DARLINGTON – Highway Dairy Farms of Darlington will be hosting the 45th Lafayette County Dairy Breakfast on Saturday, June 12 from 6:30-10:30 a.m., for the second time after 40 years.
Highway Dairy Farms is owned and operated by siblings Jay Stauffacher and Jean Staffaucher. They originally planned on hosting it last year, which would have been the 40th anniversary of hosting the breakfast, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the breakfast was cancelled and in its place was a drive-thru breakfast. Both Jay and Jean wanted to make sure people got back to being on their farm.
“We realized [the breakfast] needs to be on a farm. That’s what draws people,” Jay said. “It just brings an extra experience. It gets people to where they can see how we do things and where their food comes from.”
Things are really different from the days when both Staffaucher’s father used to milk. In 1980 their farm became the first farm in Lafayette County to host the dairy breakfast on a farm.
“In 1980, we were milking probably right around 200 cows and the parlor was just built by our grandpa in 1967. We were a more diversified dairy with our steers and pigs and cash crops. We are a more dedicated dairy,” Jay said.
Now the farm hosts 1,140 cows, milking and dry. The crops they grow are no longer for cash but to feed their herd. The calves are raised at Paramount Calves southwest of Darlington by Ken Norgaard and family since 2006.
Since their expansion, they don’t raise their heifers on the farm but have them raised in southwest Kansas.
“The biggest reasons we did that is because we didn’t have enough land base to raise heifers and cows and would have to start purchasing feed instead of growing it,” Jay explained.
They currently produce 90,000 pounds of milk a day or just short of 11,000 gallons of milk, nearly 2 tanker loads a day. It takes about 13 hours to fill a tank. The milk is then taken to Grande Cheese near Juda. Roelli Trucking has hauled their milk since 1957.
“Their grandpa started hauling for my grandpa. We have a long-standing relationship with them. It is part of a tradition,” Jay said.
Their family has been involved in not only the dairy industry through their farm but also being part of the Dairy Promotion Committee. Jay has been part of the Dairy Promotion Committee since 1996. Their father was part of the first committee back in the 1970s.
“Our family has always believed in promoting our dairy products, whether it’s with the dairy breakfast on the farm or supporting others through other organizations, like Day at the Dairy,” Jay said.
Highway Dairy Farms, along with Redrock View Farms, Cottonwood Dairy and Darlington Ridge Farm, host fourth grade students each year from surrounding school districts and teach them about what life is like on the farm.
“We are looking forward to hosting again and inviting everyone in,” Jay said.
The traditional breakfast will be served with scrambled eggs with ham and cheese, sausage links, donuts, pudding, milk, and coffee. The Vesperman Farms Ice Cream truck provided by Southwest Technical College of Wisconsin will be serving up ice cream.
The Swamp Bottom Boys will be performing and there will be plenty of events for the whole family such as a petting zoo, children’s corner, farm tours on a wagon and this year Cheese Carving by Troy Landwehr from Kerrigan Brothers, who will be cutting a 40 pound block of cheddar, donated by Roelli Cheese into a surprise dairy item.
Free parking will be available on the farm grounds. The farm is located north of Darlington on HWY 23.