Name that cow

Milroy dairy farmer known for naming his cows

Photo by Jody Isaackson Mike Welu of rural Milroy posed for a picture with Sara Lee, one of his 42 milking Holsteins. Welu likes to pick out names for his cows. Sara Lee was named after her mother, Sara, and her own registration number upside down: 337.

MILROY — Dairy farmer Mike Welu of rural Milroy loves to name his milk cows.

“With this newest one, I can tell six generations for the last calf. I enjoy naming them,” Welu said. The Milroy farmer is observing National Dairy month. The dairy industry started the annual tradition back in 1937 when it was called National Milk Month.

Welu said he named one of his cows Isabelle, who had a calf that he named Clarabel. Then he started over with the alphabet: Anabel, all the way to Rosabelle, who is 2 weeks old.

“Believe me, there is going to be a Taco Bell,” Welu said.

Welu doesn’t shy away from science fiction names, either.

“I had a calf born on the day that Carrie Fisher died,” he said. “The calf’s sire (father) was named Jedi, so I named the calf Leia (Fisher’s “Star Wars” character’s name).”

Welu said he also likes playing with numbers for names.

“I number each calf,” he said. “My daughter’s show cow was named Sara. That cow’s number was 335. When her calf arrived, it was numbered 337. If you look at that upside down, it spells LEE. So, I named the calf Sara Lee.”

Welu’s children, Cody and Jenny, are past the age of showing cows in 4-H, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any of Welu’s black and white Holsteins or red Holsteins showing at the fairs. Welu will have eight of his cows shown in two county fairs this year by cousins or friends, he said. They will be at the Lyon County Fair and the Redwood County Fair.

Welu farms 2,200 acres of cropland with his brothers Melvin and John. Melvin buys all the bull calves that are born to Mike’s cows and feeds them out to sell. John raises hogs. Mike said that 33 acres of the 2,200 are alfalfa, 50 acres in silage and 40 in wet corn for Melvin’s stock. The rest of the acreage goes into cash crop like corn and soybeans.

“I’m currently milking 42 cows but own about twice that,” Welu said. “Some are young stock. I milk five at a time because I have five Surge milkers.”

The cows are fed seven times a day and are milked twice a day, with the milking done in tie stalls.

Welu’s parents, Floyd and Helen Welu, come over twice a day and help with the milking, he said.

They daily feed each cow 15 pounds of alfalfa, 15 pounds of grain mix purchased at the Milroy elevator and 50 pounds of silage.

Welu said that his milk is sold to AMPI (Associated Milk Producers Inc.) that makes Welu’s milk into cheese, which is sold to various retail producers.

“AMPI has many, many customers,” he said. “Like Blue Bunny, Hy-Vee and pizza places.”

Welu serves on the AMPI board of directors. “I’ve also served for 27 years on the board for the Milroy Farmers Elevator Association, and currently serve on the board for Church of St. Michael in Milroy.”

Welu also serves ice cream treats at various events.

“I have worked in the malt booth at Farmfest and the Redwood County Fair,” he said.

Those events are not in the National Dairy Month of June, he was quick to point out, but they represented dairy farmers and their products.

Welu is married to Cindy, and they live on the dairy farm about 2 miles north of Milroy.