A new farm for Schrauths

Young farmers make facility improvements, grow herd

Posted
FOND DU LAC, Wis. – If the third time is a charm, then Evan Schrauth may have found his forever farm. On Oct. 8, he and his wife, Taylor, moved their herd 15 miles east from their farm near Waupun to a farm near Fond du Lac and immediately felt at home. Schrauth went from renting to owning to renting once again.
“We never planned on selling our farm, but it turned out incredibly well,” Schrauth said. “We lived there three years to the day.”
Exactly one month after the Schrauths made their move, they welcomed a new baby girl to the family. Proud parents of 2-year-old Briella and 1-month-old McKenly, Schrauth said settling into a new farm with a newborn baby made for a crazy transition.
The Schrauths milk 80 cows in the 70-stall barn with 60 stanchions and 10 tie stalls,
but they hope to be milking about 95 come mid-December. Feed is purchased from their landlord.
“I no longer have to truck feed or haul manure, which is very nice,” Schrauth said. “There’s a manure pit here, and the feed is here as well.”
Schrauth was 4 years old when his dad sold the cows and took a job as a herdsman on a 2,000-cow dairy. Spending a lot of time on that farm with his dad, Schrauth knew from a young age what he wanted to be when he grew up.
“My mom and dad have been trying to talk me out of farming since I was born,” said Schrauth, who briefly thought about being a history teacher. “I loved cows from the time I was little. I can’t fix a tractor, and I’m not good with crops. Cows are my specialty. Nobody ever thought I’d get married and have kids because the cows are my babies.”
Schrauth bought his first calf at age 11 – a Guernsey he named after his grandpa. That investment was followed by the purchase of a grade Holstein that came from the farm at which he started milking cows in fifth grade. A love for registered cattle soon developed, and he began building Cloven View Holsteins – a herd focused on genetics. From the moment he finished a one-year course in dairy herd management at Lakeshore Technical College, Schrauth began fulfilling his dream of becoming a dairy farmer.
“I was 18 when I applied for a loan and 19 when I started milking,” said 25-year-old Schrauth. “I walked across the stage on Sunday to get my diploma, and the next day I signed a loan for the cows.”
Starting out with 35 crossbred cows, Schrauth rented a place in Lomira for three years before buying the farm in Waupun. Cow numbers continued to climb with each transition, and this latest move is no exception. The Schrauths moved in with 70 cows and expect to be at over 100 soon, growing the herd through recent purchases. Schrauth is also housing 15 cows for Ryan-Vu Dairy with plans to buy several of those animals.
Schrauth said this farm is an upgrade from where they had been, and provides the opportunity to acquire more land. Schrauth made several improvements, including adding pasture mats that are providing top-of-the-line comfort to the milking herd.
“Putting these mats in was the best thing I ever did,” Schrauth said. “I would never go back to a different mattress after having these. They’re incredibly comfortable, and it’s a continuous mat, so the entire stall is mattress.”
The pasture mats contain rubber crumbs inside of 2-inch-thick tubes. Over the top, Schrauth installed the thickest foam possible followed by a durable cover. The Schrauths generously bed the mats with chopped bean straw.
“You can see a lot more cushion with these mats,” Schrauth said. “Our cows stay in the barn a lot, so we want them to be comfortable.”
Schrauth thought about ripping out the stanchions but liked the 10-inch chain link that moves with the cow’s head.
“The stanchion is not rigid or rough on cows,” he said. “It swings back and forth; there’s movement. It’s a flexible design that I have less trouble with than the 10 tie stalls. But my dream would be to have a freestall barn as I think that’s the best way to take care of a cow.”
Schrauth also added manger liners in the barn and put in three concrete moveable J-bunks in the barnyard, including one with headlocks.
“This is our first time having headlocks,” Schrauth said. “It’s great for herd health checks.”
Schrauth and his dad also spent two weeks remodeling a barn five minutes away, to house 30 heifers.
“My wife was a saint,” Schrauth said. “She stayed at the old farm and took care of everything even though she was pregnant while we did all the renovations. Within six days of moving in, we were up 1.5 pounds of milk per cow, and our components went up tremendously.”
Schrauth carefully calculates the return on investment of each decision he makes.
“I like to figure out how much milk I need to make to pay for an improvement,” he said. “For example, if I gain 4.5 pounds of milk per cow, I can pay for the mattresses in one year milking 70 cows. I have notebooks full of numbers with examples like this.”
Making a farm better than it was when he arrived is familiar territory to Schrauth. His farm in Waupun was far from perfect when he bought it. Schrauth designed and built a 24-stall freestall barn for dry cows and heifers with help from his dad, added automatic heated waterers in the cow yard, put mattresses in the 66-stall tiestall barn and installed tunnel-ventilated fans. After struggling with water issues, they also put in a water treatment system.
“Everything we did was to make more milk, not to make life easier for us,” Schrauth said. “We didn’t have a lot of money, so my dad and I did most of the work ourselves.”
But without enough land to build a new freestall barn, Schrauth said the farm was a dead end for he and Taylor. So when they were approached by an interested buyer, the Schrauths decided to slap a price tag on the farm and see what happened. Within six weeks, they sold their farm, found a new one to rent and changed addresses. After making some initial improvements, Schrauth is turning his attention back to the cows.
“Now I’m focused on improving genetics and hitting that next level of production,” he said. “The facilities are pretty incredible, so there’s not much to do there, and since we’re renting, we can’t change too much anyway. The focus is now on making the best cows we can.”
Along with flushing and buying embryos, Schrauth signed his first bull contract this fall. In addition, he has collected semen from one of his bulls – a polled Red and White Holstein – and sold 350 units.
This year, the Schrauths took their first animal to World Dairy Expo – a Guernsey calf that placed sixth in her class. And their 5-year-old cow, Drizzle, won the futurity at the Fond du Lac County Fair.  
“Drizzle was my first Excellent cow and the first registered calf born on my farm,” Schrauth said. “She’s special.”
Determined to farm, Schrauth immersed himself in the dairy industry and went from a boy with a dream to a man living the life he always wanted.
“If I didn’t get the help I got, I wouldn’t be here,” he said. “If you’re a young kid looking to get into farming, you need a support system.”
Schrauth feels this most recent move could be his last.
“I love this place, and if I get the opportunity, there’s no doubt I’d buy it,” Schrauth said. “It feels like home. But for now, we are happy renting and seeing where the future takes us.”

Comments

No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here