Last week, more than 50 Minnesota dairy producers and individuals interested in the industry boarded a couple of coach buses and headed east to Wisconsin. The trip was known as the annual Summer Bus Tour, co-hosted by the Minnesota Milk Producers Association and University of Minnesota Extension. It is meant to expose dairy producers to different types of operations and each other in a casual networking setting.

The first stop of the three-day tour was in northwestern Wisconsin at Harmony Specialty Dairy Foods LLC in Edgar. Owner Ralph Bredl share how as a fourth generation dairy producer he owns and operates a 450-cow registered dairy and makes handmade vat cheese at a cheese plant he purchased a few years ago.

Robotic milking units were featured at the next two stops – Dugan Valley Dairy in Mondovi and Ron and Ester VanLangen’s farm in Edgar. The tour then made a trek across the state to Eastern Wisconsin before enjoying dinner and recapping the day’s events.


The next morning the group toured Holsum Elm Dairy in Hilbert. This 3,700-cow operation featured an 80-stall rotary parlor and methane digester. Bob Nagel, manager of the dairy, explained how it is a Green Tier dairy and is committed to protecting the environment. He also shared how the dairy works with 40 neighboring farms to source feed for the high-forage diet fed on the farm.

At the next stop, the group learned how the Gerrits family has integrated cropping into the dairy with both entities managed by brothers Tom and Mike Gerrits. Country Aire Farms in Greenleaf milks 2,200 cows in a 40-stall rotary parlor and works 3,600 acres for crops. The group learned of the farm’s new sand settling lanes and how they are continuing to modify them to recoup the most sand possible.



Bob Schuessler shared the family history of his farm and how his own family continued the tradition of expansion, building it up to a 300-cow and 1,000-heifer operation. Here the low-cost swing parlor and new three-row freestall barn with drovers lane were highlighted.

Before returning to Minnesota, the tour made one last stop at Rosendale Dairy . Just after completing its final expansion in the spring, this 8,000-cow dairy is the largest in Wisconsin. With side-by-side 80-cow rotary parlors and two-cross ventilated barns, cow comfort is of utmost importance here. PD

TOP: More than 50 dairy producers and enthusiasts from Minnesota are pictured in front of Country Aire Farms.

MIDDLE: After seeing the feeding and digester operations at Holsum Elm Dairy, guests walked back up to the parlor’s observation room for one last chance to ask questions.

BOTTOM: This three-row barn was of interest to some of the tour participants that were looking at their next building venture.