Wisconsin with its luscious meadows reminds Germans of Bavaria. 150 years ago, many German farmers thought so too and settled down in this part of America.
Karl and Hermine Hausner on their dairy farm in Sauk City
The state of Wisconsin lies west of the Great Lakes region. Wisconsin is America's Dairyland. Its rolling hills and meadows often remind Germans of southern Bavarian regions.
So maybe it was only natural that German farmers who arrived in Wisconsin some 150 years ago felt right at home in this part of the US.
They decided to stay here and farm the land. One thing they brought with them from Germany were their black-and-white Holstein cows, which still make the livelihood of many Wisconsin farms today.
Today, one of largest farms in the state lies between the towns of Sauk City and Plain. It belongs to Karl and Hermine Hausner, who immigrated to the US in the 1950s. Karl Hausner says that in the US, the German Holstein cows were bred to give more milk and meat. One side-effect of this was that the larger cows no longer fit into the old stables.
Karl Hausner says on his farm he does not want such "turbo-cows" that are milked to death. The animals should have space to move about, he explains: Only happy cows give good milk. Hausner says especially the young cows need a lot of love and care: "The stable for the calves is very sunny, even in winter. The calves will stay in this special stable for roughly two to three weeks."
Karl Hausner is against giving animals hormones or genetically altered feed to increase productivity. His farm is profitable even without these modern manipulations. For him, the keys to success are automation and dividing up the work rationally among his 18 employees.
Over the years, the Hausners acquired 14 individual farms and integrated them into one big agricultural complex. Today, they own some 3,000 animals. In Germany, this would be a very large farm; in America however, what the Hausners have is considered merely average. As Karl Hausner jokingly points out, the number of cows he now owns is more than there ever were in his hometown of Schwansdorf.