History and Operation of United Pride Dairy
United Pride Dairy started as a partnership between two unrelated families; Jon Pesko and Ed Jasurda joined their farms to make one larger farm – established in 1996, commonly referred to as “UPD”. Each individual family started farming in the Phillips area in 1911, making each family farm a recognized the Wisconsin State Fair Century Farm Program. The partnership was formed when both families were looking to expand from their standard tie-stall barn facilities to a milking parlor and freestall barn facility. The original parlor was a double 8 stall parallel parlor built in half of the existing tie-stall barn. A separate free stall barn was built with a capacity of 350 cows. In 2001, the second free-stall barn was built, and a third added in 2009. Generations of both families have been farming in Phillips, Wisconsin for 107 years. In 2014 UPD expanded ownership to the son and son-in-law of Jon, Jeremy Pesko and Bill Harper. Ed Jasurda handles herd health and genetics, Jon Pesko manages employees, crop production and business planning and management, Jeremy Pesko is the crop and maintenance manager, and Bill Harper manages the milk hauling, calf-raising and is the technical supervisor. In 2009 UPD built a 12-month manure storage system for 1000 cows as well as a closed-loop sand recovery system and a 150’ x 350’ feed pad for corn silage. Despite the poor economy in 2010, UPD forged ahead with plans to take the business to the next level of technology in dairying while increasing cow comfort and employee workplace comfort, and built a 60-stall rotary parlor, herdsperson office, main office area with a large conference room and viewing area, employee break-room/showers/changing areas and a 1200 stall cross-ventilated barn. In 2015 a cross-ventilated Special-Needs Barn was built for pre- and post-fresh cows, maternity, and hospital cows. In 2017 an automated calf barn was built as well as an addition on the shop area. There are two additional farms owned by UPD each which houses heifers; one within 5 miles of the main dairy, and the other 16 miles away.
Each year UPD produces over 7 million gallons of milk. The milk is transported to a Foremost processing plant in Milan, WI, about 60 miles south of Phillips in their own tankers. UPD’s rolling herd average is 29218 (fat lbs.: 1146, fat%: 3.9; protein lbs.: 942, protein %: 3.2; SCC 140).
UPD is cropping approximately 5000 acres of land; nearly 1000 acres are owned by UPD with the remainder rented from neighbors. Strong business relationships in and outside of the community help UPD carry on the family’s farming tradition.
UPD employs 32 full-time workers, 13 part-time workers, 18 students, and 12 seasonal crop haulers. Employee benefits include Health Insurance, IRA and vacation. There are 3 milking shifts starting at 6 am, 2 pm and 10 pm.
Herd and Genetics:
UPD has 4000 total animals and is currently milking 2200. The herd is predominately Holsteins; 70% are registered or identified. Embryo flushing occurs bi-weekly. Embryos have been exported to Iran, Israel, Japan, Germany and Czechoslovakia. For the last 10 years, UPD has participated in a genetic improvement program through Genex, a bovine genetic corporation based in Shawano. UPD was chosen by Genex because of the high genetic level of the herd which allowed Genex to get accurate data on elite animals that they want to work with. UPD currently houses approximately 50 of the top 10,000 CTPI cows in the US.
Jon Pesko served on the Board of Directors for Foremost farms for over 20 years and is president of the local school board. Bill Harper is currently on that Board serving a second term representing large dairy operations and the vice president of a local snowmobile club. Ed Jasurda served on the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board for many years and is a member of his church’s finance council. Jeremy Pesko is a local hockey coach.
United Pride Dairy has hosted several Price County Dairy Breakfasts, sponsored local fundraisers, and hosts 4th grade students every May to aid their studies of Wisconsin’s natural resources and economy. To benefit the Phillips Food Pantry, a “Dancing with the Cows” fundraiser was held on the farm several times. Jon’s daughter, Kristen has also organized several “Books In The Barn” events to give children the opportunity to visit the farm and read in an unusual and fun venue.
United Pride hosts a large tour of foreign visitors every October for Genex Cooperative, in conjunction with their visit to the World Dairy Expo in Madison, WI. Other foreign visitors include Kazakhstan, Germany, Italy, Iran, Russia, and China.