the pandemic hit and we had all that volatility, it was the first time we had made changes reactively. We cheapened up the ration and did not lose nearly as much production as we thought we would, so we ended up making those changes permanent.

How do you retain a good working relationship with your employees? Showing that we care. I am actively involved and present at the farm and know their families. We are fortunate to have a lot of long-term employees. We have low turnover. They get raises every year; we provide them with apparel to wear to work; we raise some beef and everyone gets a quarter beef every year. We are also fortunate to own housing so all our Hispanic employees have housing.

Tell us about a skill you possess that makes dairy farming easier for you. I am good with numbers so the business side comes easy to me. I like cows, and I am a pretty good cow person, too, but I have been able to train my employees to take care of the cow side so I can focus on the business side of the operation.

What do you enjoy most about dairy farming? Just being my own boss and being outside. I can’t picture myself doing anything different. I have a long family history of dairy farming, and it is an enjoyable way of life.

What advice would you give other dairy farmers? There is no one-size-fits-all for a dairy. Different management practices work well for different farms. There is no right or wrong way to do it as long as, at the end of the day, you are making money.

What has been the best purchase you have ever made on your farm? One thing we like is our milk taxi. It helped with the labor side of feeding calves and also allowed us to go to an accelerated feeding practice.

What has been your biggest accomplishment while dairy farming? Being on our cooperative’s board of directors was a big accomplishment for me. I’ve been on that for six years now.

What are your plans for your dairy in the next year and five years? Expansion and robotics. We are trying to be more labor efficient. We are looking at doubling the herd and installing 10-12 robots or a robotic rotary. We milk three times a day, and I would like to eliminate the night shift for our employees and give them a better way of life.

How do you or your family like to spend time when you are not doing chores? We have a very non-farming lifestyle. We are very much into sports. Brewer games are the biggest thing we do, and then we like Badger football and basketball. All our kids played sports growing up, and I bowl and golf as well.