MADISON, Wis. — Farming with family members is a time-honored tradition — a tradition that has led one Wisconsin dairy farm family to a new honor. The Crave brothers of Waterloo, Wis., have been named 2008 World Dairy Expo Dairymen of the Year.
Four Crave brothers — Charles, George, Tom and Mark — received the prestigious title at the recent World Dairy Expo, in Madison, Wis., the world’s largest dairy industry event.
The brothers and their families are partners in Crave Brothers Farm and Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese. In the span of 30 years, the Crave brothers created a family dairy farm that has become internationally known for its productivity, innovation and environmental sustainability.
Along the way, they also created a farmstead cheese plant that uses milk from their farm in award-winning artisan cheeses.
The brothers, raised on a 40-cow Wisconsin dairy farm, started their business in 1978, milking 57 cows on a rented farm. They now farm 1,800 acres and milk 1,200 cows three times a day.
The Craves built one of the first modern free-stall milking facilities in their area, and were leaders in adapting a total mixed ration.
The brothers emphasize herd comfort and quality and their animals earn top honors at state and national shows.
The Crave brothers make it a priority to protect the environment in all aspects of their agri-business. For example, they have an anaerobic manure digester that creates enough electricity to power their farm, their on-farm cheesemaking facility, and 120 homes.
The Craves often partner with the nearby University of Wisconsin-Madison in engineering, profitability and on farm trials.
In 2002, the Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese plant was built to utilize the fresh milk from their cows and George became a licensed cheesemaker. The family now produces an array of prize-winning, hand-crafted specialty cheeses, including fresh Mozzarella, Mascarpone and proprietary varieties.
The Crave brothers and their families actively support agri-business organizations and projects, and open their farm to tours of nearly 1,000 visitors each year.