Meet Jim and Sarah Peterson, a father-daughter duo from Kewaskum, Wisconsin. Together, they feed 600-head of Holstein steers from 200 pounds to finish on their family farm - Hillside Farms.
Information provided by: Sarah Peterson
Jim and his daughter, Sarah, are the only full-time workers on the farm. Jim’s wife, Carla, works off the farm but helps occasionally as needed. Sarah graduated from UW-Platteville in December of 2017 with a double major in Agricultural Business and Animal Science and chose to come back to the farm after college. Jim and Sarah work together on nearly all the daily tasks of the farm, including the seasonal field work.
We raise about 600 dairy steers from 200 pounds to finish. We feed whole shell corn, distillers from the ethanol plant, a mineral mix from the local elevator and a little bit of forage. We run about 300 acres where we grow corn, beans, barley and occasionally mix in wheat or oats. We also provide custom planting and baling services to other farmers in the area.
Jim was raised on a farm with his dad and brothers. After he married his wife, Carla, they bought their own farm in 1989, about 10 miles away. He started with 45 Jersey cows that he had been keeping by his dad’s farm until he purchased his own. By himself, he milked for about 8 years in stanchions before he decided to start raising steers instead of building a milking parlor. He started with 100 steers and worked to build the herd to where it is today.
We are a true family farm, only run by Jim and Sarah. Jim never wanted to get bigger than what he could do himself and when Sarah decided to come back to the farm after college, he grew just enough to support both.
We occasionally have farm tours for high school students. The local high school brings an ag class out at least once a year for a farm tour. The past few years, we also have given farm tours to a class of high school students from Milwaukee. Most have never been on a farm, so it is neat to see how they react to the animals. It’s also very important, for that group especially, to show how we treat the animals and the relationship we have with them.
"It's also very important to show how we treat the animals and the relationship we have with them."
We sell some of our steers to the local meat market. We sell the rest to JBS Packing in Green Bay, where our local beef can be distributed.
We recently became BQA certified. While we have been using the same practices for the entire life of the farm, this certifies what we have always done - treat our animals humanely and with respect. Being able to give tours to young people of all different backgrounds helps us to close the gap between the misinformation circulated in the media and what really happens on the farm. We enjoy being able to tell our story and helping people understand where their food comes from.
"We enjoy being able to tell our story and helping people understand where their food comes from."
We revisited Hillside Farms in May 2021 to talk about Jim and Sarah's commitment to sustainability.