Chickens, bees have shared cows’ space

A quarter century of the highlights of agriculture in Calumet County is contained in the annual reports to the County Board by Orrin W. Meyer, who served as the University of Wisconsin Extension Service’s agriculture agent from July 1, 1945 to 1973.

Meyer’s report consisted of nine pages for 1945 but by 1951 it had grown to 28 pages. His first year report indicated that Calumet County had about 29,000 milk cows and a total of 45,000 dairy cattle.

It was the second year of the county Holstein-Friesian Breeders Association “400 Sale” of dozens of high pedigreed registered dairy cattle. The county also had breeder associations for Guernseys and Ayrshire/Brown Swiss, livestock shipping associations, Farm Bureau and Farmers Union chapters, and a boar and gilt sale sponsored by the swine breeders.

One highlight of agricultural production was the population of 232,800 laying chickens (a 1944 number) distributed among hundreds of farms who sold about 2.306 million dozen eggs during 1945, Meyer’s annual report stated. He noted that the poultry and egg sector was then providing 12.5 percent of the income for the county’s farm families.

During 1945, Calumet County also had five canneries that processed and shipped fresh vegetables. The main crops they handled were green peas, sweet corn and snap beans.

Other statistical information which Meyer cited for 1945 was the existence of spray rings which served 67 fruit orchards, seven certified grain seed growers, and 180 dairy herds which were on the testing program for milk components and quality. Later reports indicated that the per farm income averaged $13,320 in 1948 and $9,493 in 1949 for Calumet County.

In his reports for 1949 and 1950, Meyer pointed out that the population on 1,940 farms in Calumet County accounted for 9,693 of the county’s total population of 17,618. Those farms were cropping 116,191 of the county’s total land surface of 196,665 acres.

An inspection of 542 colonies of bees was conducted in the county on Oct. 15, 1949. Thirteen of the colonies were infested with pests detrimental to bees, resulting in the payment of indemnities to those colony owners.

The county’s farms had totals of 32,000 cows, 11,500 hogs, 3,200 horses, 600 sheep, and 192,200 chickens in 1950. The number of dairy herds in the Dairy Herd Improvement Association (DHIA) testing program had risen to 227.

Oats and barley demonstration plots were grown on the Eldon Schnell farm near Forest Junction with the Clinton and Ajax oats varieties yielding over 100 bushels per acre. A Calumet County Fruit Growers Association had been formed, with its 150 members being served by 10 orchard spray rings.

A grain demonstration plot on the Peter Biese farm in the town of Charlestown in 1950 had seven oats varieties producing yields of more than 100 bushels per acre, led by the 111 for Shelby and 110 for Clinton. Seven barley varieties were also part of the plot. The county had 24 certified grain seed growers in 1950.

For 1951, Meyer’s report indicated an average of 113,791 pounds of milk sold per farm from an average of 16 milking cows or an average of 7,112 pounds per cow (today’s average in the county has topped 24,000 pounds of milk per cow annually).

By then, 1,351 farms had milking machines and DHIA membership was up to 246. A county Quality Milk Improvement Association had been formed and two fieldmen were employed to serve milk-buying plants in the county.

Another banner year for oats yields was documented in 1951 with yields of Bonda oats hitting 136 bushels per acre on two county farms. The county’s grain crop plot was on the Albert Joas farm in the town of Stockbridge that year.

In his 25-page report for 1955, Meyer again mentioned the farm organizations previously cited along with a new Dairy Council, the Sugar Beet Growers, the county Cheesemakers Association, and the Lakeland Egg Cooperative, which was based at Valders in neighboring Manitowoc County. The number of certified grain seed growers had slipped to 20.

Meyer’s final annual report, in 1970, noted that 43 of the county’s 212 DHIA member dairy herd owners had installed pipeline milking, that milk production

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