Garden Valley Farmstead; Diversity in Swiss
Justin & Darci Daniels, Hixton, Wis., Canton III
Article & photos submitted by Darci Daniels
Garden Valley Farmstead is owned and operated by Justin and Darci Daniels and is located in Canton 3 near Hixton, WI. The dynamic couple purchased the building and 11 acres in 2011, started milking cows in 2013 and purchased their adjoining 120 acres in 2015. They currently milk about 50 cows and raise all of their own young stock. Their herd is about 75% registered Holsteins and 25% registered Brown Swiss. The swiss are holding their keep with a rolling herd average of almost 22,000 lbs, 4.3% fat, 3.4% protein and average score of 87.9 classification points.
The queen of the of the Brown Swiss herd at Garden Valley Farmstead is Jolly Rogers Judy EX93. She was purchased from the Jolly Rogers herd dispersal sale in 2015 and was scored 86 points at the time of purchase. A young cow Justin and Darci are really looking forward to developing is Lee-Anns Richard Glaze who will be scored for the first time in April 2018. She is a Richard x EX 90 Legacy x Bo Joy Ensign Gloria EX94. Her udder is welded on with a high, wide rear udder, she has a lot of strength and width throughout and walks on a great set of feet and legs. They hope that more depth will come with maturity.
The first swiss they owned together is Random Luck Wedding Present ET who is currently VG89. Justin purchased Present from Richard Thompson as a weaned calf and surprised Darci with it on their wedding day. Darci grew up with a few swiss and was active in the Brown Swiss Association as a junior and was also the Brown Swiss Queen in 2007. Brown Swiss work well in their herd for many reasons. Justin and Darci like that they are similar in size to the Holsteins so they work well in their stalls and at the feed bunk. Swiss are built for longevity and stay in the herd for a long time which allows other replacements to be sold for dairy sales which helps cash flow especially when milk price is low. They also like that swiss are able to produce a higher volume of milk but with higher fat and protein. Justin and Darci recently achieved a long-time goal of shipping seven pounds of combined fat and protein per cow with the help of their brown cows. Docile temperament is another bonus as the Daniels have two small children who work along side them on the farm.
The main reasons the swiss herd continues to grow at Garden Valley Farmstead is their milk quality is perfect for making cheese. Justin and Darci have recently diversified into having a portion of their milk made into cheese and are marketing it themselves online at gardenvalleyfarmstead.com and in their on-farm retail store. Brown swiss milk is almost the perfect ratio of fat and protein for making great cheese and about 33% of the breed is Kappa Casein BB which yields a high volume of a firmer cheese. Right now they are marketing a white mild cheddar with plans to do fresh cheese curds for farmers markets this summer. Darci plans to get her cheesemakers license and make their own cheese without the milk ever leaving the farm in the future but right now she needs to stay focused on taking care of their family and the cows.
As Justin and Darci look to the future they plan to continue to grow their Brown Swiss herd especially as the explore more grazing, higher grass forage diets and cheese marketing opportunities. They also hope to do some more showing as their kids grow and to get more involved in the Brown Swiss Association. They are excited to see where the Brown Swiss breed takes them.
"The main reasons the Swiss herd continues to grow at Garden Valley Farmstead is their milk quality is perfect for making cheese."
- About 33% of the breed is Kappa Casein BB which yields a high volume of firmer cheese.