The Woldt family – (front, from left) Kelsey, Kayla, Kristen, Karly and Kortney (back, from left) Daryl and Amy – milks 1,500 cows and farms 4,500 acres near Brillion, Wisconsin. The Woldts also sell custom TMRs and forages.
The Woldt family – (front, from left) Kelsey, Kayla, Kristen, Karly and Kortney (back, from left) Daryl and Amy – milks 1,500 cows and farms 4,500 acres near Brillion, Wisconsin. The Woldts also sell custom TMRs and forages. PHOTO SUBMITTED

BRILLION, Wis. – For 30 years, Woldt Farms has supplied other dairy farms with an essential commodity – feed. A surplus of feed has put the family in a position to provide custom total mixed rations and forages to fellow farmers near and far. 

“We started offering this service because we had more land to grow feed on than what we needed for our cows,” Daryl Woldt said. “We were able to grow our land base and continued offering this service even after doubling the size of our herd in 2016.”   Daryl and his wife, Amy, farm with their five daughters – Kelsey, Kayla, Kristen, Karly and Kortney, who represent the fifth generation at Woldt Farms. Kelsey works on the farm full time, while her sisters are part time. The Woldts milk 1,500 cows and farm 4,500 acres near Brillion on the farm started in 1911 by Daryl’s great-grandfather, Herman Woldt. Woldt Farms is a diversified operation offering custom feed services, manure hauling and irrigating, harvesting, bagging and trucking. Their fleet of 16 semis are used to haul forages, manure, whey and more.  Offering ready-to-consume feed in the form of a custom TMR, Woldt Farms provides complete rations for dairies with up to 200 cows. Rations are mixed at Woldt Farms and delivered to the customer via semi. In warm weather, a ration is delivered every other day, and in cool weather, delivery may occur every three days. Farms short on land needing a mix year-round or a dairy looking for a temporary solution to help them through a bind can benefit from this service. “When we first began selling TMR, we thought of it as a way to help a young farmer get started,” Woldt said. “They could rent a barn, get a herd of cows and buy their feed.” The TMR provided by Woldt Farms is streamlined for use in high-producing herds and formulated by the Woldts’ nutritionist. It is a recipe that Woldt said works across the board for most customers. When the business was at its prime, the Woldts had around 10 customers. “Some farms had Jerseys, so we formulated for less intake in those instances,” Woldt said. “We did the same for herds not shooting for as much milk. If they didn’t have the potential for 80 to 90 pounds, we didn’t have to formulate the ration as rich.” The Woldts’ custom TMR business has slowed in recent years due to a disappearance of smaller farms.   “There are less and less small farms, and we may not see this part of the business pick back up,” Woldt said. Adapting to a changing market, the Woldts’ primary feed service now centers around forages for farms that grow their own crops but run short at certain times of the year. The need is seen by farms of any size, and the Woldts have sold forages to farms with up to 7,000 cows. Supplementing a farm’s forage needs may be a commitment that lasts several weeks, months or longer. In some cases, the Woldts supply forages to farms year-round.  Farms looking for more forage can tap into the Woldts’ product offerings, which include conventional and BMR corn silage, haylage, fescue grass, sorghum Sudan silage, triticale and winter rye. Forages are stored at Woldt Farms and delivered to the customer as needed. However, sometimes a customer will buy product directly from the field, such as first-crop hay or a field of corn. The Woldts sell feed all over the state, shipping out three to five semi loads per day.  “We have at least a dozen customers we ship forages to,” Woldt said. “Business has really picked up this spring. We sell more forage this time of year as people are running out of haylage.” The Woldts believe in growing high-quality feed on healthy land and using techniques like no till and cover cropping.  “We’re into cover cropping and no till quite heavily,” Woldt said. “This year, we did a lot of cover crops, and we also planted corn into green for the first time. Some of our fields are in their sixth year of doing cover crops and no till. We’ve done pattern tiling over the years, which makes these methods work better.”  The Woldts’ trucks are equipped with pumps to top-dress hay fields, and they apply most of their manure during the growing season to crops such as triticale, sorghum, fescue grasses and alfalfa to allow for immediate nutrient utilization.   The family grows a lot of grasses and has moved half of their alfalfa into grass. Last spring, they also started green chopping and are seeing a savings in feed and labor costs as a result. Planting straight-grass fields of fescues, clovers and festulolium, the Woldts green chop a mixture of perennial European cool-season grasses. “This is a big thing for us,” Woldt said. “It really works. Cows do better on grasses, and we see improved intakes. There seems to be more nutrients in green feed than in fermented forages, and it’s helped with milk production. We’ve been able to reduce the expensive items in our ration like protein and starch and still maintain production. Fiber is more available in the grasses and they’re highly palatable.” Woldt said there is zero storage loss from field to cow when green chopping. “We don’t have to store that feed on a pile, cover it, take the loss, then uncover it, face it and move it to a mixing area,” Woldt said.  Woldt Farms has become a trusted source for high-quality feed for farms needing forages or a TMR. Raising more forages than needed to feed their herd, the Woldt family is happy to provide the specialty service of supplying feed on demand to other farms.