Passing Heritage to Future Generations

Last year the Hillview Dairy farm, operated since the early 70s by Bill and Opal Haase, was named a Century Farm by the State of Wisconsin. That's the number of years it was owned by the Haase family. Going back through Bill's grandmother's sister, who had a different name, the farm has been in the family since 1887.

Now, Bill and Opal are passing that heritage to the next generations. Two of their sons, Jason and Jered, play an active role in the family corporation. The couple's other children (Matt, Mike, and Amanda) are not actively involved.

Jered and Jason took similar paths back to the farm. Jason attended the University of Wisconsin at River Falls and worked for Federated Co-ops at Osceola before owning his own dairy herd for five years. Jered attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison and worked 3½ years for Select Sires before returning to the farm.

In 2004, the family formed a corporation and started milking in a new facility. "We knew ahead of time that was what we wanted to do," said Bill, "So we did some positioning to make it happen."

The positioning included:
  • Quitting cash cropping and changing the farm's rotation to corn and alfalfa.
  • Relying on local custom businesses for corn planting, chopping corn silage, and pumping manure.
  • Building a new free-stall milking barn about two miles from their existing site where they continue to care for the dry cows and bred heifers.
When the dairy incorporated to become Haase Dairy Inc., Jason brought his herd and equipment into the corporation. The corporation had purchased a herd of cows and was milking them the summer prior to moving into the new milking facility.

"The new barn is located in the center of our land base, which is good for the transport of feed and for manure disposal," says Bill. Over the years, Bill and Opal had expanded their farming operation from 160 to 650 acres. Today, they rent additional land to support a current herd of 430 head, with 385 in milk.

The Haase family relies on a private nutritionist, Keith Sather of Dresser, WI, to work their rations. They depend on Munson Lakes Nutrition to provide their dairy protein supplement and dry cow feed. "We were having quality problems with our previous suppliers, and since we switched to Munson we've been getting a quality product at a competitive price," says Bill. They also appreciate Mike Foust, the MLN sales nutritionist, who checks in with them periodically. "The other day Mike brought out some colostrum replacer from The Country Store," said Opal. "It's nice he's willing to help us out."

The Haase family is currently trying Land O'Lakes® Future Cow® Calf Starter (with Ampli-Calf® Technology) with the goal of getting each calf to start eating and developing its rumen quicker.

Challenges facing Haase Dairy Inc. will be operating close to an urban area, the current downturn in milk prices, and making sure the dairy stays profitable for everyone involved. "It's always a challenge passing the farm to the next generation," remarks Bill. Opal adds, "We're a century farm, and we want to see the kids and grandkids enjoy it in the years to come."

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