Operation linked to Green Valley DairyBy:
Scott Williams, firstname.lastname@example.org
Leader Photo by Scott Williams
Paul Jacobs of Jacobs Brothers explains the system used to manage and store manure from a herd currently estimated at nearly 3,000 calves at the town of Washington farm.
Leader Photo by Scott Williams
Calves raised at the Jacobs Brothers farm either wind up as cows at Green Valley Dairy or as steers sent to a meat-processing plant.
The family behind Green Valley Dairy, one of Shawano County’s largest dairy operations, is embarking on a major expansion on a farm near White Clay Lake.
Used exclusively to raise calves, the town of Washington farm could grow to include four new barns and could expand its herd by 2,000 calves, to nearly 5,000.
County and local officials have approved the project, which they applaud as a positive sign of growth within the local farming industry.
“It’s a win-win,” town chairman James Schneider said. “We’re more than happy with the farmers who are trying to build something decent.”
The young stock raised on the Jacobs Brothers farm at W3171 Lodge Road generally wind up as cows producing milk at Green Valley Dairy or as steer shipped to a meat-processing plant in Kansas.
Construction has started on a barn to house another 660 calves, and long-range plans include three more new barns large enough for about 450 calves each.
Paul Jacobs, manager of the calf operation, said he and his family members are excited about the expansion. But they are moving cautiously, he said, to ensure that each phase of the project makes sense from the perspective of business, animal welfare and environmental protection.
“It’s a way to continue to grow,” Jacobs said. “We really want to do it, but we want to be responsible about it.”
Located north of County Road E, the 400-acre farm is about a half-mile south of White Clay Lake.
Before approving the expansion, Shawano County planners considered the Jacobs Brothers’ existing system of livestock waste management. With manure diverted to underground concrete storage tanks, officials determined that the farm’s growth plan presented no environmental risks.
The chairman of the White Clay Lake Protective & Rehabilitation District assured county officials that the lake community supported the farm expansion.
“Green Valley has been real good to all the neighbors,” lake district chairman Dennis Muck said.
Green Valley Dairy, located about 5 miles to the east, includes some 7,000 acres and is permitted by the state to maintain about 4,000 animals, which ranks among the largest dairy operations in Shawano County.
In addition to Paul Jacobs, the business includes his father, uncle and two other brothers.
The family purchased the Lodge Road property about 10 years ago from Tom Brunner and his family. The traditional dairy farm was transformed into the current calf operation, with five large barns filled with calves born at Green Valley Dairy or purchased elsewhere.
Brunner, who lives across the road, said he is impressed with what Jacobs Brothers has built, and he is pleased to see the business growing.
“It’s state-of-the-art,” he said. “I’m glad to see them making good use of the land.”
The calves are raised at the farm until they are 160 days old, at which point heifers are shipped to Iowa and then transferred about 16 months later to Green Valley Dairy, just in time to deliver calves and begin producing milk. The steer, at 160 days old, are shipped to the Kansas processing plant.
Jacobs Brothers, which owns the calf operation separately from Green Valley Dairy, has boosted its purchasing of steer calves. In fact, the first new 660-foot-long barn constructed in the expansion is designed to be populated entirely with young steer.
Jacobs said the diversification has been successful.
“It’s a significant portion of the business,” he said.
After the first phase of expansion is completed in September, officials will evaluate and decide whether to go ahead with three other new barns, each 480 feet long.
Jacobs would not discuss the investment involved in the project, although he said the family has spent much developing its manure management system. The current expansion, he said, would not deviate from that same commitment to protecting the environment and keeping a healthy place for the animals.
“We want to maintain that clean, environmentally responsible track record,” he said. “It’s pretty important to us.”
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