Guest Post by Jaylene Lesher, Bernville, PA, A student at Penn State University
This summer I had the pleasure of living in America’s Dairyland while interning for Rosy-Lane Holsteins LLC near Watertown. Even though I learned about ‘cheese heads’ and Packer football, I learned even more about managing a large-scale dairy farm by working alongside progressive dairy farmers Lloyd and Daphne Holterman, Tim Strobel and Jordan Matthews. My goal was to receive an all-around experience and get a taste of all aspects of the farm business. An all around experience calls for crazy days beginning with one job and ending with another job. A day in the life of an on-farm intern is jam packed with protocols, chores, and rewarding learning experiences.
Rosy-Lane Holsteins LLC is an 800-cow dairy that operates 24/7. Their dedication to animal husbandry reveals itself through their high milk production, component levels, and cattle longevity. They host tours year-round (at least one tour per week during the summer) to advertise their practices to consumers and to the worldwide dairy industry.
Starting at 5 a.m. each day, my first task could have been scraping heifer barns, helping trim feet, or give synchronization shots. Treating sick cows or assisting herd check usually follows these chores. An important task I was trained to do daily on the farm was to take care of fresh cows and newborn calves. Throughout my day, I would get a call to take care of a new calf while I was in the middle of another project. It was even more interesting when two or more cows would calve-in at the same time! These tasks filled my days to the brim, but that is not everything I got to do this summer.
In between my daily rounds, I would jump into some side projects happening on the farm. This consisted of walking around the farm with a tour group, pressure washing the side of the barn, rotor-brushing around the barns, or sorting and moving heifers. These tasks helped the farm operate smoothly and look its best.
When there is a cheese shop in every town and there are more cows than people, you are definitely in the state of Wisconsin. Some days when I finished my morning rounds, I would go on a field trip to tour other dairies around Wisconsin. Some of my field trips included Rosendale Dairy, Genetic Futures and Sassy Cow Creamery. This helped make my internship unique and enhance my Wisconsin experience.
I cannot picture a better way to spend the summer than working on a dairy farm. I gained new herdsmanship and communication skills that I will carry with me the rest of my life. This was an opportunity of a lifetime that I will always be thankful for having. Although my days as an on-farm intern ended on August 1, I will be back to visit Wisconsin and cherish all of the great memories until then.