Shannon Kleiboeker continues her father’s passion for quality dairy females. Contributed Photo.
Contributed Photo

Shannon Kleiboeker continues her father’s passion for quality dairy females

WENTWORTH, MO. – Shannon Kleiboeker loves dairy cattle. 

Shannon and her siblings, Kim (Grewe) and Scott Wilson, are the children and grandchildren of dairy producers. They began working on the family’s Mi-Wil Farms when they were young. 

“My dad (Mike Wilson) grew up on my grandparents’ farm (Helen and Bob Wilson); that’s what he did his entire life,” Shannon said. “My mom (Tina) got very involved in it, so we grew up milking cows, feeding calves, cutting hay and hauling hay.”

Mike developed a love for showing, which he also passed on to his children. 

“It was a way for him to show off what he did,” Shannon said. 

The Wilsons began their dairy with registered Holsteins, adding registered Guernseys and Jerseys. 

“I was never a very big person, and since I was such a tiny person, Dad said, ‘Cute little brown cows might work well for you,’” Shannon recalled with a laugh. “When I was about 8 or 9, we bought my first Jersey; it spiraled from there.”

A couple of years later, Kim wanted Guernseys, so the breed was added to the herd. The family produced high-quality females from all three breeds, earning high “Very Good” and “Excellent” scores at appraisal and numerous titles and awards at local, regional, and national shows. 

Kim and her husband, Brandon Grewe, of Valley Gem Farm in Wisconsin, took several Mi-Wil cows and heifers to their farm. Shannon, her husband Jared, son Colton (16), and daughter Cobie (10) began focusing on heifer development. 

Shannon credits Jared and his family, who have a cow/calf operation and row crops, with the opportunity to keep her love of dairy cattle alive. 

“Jared was very hesitant at first, but he is learning,” Shannon said. “Now he is working with the feed to figure out the best thing for them. He’s really growing into it, plus the kids are really into it, so that helps, and he does it for his kids. He asks about this or that and takes pride in having a role with them.” 

Jared is also working to add forages specifically for the dairy animals.

“He likes the field work and haying,” Shannon explained. “It has become his mission to produce good hay for my dairy cattle. He planted alfalfa and said he was going to get his old square baler up and going so my heifers can get some good hay.” 

Mi-Wil Farms genetics are still making an impact in the show ring. 

At the 2023 All American Jersey Show, a heifer bred by Mike was named Best Bred and Owned. 

Shannon credits Jared and his family, who have a cow/calf operation and row crops, with the opportunity to keep her love of dairy cattle alive. Contributed Photo.
Contributed Photo

“That was a first for us,” Shannon said. “Kim also had the Grand Champion Guernsey at the World Dairy Expo. Her dam was born and raised here, so we will take a little credit for that.”

Shannon and her kids remain active in the ring. 

“There’s still that drive to push yourself to see what we can do and what we can do next. I’ve really enjoyed watching the kids get into it. It’s been fun watching them, but it’s still fun for me to put on the white pants and hit the ring and say, ‘I raised this heifer.’”

The third-generation producer admits she has a competitive streak.

“I feel like I have to always get better,” she said. “Southwest Missouri is a hidden gem because there are a lot of good breeders here. It’s fun to compete with them, and I have a lot of respect for them and their cattle.”

Showing is only a part of Shannon’s operation. 

“We want to breed for cows that will produce well, but we also like cows that are fun to work with and fun to look at,” she said. “Pretty cows make it worth it just a little more because dairying is hard work.” 

Shannon and her family currently have about 10 to 12 head in Missouri and another 30 or so in Wisconsin. Shannon continues to build on the original genetics of the herd. 

“That’s something my dad took a lot of pride in; bred and owned cattle,” Shannon said. “You can see what you can improve upon over the years and see how good you can get.” 

Shannon’s cattle are bred exclusively by AI, and she is very selective when choosing matings.

“You have to look at each animal and think, what do I want to improve on this animal, and what bull offers that? Will this bull improve feet and legs, make them wider? What will they add to this heifer, and what does this heifer need to improve on? Also, you have to look at the PTAs (predicted transmitting abilities) and see what his daughters have done so far and what can he do for me? You can try all you want, but sometimes it’s just pure luck; that was Dad’s motto. Sometimes, you have to stick your hand in the tank and hope for the best.” 

Shannon hopes to keep her herd’s lines evolving but sees room for improvement in other areas. 

“I want to learn how to take care of my animals to make them the absolute best,” Shannon said. “There are different strategies, and a lot of people do it in a lot of different ways, but I want to find what will work for us. Jared and I ask ourselves if we needed a heifer barn to keep them cooler and what we could do to improve our care for our animals. We aren’t on a dairy farm but want to provide the best care possible.”

Mike passed away in February, but Shannon and her entire family continue the lessons learned and the legacy from her family’s Neosho, Mo., dairy farm. 

“He instilled such a love of cattle, a love for farming, and a love for the land,” Shannon said of her late father. “It’s not something we can give up. It’s important because we love it and want to carry on his legacy. He worked really hard for this. It’s something we want to continue to do and honor him.”


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