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Custom-made heifers by Larsons

Randy and Lori Larson of Maiden Rock stand by the automatic feeding machine inside their calf barn. Photo by Sean Scallon.1 / 2
Calves await their turn at the automatic feeding station. Photo by Sean Scallon.2 / 2

MAIDEN ROCK--Emotional attachment to cows at the Larson farm on CTH U south of Plum City in the Town of Maiden Rock isn’t a problem, according to Lori Larson, even though their 325-head herd isn’t owned by them.

“We have too many cows to become attached  them,” Larson said. “And new ones are coming in as soon as the raised ones are going out.”

But this is not an assembly line process. Great time and care are put in by the Larsons, Randy and Lori, on the LoRan Rolling Acres Farm to raise young cows to be used for milk production on larger farms, custom-made heifers, to coin a phrase.

Randy Larson switched to this kind of specialty farming from milking for stability.

“Constant numbers and constant checks,” Randy said. “I wanted to get away from the fluctuation of markets to something that was more stable in terms of income.”

More stable income, but also more flexibility in the aspects of the milking process for the young cows.

“It’s a full-time job and we’re still limited when it comes to vacations just like other farmers,” Lori said. “But it’s something we enjoy and that the two of us can handle.”

The Larsons, who will be hosting this year’s Pierce County Dairy Breakfast on Saturday from 7-11 a.m., will get newborn cattle about a week to 10-days-old, when they are put on automatic feeders in their calf barn. Only one farm in Pierce County, Randy said, has a similar system.

The calves are fed automatically and weaned for at least 42-45 days, and then are moved to different barns on their farm over a several-month period of time. The bulls are shipped off to other farms while the heifers are sent back to their original owners. The Larsons have contracts to raise cows for the larger Fetzer and Cebula dairy farms in Eastern Pierce County.

“They’re into milk production and it saves them time and cost of raising the cows when they can have someone else do it for them. So its important on our end to do a good job to raise such cows in order to fulfill our contracts.”