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Life after dairy: Schaufelbergers close one door to open others

Karena Elliott for Progressive Dairyman Published on 11 September 2017
The Schaufelberger family

Late last year, an outstanding Illinois Holstein herd dispersed, but as the barn door closed, other doors opened up for Boyd and Sandy Schaufelberger and the legacy of Schaufine Farms.

“I am proud of breeding a herd of cows that fellow dairymen valued,” offers Boyd Schaufelberger. “Making money and making very good friends in the business is a blessing.”

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Boyd is the son of Dale and Oleta Schaufelberger and is the second generation to dairy on his family’s farm in Greenville, Illinois. “Mom and Dad moved to the farm in 1945,” he says.

Boyd went into partnership with his parents in 1974. He met his future wife, Sandy Lawler, at the county fair. They married in 1980. “We bought the dairy, including 60 cows and 300 acres,” explains Boyd.

Sandy milked full-time the first five years. “Life is about choices,” she counsels. “Choose wisely. I chose Boyd; he chose dairy; and so the story began.”

Their daughter Amy returned home in July of 2015 to farm full-time with her parents. By 2016, they were milking 120 cows and farming 950 crop acres. “We always raised all our feed and sold cash grain,” Boyd further explains. The herd had never looked better.

“I always imagined that I would plan an exit three to five years in advance,” admits Boyd. “But our sale decision was made four to five months ahead.” Several factors came together at the same time, and the Schaufelbergers felt they were all pointing the same direction.

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“After Amy joined the farm in 2015, we thought she would be the next generation,” concedes Boyd. But she had fallen in love with dairyman Brad Hoover. They were planning a 2017 wedding, which included a move to Brook Corner Holsteins in Pennsylvania.

“When it became apparent that she would be moving 12 hours away, we started rethinking the future,” he shares. The flexibility to travel had grown more important for Boyd and Sandy. “Our daughter Erin and her family live 100 miles away,” he adds. The three grandchildren had claimed a special priority in the lives of Grandma Sandy and PawPaw.

With Amy’s upcoming move, Boyd feared the management level would suffer. “Amy brought passion,” he acknowledges. “The herd was as good as ever, and I didn’t want to see it decline.”

The time had come.

“My family didn’t take the decision to sell the cows seriously at first,” mentions Boyd. And leaving the only occupation and lifestyle he had ever known was not easy. “Some days I would wake up with peace about the decision,” he cautions. “Then sometime during the day, I would think, ‘What am I doing?’”

Boyd and Sandy decided to disperse their herd with an auction held Friday, Dec. 3, 2016. Schaufine Farms contracted with Scott Courtney of Courtney Sales LLC in Ridgeway, Iowa.

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Supporting the next generation of dairymen was an important priority for Boyd. Any junior who purchased an animal during the auction was entered in a drawing to win a special heifer.

“Kasey Clanton from Mulberry Grove, Illinois, won a 3-month-old calf featured in the front of the sale catalog,” he shares proudly. Seven additional juniors won semen donations.

“There is great risk with an auction, but we were blessed with the results,” assures Boyd. Lot 8 featured the winner of the 2016 Illinois State 2-year-old Holstein Futurity. It was the top-selling lot at $21,000.

“For 39 of the 42 years, I did every morning milking and most evening feedings,” observes Boyd. His health experienced dramatic changes during that time. “Chores became more difficult with age,” he shares. Boyd underwent knee replacement surgery in 2011. Today, he admits, other joints are deteriorating.

“Not dairying always seemed in the far distance, but I did dream about having more ‘optional time,’” he ruminates. Just don’t make the mistake of referring to Schaufelberger as retired.

“We still have about 100 young animals on the farm,” he counters. “We have 950 acres of cropland to farm, so I am not retired.” Crops include corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa.

“My time is much more flexible, and I can get away more easily,” Boyd summarizes. Some of that travel over the next two years will be in service to the Holstein Association USA Inc. (HAUSA). Schaufelberger began his term as president in June of 2017.

“Although it is somewhat ironic to quit active dairying right before assuming the role of Holstein president, I feel I can serve the members better by having a more flexible schedule,” responds Boyd. “That is my main focus for the next two years.”

“Boyd is an approachable individual who enjoys member interaction,” describes John M. Meyer, chief executive officer of HAUSA. The Holstein Association is the world’s largest dairy breed organization and is currently experiencing unprecedented growth. In 2016, the association identified 690,553 Holsteins, an all-time record.

“Boyd’s a true ambassador for registered Holsteins because he knows the benefit they have provided to the Schaufelberger family,” commends Meyer.

Sandy’s advice for life after dairy? “Just don’t sit home and look at the empty barns and a ghost of a milking parlor,” she warns. That’s wise counsel from the woman who Boyd refers to as the glue that holds the family together.

Still, there are some things Boyd won’t miss about milking cows. “I don’t miss having a full day’s work in cold, snowy weather, getting up in the night to deliver a calf or trying to keep cows healthy in hot, humid weather,” he says.

Much like a family tree branches and grows, the impact of Boyd and Sandy’s Holstein herd stretches far beyond the borders of Illinois today. “The Schaufelberger dairy legacy has definitely relocated to Pennsylvania,” he says. Amy and her husband, Brad, took 11 Schaufine Farms animals to their Brook Corner farm.

“I hope those families do great things for them,” Boyd says, with pride. “We love to hear about our animals doing well for their new owners.”  end mark

PHOTO: The Schaufelberger family at their herd dispersal sale included, left to right: Brad Hoover, Amy (Schaufelberger) Hoover, Sandy Schaufelberger, Boyd Schaufelberger, Kris Davis [holding Daniel] and Erin (Schaufelberger) Davis [holding Sarah]. Photo provided by the Schaufelberger family, courtesy of Kelly McComb.

Karena Elliott is an international freelance writer. She makes her home in Amarillo, Texas.

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