Levi Ulrich
Ogema, Wisconsin
Price County
24 cows

How did you get into farming? I got into farming at a young age. I grew up helping on my grandparents’ dairy goat farm. We raised Jersey steers, and I was always fond of the breed. After they retired milking goats, I got the bug to start milking cows. I started with one heifer in middle school in 2011. From then on, the passion for dairy farming, especially the Jersey cow, took off. I still have that first cow, now scored EX-94.

What are your thoughts and concerns about the dairy industry for the next year? My thoughts and concerns are the same as since I started. Figuring out what does and does not work in order to continue farming. A person has to change and evolve more and more rather than have the mindset of “It’s worked this way for the last 30 years, so we don’t need to change anything.” Agriculture doesn’t seem to be in a small farmers’ best interest these days. It seems to be the get bigger or get out mentality of the industry.

What is the latest technology you implemented on your farm and the purpose for it? I haven’t implemented much for technology. I tend to like things that are simpler. I’m not a huge fan of everything being electronic, because it always seems to bring more issues. One piece of technology I could say I have implemented is the REAP program being a Jersey Cattle Association lifetime member. There’s a ton of benefits from it, and I can better manage my cattle.

What is a management practice you changed in the past year that has benefited you? Instead of having large groups of cows freshen in a few times a year, I spaced the herd out to have a fairly even amount each month come fresh. It doesn’t make things so hectic with all the calves at once and finding space for everyone.

What cost-saving steps have you implemented during the low milk price? Working closely with my nutritionist to see where we can cut corners without having a negative effect on the cows’ health, components and production.

How do you retain a good working relationship with your employees? I’m the only employee.

Tell us about a skill you possess that makes dairy farming easier for you. Learning to breed my own cows when I was in college. Not only does it save me a ton of money, I’m able to use whatever bull I want from around the world if I choose to. I’m able to breed a cow any time of the day or night however many times I might need to.

What do you enjoy most about dairy farming? It’s so rewarding to have a cow, decide on a mating, have that baby heifer born and then watch her grow up and develop then go on to score good. My favorite thing is to freshen in heifers. There’s a lot of built up anticipation over the two-year wait, so it’s always fun when they’re fresh and then watching their udder develop.

What advice would you give other dairy farmers? Don’t dwell on what the neighbors are doing and try to mimic it. Every situation is different for every farmer. Don’t be afraid to ask other farmers questions. They might have an idea that would fit the situation. Don’t look at the bad from the past. Keep the good in mind and keep pushing forward.

What has been the best purchase you have ever made on your farm? The best purchase is investing into some superb cow families. I invested into the Godiva family from Woodmohr Jerseys, and I’m excited for the future of where I can take it. Woodmohr First Belmont who max scored at EX-93 is one of my foundation cows going forward. She’s backed by an EX-93 Request, then an EX-95 Jade then EX-95 Duncan Chief being Godiva.

What has been your biggest accomplishment while dairy farming? My biggest accomplishment is being in the game. There were times when I questioned why, but I’ve stuck with it and wouldn’t change it for the world.

What are your plans for your dairy in the next year and five years? In the next year, I’m hoping to be in a bigger facility to double the herd size. Over the next five years, I hope to be farming and showcase the genetics I’ve been building up on a bigger stage, such as World Dairy Expo.

How do you or your family like to spend time when you are not doing chores? I enjoy time with friends and family going to dairy shows, kayaking and sitting by a fire. The less hustle and bustle the better. I’m perfectly fine with peace and quiet without a crowd of people.