Burlington, News

Schaal family to host Breakfast on the Farm

The Schaal family – Brian and Renee Schaal (front from left) and their children Ashley and Michael (back from left), are a fourth-generation family business (Submitted/Southern Lakes Newspapers).

Fourth generation farm family looks forward to welcoming visitors

By Jason Arndt

Schaal Dairy Farm in the Town of Dover will serve as the venue for the 2024 Racine County Breakfast on Farm.

Racine County Breakfast on the Farm, which coincides with June Dairy Month in Wisconsin, will run from 7 until 11 a.m. June 22.

Brian Schaal, who owns the farm with his wife, Renee, said the annual event aims to offer a variety of activities while educating the public on agriculture.

“It is a good day for our community, I think,” he said. “People are becoming further removed from agriculture production, so this gives people a first-hand chance to come to the farm and see where the process starts.”

Schaal Dairy Farm, 1800 McKee Rd., Burlington, is in its fourth generation and last hosted county breakfast in 2016.

In 2023, Swan’s Pumpkin Farm in Franksville hosted the event, which was revived in 2015 following a lengthy hiatus.

Tickets are $10 each, while children younger than 5 eat free.

For more information, including how to order tickets, visit racinebreakfast.com.

Brian and Renee, parents of Michael and Ashley, bought the business from Brian’s parents. It features about 400 Holstein and Jersey cows as well as hundreds of acres of crops.

“We also raise crops, corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa, with the majority of that going toward feeding the cows,” Brian said.

Schaal Dairy Farm, which has three full-time employees, milks cows twice per day and houses them in a free-stall barn bedded with sand.

Additionally, the farm has been actively involved in educational opportunities year-round, including school tours and hosting an annual Food for America event with Burlington FFA.

Renee, who is also a crop insurance agent, said a group of students from Racine had the kids marveling at fresh-cut grass and the open fields.

She said opening the farm to the community is vital, considering the decline in Racine County farms.

“I feel it is really important to take any opportunity that we can to open our farm and welcome people, just to see how farmers care for their animals and what they do, because we are seeing less and less farms in Racine County,” Renee said.

The county has a little more than a dozen dairy farms, down from about 25 roughly two decades ago.

Fun for everyone
In addition to breakfast consisting of eggs, sausage, milk, ice cream, the event includes activities, such as tractor rides, children’s games, a petting zoo, live music, and more.

Renee said she has a fondness for the breakfast, since she often sees people experiencing agriculture for the first time and overall, it’s just a feel-good event.

“I enjoy seeing everyone come to the farm,” she said. “You usually don’t see many people on their cell phones, you usually see them enjoy the open spaces, and seeing all of the different animals. I love the atmosphere every year.”

Racine County Breakfast on the Farm also includes vendor booths for people looking to bring home souvenirs from the family-friendly event.

“We are going to have local vendors here, like a farmers market, and 4-H,” Renee said. “It’s a really good day to bring your family.”

A family business
The family originated in 1844 with a land grant to James McDonald. The McDonald family, relatives of Virginia, sold the farm to Harvey and Virginia in 1961.

In 2000, Mike and Kathy Schaal bought the farm from Harvey, and two years later, Mike and Brian formed Schaal Dairy Farm LLP.

Three years ago, Brian and Renee purchased the dairy partnership from Mike and Kathy Schaal and have continued the family business.

Brian and Mike work daily on the farm – managing herd health, milk quality, nutrition and crops within the sprawling landscape.

Michael and Ashley, the children of Brian and Renee, assist with farm operations as often as possible.

A graduate of Burlington High School, Michael attends Iowa State University in Ames, where he is majoring in agriculture and actively contributes to the farm when he’s home.

Ashley Schaal, a member of Burlington FFA, is a junior at BHS and conducts daily chores when she is not attending school or participating in co-curricular activities, such as 4-H, and FBLA.

“People need to understand that it is a family business,” Renee explained.

Dairy facts
According to Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, the state is home to nearly a quarter of the nation’s dairy farms, 95% of which are family-owned.

The Wisconsin dairy industry generates more than $45.6 billion for the state’s economy, more than the combined total of Florida citrus and Idaho potatoes, according to the group.

At Schaal Dairy Farm, the family-owned business is part of Foremost Farms, one of the largest dairy cooperatives in the United States.

“The majority of our milk produced is for cheese or butter,” Brian said, adding that he estimates about 90% of milk produced in Wisconsin is used for cheese.

“A lot of the cheese that Foremost makes is becoming shredded mozzarella cheese, whether it’s for a restaurant for pizza, or for grocery store frozen pizza,” Brian added.

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