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Judy Schuster’s registered herd has a prefix borrowed from the name of her grandpa’s farm in Waukesha County.

Judy Schuster’s registered herd has a prefix borrowed from the name of her grandpa’s farm in Waukesha County. Photo By Gloria Hafemeister

More women becoming full-time farmers

June 20, 2013 | 0 comments


Judy Schuster didn’t take the easy road when she decided on her career path but she admits for her it was the only course she ever wanted to follow.

Driven by her love for good dairy cows she milked cows for a neighbor throughout her high school years and then enrolled in the University of Wisconsin-Madison Farm and Industry Short Course.

Then she started her own business in 2000 on a dairy farm owned by Owen and Chris Breitkreutz at Hustisford.

During the first eight years she was employed by Breitkreutz and then they formed a partnership in which she owns the cattle and a few pieces of machinery and makes improvements to the facilities that benefit her cows and business.

She purchases the feed that Breitkreutz raises on the farm. She also rents about 50 acres from her parents to provide additional feed for her herd.

While her main duties are caring for the cows she assists Breitkreutz with field work and he helps her with barn chores.

When she’s not milking she’s feeding the dairy cows and the young stock, cleaning the barn, brushing cows, maintaining her records and working with animals that are in need of special care.

The barn has 49 stalls and that is the number she milks all the time. When cows are dry they stay on another farm until they calve and return to the milking herd.

Schuster owns 60 cows and has as many younger animals of varying ages. They are housed with animals close to their age. Some find their home on a second nearby farm owned by Breitkreutz and some stay at Judy’s parents’ farm several miles away.

Judy’s parents, Chuck and Jackie Schuster, no longer milk cows but they help Judy when she calls on them.


Earlier this year Judy had shoulder surgery. She relied on hired help and parents to milk and care for the animals while her shoulder healed. She admits her shoulder problems probably came from unloading too many feed bags too quickly from the truck. It’s a problem faced by many farmers, men and women.

Schuster’s interest in dairy really developed when she was in 4-H and FFA. She started her registered herd with the first calf that she showed at the fair.

As time went on calves from that animal and purchased registered animals from family lines she liked helped her grow the herd.

Schuster chose the name Bron-Derw for her herd. The Welsh name, registered with the Holstein Association, was her grandpa’s farm name. She says, "I believe it means green valley."

According to Schuster, "As I develop my herd I look at the pedigree and the production records when I make my breeding selections. I also look at components. They can’t just look nice. They need to pay the bills, too."

Part of her herd improvements come in the form of embryo transfers. She uses her least favorite cows in the herd as recipients for embryos from either her own favorite cows or purchased from other herds that she likes.

Her goal is to develop her herd to a point that she can sell embryos and milk cows from her herd.

Schuster says, "It’s very satisfying to see the results of the ET work we’ve been doing and watching the calves grow and develop and see their daughters enter the herd."

Developing cow families takes time, though, and she says it takes a lot of patience. Not every calf that is born is a heifer calf and that makes it take longer to develop the herd. She has not gotten into using sexed semen.

While the majority of her cows are black and white Holsteins, she has a few Jerseys and she is now looking at adding some Red and White Holsteins to the herd for variety.

ENJoys showing

Schuster enjoys showing cows but says it takes a lot of time.

Janelle Remington, a recent Dodgeland High School graduate, has been showing some of Judy’s animals and will show some at district shows and fairs this year. For a time she also housed some of the Remington family’s registered animals.

Currently Schuster’s cows stay in the stall barn all year. She says the barn is more comfortable when it is extremely cold or hot than if they are outside.

They go out about three hours a day for exercise, providing the opportunity for Schuster to replace bedding in their stalls and clean the barn.

Cows rest on comfortable rubber mats covered with chopped marsh hay.


Schuster’s goal is to someday own her own farm.

She would also like to eventually build a freestall barn and milking parlor. The freestalls would provide additional comfort for the cows and the milking parlor would make milking a little easier, physically, for her.

For now Schuster is content to just work on developing her herd. She says, "This is the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do and I’ve never been sorry I went into farming. The only time I ever have second thoughts is when it’s 20 below zero."

Because of her busy milking schedule she says it’s hard to get involved in too many outside activities.

She is on the board of the Dodge County Holstein Association and enjoys getting together with friends whenever time allows. When she can get away a little longer she likes road trips on her Harley.

Schuster drives a pickup truck but says the motorcycle provided a more economical way to get from her home at her parents’ farm to the Breitkreutz farm every day. She quickly learned she enjoyed driving the Harley.

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