A Family Farm Tradition
This farming operation was started by Norman and Judy Busse in 1969. The original herd consisted of 30 cows. Over the years the number of cows expanded to 100 and additional land was purchased. The farm was incorporated in 1992 to allow for the addition of partners in the business. In October of 1999 the milk cows were sold and the farm converted to a calf ranch.
Currently, there are four partners actively involved in Busse’s Barron Acres (BBA), Norman and Judy Busse, Sherry Arnold and Micah Halvorson. BBA employs approximately 25 full and part-time employees. Busse’s Barron Acres is a 700 acre operation in Northwest Wisconsin. Approximately 350 acres of corn are grown annually. We also grow an average of 300 acres of alfalfa hay. Busse’s Barron Acres specializes in raising heifer calves for 13 different dairies. Approximately 5500 calves will be started in 2015.
What We Do AT BBA
Every calf at BBA is a valuable asset to the dairy from which she comes. She is the future milk cow. Her care during the first few months of life will predict how much milk she will produce later as a cow. It is for this reason we take extraordinary care of each calf. How do we do that? Every day we receive newborn calves on the farm. Most arrive in a calf trailer designed and dedicated to transporting only baby calves. Calves, which are picked up by our employees, ride in a clean, fully enclosed, well ventilated, rubber lined trailer.
Upon arrival calves receive a series of vaccinations and vitamins to help prevent calf illnesses and enhance the calf’s immune system. Each calf is then unloaded to a clean dry calf hut that is bedded with sawdust or straw. This hut is about 4 x 8 feet in size and has an outside wire pen. Our calves are fed a milk replacer consisting of all natural milk products. The milk replacer is specially formulated with vitamins and minerals to promote calf health and a strong immune system.
Revolutionizing Calf Care
Calves are weaned off milk and moved out of their huts at 7-8 weeks of age into a weaning barn. At 5 months of age, calves will leave our facilities and be returned to the dairy or a secondary grower. The secondary grower will return a bred heifer back to the dairy approximately 30 days prior to giving birth.Why Do We Need Calf Ranches?
The dairy industry has seen many changes in the last few years. Many dairy producers have changed their focus from trying to do all aspects of dairy farming, to concentrating on producing high quality milk. Their main goal is to maximize cow comfort and care and in return yield a healthier cow which can produce more milk.
Our job as a custom calf raiser is a result of this change. Dairies are looking for people to raise their future cows. By focusing our talents on a specific age of animal, we can provide care, which is tailor-made for our calves. Our facilities, from our calf huts to our barns are designed for calf socialization, calf comfort, safety and animal health. By achieving these goals we can return 96 to 99 percent of calves back to the dairy, which is well above the national average.
As we manage an expanding business and reflect on our growth, we are reminded that we share a similar vision as Walt Disney. Disney said that one of the secrets to his success was simply to “get a good idea and stay with it. Work at it until it’s done and done right.” That philosophy sums up what we do at BBA. As we evolve and grow, we remain true to our core values. Everything we do focuses on one goal, which is to raise well nourished and healthy calves. BBA is well prepared for its future. We understand the economic and environmental pressures that face dairies and farms today. Our confidence in delivering consistent, quality results despite the many challenges we face speaks to our ability to adapt, execute and optimize the many opportunities we face daily.