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Join the Peterson Family Dairy for a meal, tours

The Roger and Bev Peterson family will host the Pierce County Dairy Breakfast at their farm on Saturday, June 20 from 8 a.m. to noon. (Submitted photo)

With a statewide initiative to promote the dairy industry in June, Pierce County is doing its part in hosting a Dairy Breakfast On The Farm June 20.

This year’s host for the breakfast is Peterson Family Dairy, located two miles southwest of River Falls on State Highway 29. Breakfast will be served from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Bring your appetites to enjoy Dad’s Belgian Waffles, sausages, ice cream, deep-fried cheese curds, milk and coffee. The cost is $6 for adults, $4 for ages 6-12, free for 5 years old and under. Watch for directional signs to guide you.

A highlight of the breakfast will be educational tram tours throughout the two freestall sand bedded barns, illustrating farming practices focused on cow care and comfort. Visitors will also have the opportunity to view the milking parlor, the new automatic calf feeding barn, an antique tractor display and educational kid’s activities related to the dairy industry with face painting for all ages. This is an event you will not want to miss!

Peterson Family Dairy Inc. is a multi-generational family owned and operated dairy farm and host of the 2015 Pierce County Dairy Breakfast. They are celebrating more than 36 years of dairy production. Both Roger and Bev grew up on dairy farms near River Falls. When Roger Peterson was a senior in high school he purchased 50 cows from his parents’ herd, and started a milking operation on his parents’ second farm, that he then purchased in 1979. He married Bev in 1981 and they have five children: Brad, Michelle, Tracy, Brenda and Kevin, all of whom assisted with farm chores growing up.

Gradually through time, Petersons increased their 50-cow operation to 80 milking cows but it wasn’t until 2009 when son Brad and daughter Michelle were able to return to the farm after furthering their education and work experience. In 2009 Petersons were able to expand their dairy operation and built a 240 stall sand-bedded freestall barn, with tunnel ventilation with a sand/manure separation system and a double 10 herringbone parlor.

Between building a free stall barn in 2009 and having the honor to host the 2010 Wisconsin Farm Technology Days, the Petersons stay busy. Wisconsin Farm Technology Days promotes technologies in agriculture and related industries, leadership development, business and industry, education and agencies. There were more than 600 exhibitors, from tent city, heritage hill, farm tours and other educational efforts. Petersons Family Farms Inc. became the city outside of the city of River Falls with over 40,000 attendees.

In the cold months of December 2012 Peterson Family Dairy Inc. built and moved animals into a new 112-by-250-foot freestall heifer and dry cow facility that holds 450 animals. With sand bedded stalls, tunnel ventilation, automated scrapers and sand separation, Roger reports good results with the design and daily operations.

Currently Peterson Family Dairy Inc. is milking 300 cows, three times a day. Their cows average 93 pounds of milk a day, which equals 10.8 gallons. The newest building development took place this spring when Petersons built an automatic calf feeding barn that can feed 100 calves. With new technology advancements this barn will provide support to Michelle and others who operate the dairy enterprise by reducing labor hours. One unique fact about automated calf feeders is that the machine actually feeds each calf and its daily consumption is recorded into a computer system.

In addition to the dairy, Petersons plant 1,200 acres of corn, 300 acres of soybeans, 350 acres of alfalfa and 100 acres of winter wheat for their animals and markets. Roger, with the assistance of Brad, manages to find time to help out other dairys and crop producers within Pierce County. From custom planting, spraying, harvesting and trucking of crops and livestock from area farms, they are always on the go. In the spring of 2015, Roger and Bev hired and welcomed back their youngest son Kevin after finishing his degree. Visitors will have to swing by the farmer-led Watershed Display as the Petersons have been a supporter and have shared their knowledge on finding profitable ways to promote soil health and water quality in their watersheds. Managing watershed areas well is critical to farmers and the public alike.

Sponsors of the event include: Pierce County Dairy Promotion Committee in cooperation with Pierce County Farm Bureau and the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

For the second year in a row the Pierce County Dairy Promotion Committee is seeking cash donations to support the purchase of dairy products at our local food shelves. One hundred percent of every dollar that is donated will buy dairy products (and nothing else) to help families that are in need right here in Pierce County. There will be boxes set up for the attendees of the breakfast to donate to this cause. At the breakfast there also will be a representative from the Hunger Prevention Council talking about nutrition education and the importance of consuming dairy products.

Submitted by UW Extension