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Avid farmer establishes Holstein breeding outfit

Eric and Jaci Bechel of Della-Sheen, a registered holstein breeding business, with sons Braeden, age seven, and Bryce, four. (Submitted photo)

Farming is Eric Bechel’s business.

And now that Bechel is finally on his own as a farmer, he has added a related enterprise. Della-Sheen LLC is the Elmwood area’s newest registered Holstein breeding outfit.

The local native said Wednesday he grew up around Holsteins on the home farm his father ran, but those animals weren’t registered.

“We can sell these as breeding stock,” he said of the 98 cows he currently owns, plus 38 heifers.

His Holsteins are raised with full pedigree, he said. At the grade level, for example, they can be registered anywhere from two to a percentage. There are sires, grand sires, dams and others as well.

Bechel’s rolling herd average is 27,810, he said, and the somatic cell count average is 88,000. The herd includes both red and black-and-white Holsteins.

Last month, he bought 72 cows and 21 heifers from a former employer, the farmer-businessman said. He’d worked for Honeycrest Farms for two-and-a-half years when Bob Traynor told him it was time Traynor had a “job career change,” preferring that phrase to the term “retired.” There was then an auction of the 100 “Best of Honeycrest.”

Bechel said he presently rents facilities from Honeycrest. They provide corn silage, haylage and the like; he has an employee who tends to the milking and calf chores, as well as the cleanliness of the barn.

His first independent venture follows a youth-and-early adulthood when he labored for others. The 1998 graduate of Elmwood High School is the son of David and Donna, with a sister, Jenna (Ridle) Bechel and a brother, Bryan Bechel. In school, he was active in FFA, serving as the local chapter’s treasurer at one point. At home, he helped with an approximately 400-cow and 300-acre operation.

“We rented the rest (of the acreage we needed),” he said, noting his initial job stint on the home place lasted six years and another period of employment occurred there later.

He was also employed by John Skogen for four years in a similar capacity, he said. He described his overall experience as being milk dairy management, dealing with cattle, hoof trimming, herd checks, IVs and more.

Bechel said he and then-future wife Jaci met at a wedding dance 13 years ago. They were married in 2005 and now have two sons: Braeden, age seven, and Bryce (“Hollywood”), four. He explained the nickname for their second son stems from the youngster’s tendency to strut around the farm in sandals and without a shirt.

Registered Holstein breeding is a seven-days-a-week proposition, the business’ owner said. However, when he occasionally does get some spare time, he enjoys attending cattle shows, including a spring show in Madison, the Minnesota State Fair’s show, district shows and county fairs (Pierce’s fair is a favorite). He likes going fishing at a friend’s cabin up north, too.

He credited Tanner Schmailing for Schmailing’s efforts as a cattle fitter for the shows, along with partnering in owning some cattle, as well as the Traynors for “the opportunity they gave me to run my own farm.”

His wife and children also deserve credit, he said, for “putting up with me.”

Bill Kirk

Bill Kirk was editor of the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth, from 1988 to February, 2015 and is now on staff as a reporter. He holds a bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He previously worked in the media distribution department at the University of Minnesota's Minneapolis campus and is past editor of The Tri-County News in Osseo, Wisconsin.

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