Rogers Family Doubles Herd Size in 2020
Hi, I’m Drew Rogers. I am the primary operator of my dairy farm located just outside of Soldiers Grove, Wis. I am joined by wife, Jessica, and our three beautiful children, Carter (12), Caleb (8) and Laney (4). Jessica works full-time for Vernon County-UW extension as a senior administrative assistant and the kids have school, but they are out helping me whenever and wherever they can.
Our family began dairy farming in November 2017. We had a small farm of 26 cows where I farmed part-time for Westby Creamery and worked full-time as a patrolman. I grew up helping out on my grandparents and other local dairy farms, but this was the first time I had a farm of my own. Grant Rudud, who is a fellow Westby patron, kindly mentored me through my first few years. He helped me purchase my first herd of cows and continues to be a valuable resource to me.
Over the last two years more than 1,100 dairy farms have ceased operation in Wisconsin. And though the number is sadly staggering, my family and I are incredibly grateful to have found a way to grow within the industry. At the end of 2020, we upgraded from 18 acres of non-tillable land in Viroqua, Wis. to a much larger, 90-acre farm in Soldier’s Grove, Wis. Now, we are able to milk twice as many cows with plenty of space for them to roam and graze.
Since upgrading, I’ve been able to quit my other job to farm full-time, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Being able to farm full time has always been the goal, so when we were randomly presented with the opportunity to purchase this new, larger farm, we were eager to check it out. After touring it, Jessica and I were sold. The location was great, and we could envision raising our family on the property, so we went for it.
We sold our house in Viroqua within two weeks and quickly got started on a couple of necessary renovations before we could begin our farming operation. First, we remodeled the barn as it had been sitting empty for roughly 20 years. The pipeline had to be brought up to code, the barn cleaner chute and motor had to be replaced, and then we had to do the whole works for the milk house — new bulk tank, cooler and vacuum pump. Additionally, we needed to install a well on the property for our operations. Then we hauled 200 baleage bales from our old farm to the new. However, because of the timing of the close on the new farm, we were forced to put up our corn silage at a friend’s house that generously allowed us to use some spare space.
Finally, we were able to move the cows to the new place in December and haven’t stopped since. It’s truly remarkable how perfectly all of the pieces fell into place for my family and I to be able to live this life.
From helping out on my grandparents’ farm as a kid, to relief milking for local farms as a teen, and to owning and operating my own farm now – it is my strong passion for dairy farming that brought me and my family to where we are today. We are proud and thankful to be able to live this life and work on a self-sustaining family dairy farm operation.