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Family Dairies Come in All Sizes

06/15/2013 @ 8:50am

Families come in all shapes, sizes and colors. And so do family-owned dairy operations. 

Majestic View Dairy formed in Lancaster, Wisc., as an LLC in 1999.  John Haskins and the husband-wife team of Ron and Terri Abing started a 50/50 partnership and expanded to 600 cows.  Then in 2003, they expanded another barn to accommodate 1,000 cows.

Building the dairy made a big impression on the Abings’ children: son Jesse was 18 at the time; oldest daughter Sarah was 14 and Amanda was 10.  They were fascinated by all of the computers and high-tech equipment that was being installed to run the dairy operation.  The children learned the value of working hard and working together.  Jesse majored in Spanish and taught high school Spanish for five years before returning to graduate school.  He's pursuing a PhD in Spanish Linguistics at the University of Texas.  Meanwhile, both of the Abings’ daughters pursued Dairy Herd Management. Sarah graduated from Southwest Technical School, and Amanda graduated from Lake Shore Technical School. 

Amanda became a herd manager when she was just 19.  She works at Highway Dairy near Darlington, where she lives with her husband and their 7-month-old son Jacob.  

Sarah has served as herd manager for Majestic View Dairy since 2008.  Her husband, Buck Johnsen, also works at the dairy, breeding cattle and helping with agronomy work.  Sarah and Buck are the proud parents of 5-month-old son, Easton, and four-year-old daughter Amelia, who loves to help her mom and Grandma Terri give tours to school children and other interested folks.  

More than 4,000 children have visited Majestic View Dairy since Terri started giving tours about seven years ago.  Although it takes a lot of time to prepare for those groups, Terri says it’s worth it.  The two-hour tour gives children an overview of the milking process, as well as the behind-the-scenes that goes into caring for the cattle. They see the maternity pens, where cows take a two-month maternity leave before returning to the milk line, and the hospital barn, where special needs are met to return cows to good health. 

“I especially like the one-on-one conversations that occur with these groups,” says Terri. “We like to help answer questions they might have about our operation or why we do things a particular way. We also share fun facts like this one, 'It takes a baby about 1 year from the time it’s born until it takes its first steps. About an hour after it’s born, a calf takes its first steps'.” The tour concludes with a dairy buffet, including several varieties of cheese, assorted flavors of milk and portable yogurts.

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