Ken and Jackie Feltz
“I think that’s sort of unique,” says Ken. “Between the farm and our new farm store that opened in June, we’ll all be working here.”
Ken and Jackie have owned and operated the dairy since 1995. They started with 50 cows and a stanchion barn. Today they crop 800 acres of corn and alfalfa, and employ 11 people on the farm in addition to 13 working in the store. Jared is the herdsman and manager of employees. They milk 600 Holsteins, 500 of them in a double 12 herringbone parlor. One hundred cows walk themselves through one of two robotic milkers installed in 2016.
Feltz Family Dairy’s retail store is run by Jackie with help from Jake, Taryn, Allison and Jenna. The store currently offers a wide range of food and non-food items that attract visitors from far and wide. Among the most popular items sold are ice cream, farm-raised beef, locally processed meats, cheese and chocolates. The Feltz Family Dairy Store has a Facebook page at which visitors can see what goods will be available and seasonal events they host.
In addition to the tours and events they’ve hosted in conjunction with the opening of the dairy store, the dairy has co-hosted Wisconsin Farm Technology Days in addition to various on-the-farm breakfasts and farm tours.
Though Ken grew up milking cows, he wasn’t always sure he wanted to be a farmer; he knew dairying was the epitome of full-time work. He desired a lifestyle that would allow him to spend time with family. Ultimately, his passion for managing cows and building a business was too strong to resist. In addition, he found encouragement, training and kinship in the Professional Dairy Producers organization.
“I remember my first PDPW meeting. It was during a time when there was a bit of a negative association with being a dairy farmer,” Ken says. “I noticed how everyone was dressed. They could’ve been doctors or in another professional occupation by the way they looked. And they were all very positive people; looking for solutions to problems. There was a sense of professionalism, and I liked it.”
The vibe Ken felt inspired him to become a member. Now 15 years later, he looks back appreciatively at the many PDPW Business Conference events and other programs they’ve attended.
“That’s how we ended up with the robotic milkers,” Ken says. “Jared and Kelly Sankey, two of our key employees, were on a PDPW 100-Pound Dairy Tour when they saw robots at Jake Peissig’s farm in Dorchester. They raved about it.”
Jared is a PDPW member too; he’s been attending events since he was in college and especially enjoys the Business Conference.
“You hear from experts who get into the nuts and bolts of a subject. You also hear from people outside of our industry who give a different perspective on business. And it’s great to be around other dairy farmers. They’re a special kind of people, always willing to lend a hand to each other.”