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Early start helps Wisconsin’s Kaila Wussow build a herd and long list of dairy achievements

Progressive Dairyman Editor Audrey Schmitz Published on 09 June 2017
Kaila Wussow's and parents Ron and Nicole Wussow

Most parents gift their toddlers with toys and cuddly teddy bears. However, little Kaila Wussow’s parents, Ron and Nicole Wussow, wanted to give her something a bit more lifelike.

“When I was just 1 year old, my parents bought me my first Jersey calf ever,” Wussow explains. “At the time, they were 100 percent a Holstein herd.”

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Since her first Jersey calf, Wussow has grown her herd to more than 30 head of cattle within her parents’ herd. Because of her Jerseys, Wussow’s parents grew fond of the breed. Today, their 100-cow herd in Cecil, Wisconsin, is primarily made up of Jerseys with a few Holsteins.

Wussow considers her herd unique because she focuses on strong, diverse traits to reach different markets within the dairy industry.

“Some herds focus on one area, whether that be production, genomics or type,” Wussow says. “Within my herd of animals, I have really been trying to reach into many different areas and try to be as diverse as I can to develop the animals I have.”

Her work to diversify her herd has paid off as her cows produce well in the bulk tank, have well-attached udders and sound feet and legs, as well as respectable genomic evaluations. Wussow’s success does not stop there.

“In 2013, I exhibited the reserve supreme champion best bred and owned female at the Wisconsin Jr. State Fair, which was very exciting for me because that cow actually was a direct descendant of the first Jersey my parents got me when I was just one,” Wussow says.

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Kaila Wussow and her family

Wussow and her family participate in local, state and national shows ranging from county fairs to the All-American Show in Louisville, Kentucky. Many of their show animals have been bred and owned, and received numerous Jr. All-American and Reserve Jr. All-American titles.

While growing up, Wussow was active in both 4-H and FFA, participating in dairy quiz bowl, dairy judging and dairy management competitions. In 2015, she was a member of the fourth-place dairy quiz bowl team at the national competition in Louisville, Kentucky, as well as the second-place national dairy management team in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Wussow has served in various officer positions for the Wisconsin Jersey Breeder’s Association and recently finished serving as the 2016 Wisconsin Jersey Queen. She also placed fourth in the 2016 National Youth Achievement contest through the American Jersey Cattle Association.

When Wussow first joined FFA, she decided it was time for her to take the reins and start making decisions for her herd with regards to marketing strategies, financials, breeding and culling.

“I knew I had animals in a productive business, but I never realized what I had until I sat down with my adviser and looked at all the numbers and my inventory,” Wussow says. “After that, I was kind of amazed at what I had developed with my parents.”

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In 2015, Wussow won the National Dairy Entrepreneurship Proficiency Award at the National FFA Convention in Louisville, Kentucky.

“When I was named the national winner, I was just shocked because I didn’t fully expect it,” Wussow says. “In the end, it truly made all the work building my herd worth it and was a great way to cap off my FFA career.”

Wussow is currently a sophomore dual majoring in dairy science and agricultural marketing communications with a minor in agricultural business at the University of Wisconsin – River Falls. Last summer, she was the communications intern for East Central Select Sires.

“I really think I got a lot out of it because I was able to ask the right questions and listen to answers. I came to really value the different ideas and management practices the farmers had,” Wussow says. “I think one can get so much more credibility with the farmer when they can relate to what the farmer has been going through.”

This coming summer, Wussow will be the communications intern for Accelerated Genetics, writing articles and updating their website.

After graduation, she would like to stay involved in the dairy industry by working for a dairy marketing firm. Later, she would like to return to the family farm and become the fifth generation to own and operate the dairy. Her goal is to one day expand her herd and business by opening a cheese and meat shop along the local highway that tourists frequently use on weekends.

“I would also really like to be active in organizations and promote youth involvement in the dairy industry because I think those organizations really helped me develop into the individual I am today,” Wussow says. “I would like to help them find their passion for agriculture like my leaders helped me.”  end mark

PHOTO 1: n 2015, Wussow won the National Dairy Entrepreneurship Proficiency Award at the National FFA Convention in Louisville, Kentucky. She’s pictured here with her parents, Ron and Nicole Wussow, who encouraged her interest in agriculture from a young age.

PHOTO 2: Wussow and her family participate in local, state and national shows ranging from county fairs to the All-American Show in Louisville, Kentucky. Photos provided by Kaila Wussow.

Audrey Schmitz
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