Will Hensen doesn’t get to as many Dane County Breakfast on the Farm events as he’d like. Still, Hensen feels it is important to continue the tradition.
“Farming keeps you busy,” said Hensen. “I’ve been to only two [farm breakfasts] in my lifetime, but it’s always nice to see families get out to the farm and relate to the farm.”
Hensen Bros. Dairy, on Pheasant Branch Road in Waunakee, will host the 40th annual Dane County Breakfast on the Farm on Saturday, June 9. It’s one of the celebrations held for June Dairy Month in the area. The Moo Day Brunch will be held June 16 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Leeds Dairy LLC in Arlington on Hwy. K.
Lisa Emmer, who owns Leeds Dairy with her husband Jeff, enjoys the Moo Day Brunch, especially when seeing children interact with animals. Being able to give people an inside look into modern farming is also rewarding.
“It’s just always neat when you see the look on kids’ faces when they pet a cow and see how big it is,” said Lisa. “You think of the old stanchion barn, and you can show them how we do things now, with the efficiency and labor we have.”
More than 6,000 people are expected to attend the Dane County Breakfast on the Farm at Hensen Bros. Dairy, a fifth-generation farm that’s been in the Hensen family for 151 years.
The family farm comprises four partnerships, including Will and Kim Hensen; their son Kyle and his wife Megan and their two twin sons, Koltyn and Hoyt; Jim and Sue Hensen and their son Jason, his wife Tara and their two twins, Dylan and Ella.
Hensen Bros. Dairy has 500 Holstein milk cows, with around 500 replacement heifers, from baby calves to bred heifers.
The cows are milked three times per day, with each cow giving about 12 gallons per day. They are raised in a heated calf barn in individual pens. Then, they go to bedding packs until they reach about 300 pounds. From there, they are introduced into freestall groups depending on size and age.
Fed corn, corn silage, alfalfa, cottonseed, soybean meal, vitamins, minerals, corn gluten and soy, the cows at Hensen Bros. Dairy are all “homegrown,” meaning they never buy cows to bring into their herd.
Providing a comfortable environment for their cows is vital to the farm’s success. The freestall barn where the cows live is equipped with fans and sprinkler systems to keep the cows cool in the summer. State-of-the-art curtain walls with automatic control help the cows stay comfortable in any kind of weather, and mattress beds with sawdust bedding offer a relaxing place to sleep.
Hosting Breakfast on the Farm is a little nerve-wracking for Will Hensen. He and his partners have spent the last month trying to clean up the farm for the swarm of people expected to descend upon it Saturday. Will is looking forward to the event, though.
“I like to see the interaction between town people and people that don’t get to see farms very often and the animals and farm families,” said Hensen. “People are going to see how we milk cows and how we take care of cows with our free stall enclosure.”
Breakfast includes cheesy scrambled eggs, pancakes, sausage, yogurt, cheese, custard, milk and coffee. Samples of other dairy products will be offered in the Expo Area. Emcee Pam Janhke, farm director, will interview the hosts.
Cost for the event is $8 for ages 12 and up, $4 ages 3-11 and admission is free for ages 0-2. General parking will be off-site with free bus transportation to the farm.
Other attractions at Breakfast on the Farm include horse-drawn wagon rides by Treinen Farm, music by the Soggy Prairie Boys, Bessie the Dane Dairy Cow, large machinery displays, the chance to meet the Wisconsin Fairest of the Fair and Dane County’s Fairest of the Fair, face painting by WFU Kamp Kenwood, cow spots painting by Hinchley’s Dairy Farm, games, an expo area featuring dairy information and food samples, and education stations that teach attendees about calves, the milking area, feed and freestall barns.
Leeds Dairy is a completely new farm. Two years ago, it was just a field. The Emmers broke ground in September 2016. They moved in just over a year ago in April.
The Moo Day Brunch allows the Emmers the chance to educate people about farm life today. Getting ready for the event is a big job.
“I’ve been telling people it’s like hosting a big party,” said Lisa.
The food will be catered, including Pizza Hut pizza, grilled cheese sandwiches, yogurt, cheese, milk and ice cream sundaes.
There will be dairy tours, music, The Cloggers dance group, kids’ pedal pull and a Wisconsin Specialty cheese tasting for adults.