Special Report

The evolution of Crave Brothers Dairy Farm

Thomas, Charles, George, and Mark CraveWisconsin Farm Technology Days this Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday on the Crave Brothers Dairy Farm at Waterloo, Wisconsin. This is one of the most well-known dairy farms in the state and Debbie Crave says they are happy to host the show this year. “We’re proud to be a dairy farm, four brothers and their families; we milk about a thousand cows and run about 1,700 acres.”

The operation started with George and Charles renting a farm at Mount Horeb but their dream of owning their operation brought them to the location outside Waterloo. Brothers Tom and Mark eventually joined the family partnership. “Since 1978 we’ve been growing and adding wives and children. It’s been a good experience. A lot of hard work, of compromise and team building,” says Debbie.

George CraveIn 2002 the brothers decided to add value to their operation by building their own cheese factory on the farm. George became a licensed cheesemaker and today he and Debbie run the cheese plant. Debbie’s experience in international marketing with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection has certainly helped grow that part of the business. She says you have to have a good product and then really get out there and tell your story. Originally the cheese was made-to-order for a few retailers in Madison and Milwaukee. Today Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese is sold from coast-to-coast.

One of the big lessons Debbie says they learned is that you cannot drive the tractor, milk the cows and then go stir the cheese. You have to specialize, so in effect, George left the farm to run the cheese factory.

As for the future of the operation, Debbie says they are getting things ready for the next generation of Craves to come into the business.

AUDIO: Debbie Crave talks about the growth of the farm 5:55

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