Women in Dairy: Trish Brown

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Trish Brown
Strum, Wisconsin
Trempealeau County
30 cows

Tell us about your farm and family. My husband, Judson, and I have two children: Coltan and Eastan. Our farm is home to 30 registered Holsteins. April 18, 2011, was the first day we shipped milk, and we shipped 152 pounds from our first two fresh cows. We bought the farm in 2012 and had raised heifer calves to start with. The farm was gutted, so we had to put everything in. Judson works off the farm full time, and I manage the farm. We have over 70 head here including calves, dry cows and springing heifers. We ship our milk to Grassland Dairy Products Inc.

What is a typical day like for you on the dairy? My alarm goes off at 3:46 a.m. Sometimes I switch a load of laundry before I go to the barn, but I try to be out there by 4:15. I start by pushing up feed, scraping the walk and feeding calves, and then I milk. I get done by 6 a.m. so that I can get my boys on the bus at 6:30. Then I check the steer lot. We have 100 head on a rented farm. Then I feed cows and clean the barn. Jud helps mix feed if he is home, and then I start night chores at 2:30 p.m. We feed cows once a day, so that makes things a little easier. 

What decision have you made in the last year that has benefited your farm? Remodeling the old machine shed to make it into a heifer shed. Before, we only had two pens and super huts. Now it is easier to sort the heifers by age. It also allows us to utilize artificial insemination methods whereas we always ran a bull before. Overall, the heifers are easier to manage, and it enables us to market our show calves more efficiently.

Tell us about your most memorable experience working on the farm. Just being able to have built everything to what it is now and have everything that we do. Nothing was handed to us. It’s also fun to watch the boys step up and watch the youngest one really embrace showing. 

What have you enjoyed most about dairy farming or your tie to the dairy industry? Getting to know people through the show world. It has opened up so many opportunities to make connections with like-minded people. If I didn’t go to shows, I would be home farming all the time. I always heard people say they met their best friends through showing cattle, and that has held true for me. 

What is your biggest accomplishment in your dairy career? Raising cattle that can compete at the national level with my own prefix. I’ve had some stand in the top 10 at Louisville, and I’ve had other purchased animals do well at shows too. We had a heifer win first in her class at the junior show at World Dairy Expo this year — Chakelburg Believe Possible. 

What are things you do to promote your farm or the dairy industry? I would like to do more promotions, but for now I advertise our genetics. I also help kids who want to show by hosting fitting classes and donating animals for kids to show. 

What advice would you give another woman in the dairy industry? You can do it. My favorite word is “no” because it makes me try harder. I would also tell women to listen to others but not always follow their footsteps; make your own mistakes and learn from them. It is important to get to know the businesses that you work with too — serve on the boards and learn how things actually work. Everybody will tell you a little bit, but no one tells you everything, so you need to pay attention and learn things yourself. 

What is a challenge in the dairy industry you have faced and how did you overcome it? As a woman, it can be hard to deal with people who still want to talk to a man. It is getting better, but the older generation still wants to deal with a man. Also, there are challenges in every aspect of the dairy industry, and I wish more people would see both sides of things when it comes to things like cull prices for example. Everything is becoming monopolized, and we’re running out of different options to sell milk and buy feed, equipment and fuel, etc. We can’t shop around and price check as we could in the past. 

When you get a spare moment, what do you do? I like to go fishing or just relax with my boys and watch movies. We don’t go too far. 

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