Current Progressive Dairy digital edition

New Hire Laurie Winkelman

PD Staff Published on 26 April 2011


Laurie Winkelman
Appleton, Wisconsin
Dairy Nutritionist – Technical Services
Vita Plus



Please describe your agricultural background
I grew up on a 130-cow Brown Swiss and Holstein dairy farm in Watertown, Wisconsin (Twinkle-Hill Farm, LLC) with my parents, John and Dee, and older sister Jeannie. My passion for dairy cows and the dairy industry was developed by participating in dairy youth programs like 4-H, FFA, and the junior breed associations.

Though I am not involved in the day-to-day operation of the farm today, I am still very involved in making sire selection and genetic decisions, particularly in the Brown Swiss herd. I am excited to be back in Wisconsin and closer to our farm after living out of the state for the last eight years.

What education are you bringing with you to this position?
In 2003, I received my Bachelor of Science degree in dairy science and agricultural journalism from the University of Wisconsin–Madison . I completed my Master of Science degree at Ohio State University in 2005, where my research was focused on transition cows.

In February 2011, I completed the requirements for my Ph.D. at Cornell University (Ithaca, NY), where my research with Dr. Tom Overton focused on the regulation of milk protein production.

Besides continued education in dairy science, there is another common theme that is threaded between all of these schools – the color red (I have lots of red clothing!)


What territory will you cover?
I will be mostly working in Eastern Wisconsin, but may have the opportunity to work with Vita Plus employees and dairy producers throughout the Midwest.

What will be your new responsibilities?
As a dairy nutritionist with Vita Plus, I will work with dairy producers to provide support to their nutrition and management programs.

In addition to the “standard” dairy nutritionist role, I will also provide technical support to the growing team of Vita Plus nutritionists, particularly in eastern Wisconsin, but also to the entire Vita Plus team in the Midwest.

What excites you most about working in your new role?
I am really excited to put some of my school work to good use – after all, I was in school for a long time! I really enjoy interacting with dairy producers and their operations.

It is so amazing to see the diversity in our industry. There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to managing dairy farms, and I am excited to see many more farms and hopefully help them improve profitability and animal well-being.

How will you be of most help to producers in your region or area of expertise?
With my research experience during my graduate education, I have a keen interest in transition cows and milk component production. Both of these are huge areas of opportunity to improve the bottom-line.

What’s your best story from the first day on the job?
My first two days on the job were spent at the PDPW Conference in Madison. You can’t beat networking with progressive producers and listening to a fantastic lineup of speakers as your first couple days on the job!


Why did you choose this company?
When I was considering various job opportunities, I talked to some of my mentors for advice. In one of the conversations I had, I was told “If you have a chance to work for Vita Plus, take it.”

After a little more research and decision-making, I agreed. After surveying the team of people Vita Plus has assembled over the years, I was very excited to join a team of people with incredible amounts of skill and knowledge about the dairy industry.

It was important for me to surround myself with a strong resource and support group of people. Also, Vita Plus is an employee-owned company, and I believe this provides a unique environment that fosters teamwork and support among all employees.

What goals would you like to accomplish while in this position?
Overall, I want to help our customers and dairy producers be viable in the dairy industry. If you take care of the cows, they will take care of you!

My goal is to provide our customers with the tools they need to be successful in the dairy industry, regardless of size or overall operational goals. PD