What Makes us the Dairy State?
Wisconsin continues to be one of largest producers of dairy products in the U.S., including the largest production of cheese in the country and one of the largest cheese-producing regions in the entire world.
The state has a proud heritage of dairy farmers and cheesemakers that goes back beyond a century, with farms beginning to raise cows and produce cheese as early as the 1840s. We love our dairy to this day, and cheesemaking has evolved into an art form that has won Wisconsin national and international praise for their dedication to the craft.
Want to learn about our famous cows from Wisconsin? Ever wanted to take a tour of a real dairy farm, or milk a cow yourself? Read on!
A-List Cows from Wisconsin
“Famous cows” isn’t an expression you hear every day, but where else besides the dairy state? Over the years of our colorful dairy history, Wisconsin has become home to some exceptional bovines of national fame.
Back in the early 1900s, President William Howard Taft received a bona-fide Wisconsin dairy cow as a gift from a Wisconsin senator. Pauline Wayne, a Holstein shipped from Kenosha, became a media sensation, making a name for herself and inspiring a fan following all over the country. The last cow to ever graze on the White House lawn, it was her job to supply dairy for the first family—Taft drank her milk every morning!
Fast forward to modern days, and cows from Wisconsin are still making a name for themselves. In early 2016, a Wisconsin cow broke the standing record for most milk production in a year by a single cow! “Buckeye GiGi” from Brooklyn broke the previous record, which had belonged to another Wisconsin Holstein, by producing 74,650 pounds of milk in one year. To put that into perspective, the average Holstein only yields around 25,000 pounds!
Not your usual Wisconsin dairy cow, Chatty Belle from Neillsville still stands out as one of the greatest cows in Wisconsin—she is 16 feet tall! Made of fiberglass and revered as the “World’s Largest Talking Cow”, this former World Fair attraction has earned lasting fame as an adorable roadside stop representing the dairy state!
Milking the Farm Experience
Don’t miss out on a chance to have an authentic Wisconsin farm experience—you can watch dedicated farmers in action and see some pretty cute cows, too! Farms all over the state offer tours and hands-on learning opportunities for both families and larger groups.
For an animal-filled encounter, visit Mulberry Lane Farm in Sherwood or Green Meadows Farm in East Troy. Not only can you learn fun cow facts and take a turn milking, but you'll get the full Wisconsin farm experience—these farms also have pigs, chickens, ponies, goats, sheep, kittens and more!
If you want to see an operating dairy, check out Hinchley’s Dairy Farm in Cambridge, where they have almost 300 dairy cows. As part of their exciting tours you can milk a cow, visit their young calves, see how milk is stored and shipped, and learn all about dairy production.
And for a look at the future of dairy farming, take a tour at Knigge Farms in Omro, where “the cows milk themselves.” This real-deal dairy farm is one of the first in Wisconsin to use automated cow milkers and calf feeders.
Maybe you prefer tasting over touring? Try our Wisconsin cheese intineraries!