Son-Bow Farms Celebrates 20 Years of Dairying
Traditionally, 20-year anniversaries are celebrated with China. Son-Bow Farms near Plum City, Wisconsin, recently celebrated its 20th year of business with Chinet.
Approximately 2,000 people – from as far away as Green Bay and as nearby as Plum City – gathered for breakfast during Pierce County’s Dairy Breakfast. Guests enjoyed Dad’s Belgium Waffles topped with fresh, Real® butter and whipped cream plus sides of fresh fruit and sausage links.
Wagon tours were given of the 1,000-cow dairy. Guests learned that cows’ tails were docked to keep their udders clean, and the daily average milk production of this highly productive farm is 90 pounds per cow. The rolling herd average is 32,000+ pounds and the somatic cell count (SCC) is under 150,000.
A sprinkler system could be seen showering the cows with cool water for 3 minutes every 12 minutes; these 15-minute cycles help keep cows comfortable, and comfortable cows produce more milk. Comfortable cows were seen throughout the barn, chewing their cud as they lounged in the sand bedding.
Tents were set up like a trade show, featuring everything from a Rethink Your Drink presentation about hidden sugar sources in common sports drinks to a demonstration on Hands Only CPR by Latham Forage Products Manager Corey Catt and his emergency service colleagues.
“What a great day!” said Jay Richardson, who along with his wife, Kristi, started Son-Bow Farms in 1994 as a 50-cow tie stall dairy operation. The dairy enterprise was attractive to the young couple, who was interested in adding value to their crops by feeding them to livestock.
Three years later, the Richardson’s expanded to a 120-cow free-stall barn and remodeled to a flat barn parlor. Also that year, they hired John Freund to manage the cows and Jeff Coss to manage the crops. Freund and Coss have become partners in the business. Gabe Weix, who became Agronomy Manager last year, also is a partner. Kristi puts her banking degree to work by doing payroll and bookkeeping for the operation. An accountant by trade, Jay keeps a close watch on the financials.
“Our mission is to be the premier employer of people, cows and agronomic practices,” adds Jay. “Our employees are dedicated day in and day out, embodying this mission statement. We’re also grateful for the support we’ve received from members of the community and local businesses throughout the years.”
When the Richardsons aren’t at work, you’re likely to find them at the track. Kristi has work in the pit office for more than 20 years. Jay started racing when he was 16 years old and continues to make circles with his Dirt Modified. Their 16-year-old son, Jason, is in his third year of racing Dirt Midwest Modified, lower-class primarily at the Red Cedar Speedway in Menomonie and at Eagle Valley Speedway in Jim Falls. Their 19-year-old son, Jacob, enjoys helping at the track when he can and loves music.
Whether they’re on the track or at a family gathering, the Richardsons are promoting Wisconsin’s dairy industry. Today they’re sharing a family favorite recipe for Cheesy Potatoes, which are perfect for holiday gatherings and potlucks.
Easy Au Gratin Potatoes
- 3-12 oz. pkg. frozen hash browns, thawed
- 1 ½ c. sour cream
- 1 ½ c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 can cream mushroom soup
- ¼ c. chopped onion
- Mix together everything but the potatoes.
- Then mix into the potatoes.
- Place in a greased 9 x 13 pan and pre-heat oven to 350°.
- Bake for 45 minutes covered.
- Uncover, top with ¼ c bread crumbs and shredded cheese and bake for 15 minutes.