Janine Pirtle of Billings, Missouri. Contributed Photo.
Contributed Photo

Hometown: Billings, Mo. 

Family: Husband Waylon; parents John and Jane Staiger; a sister and two brothers

In Town: Since graduating from Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State University), Janine Pirtle has worked various “town jobs,” including 10 years at MFA in Springfield, Mo., and 13 years at PFI. She has also worked in public relations and customer service. 

In the Country: Janine is a lifelong dairy producer, and her family has been breeding and raising registered Holsteins for generations. 

Janine’s grandparents, Albert and Emma Staiger, started the Maple-Pass herd in the early 1940s. Today, Janine focuses on the cow side of the family operation. 

“We have never been a very big herd,” she said. “Why milk 100 cows at 50 pounds per cow when you can milk 20 to 40 and get 80 pounds per cow? It’s more efficient, with fewer feed bills, fewer vet bills and less manure.”

Working with the cows is very rewarding for Janine, but it is also very laborious. 

“You just get in there and take care of every cow,” she said. “When you do that, you can see progress over the years. I can see the progress the herd has made over the years.

“I like the calmness of the cows. We milk in a slat-six stanchion barn, so each cow has to be calm, and you have to talk to them, or they aren’t paying any attention to you; they are just eating their grain. I like working with good cows.” 

Janine owns several cows and heifers in the family’s herd, which is now primarily bred via AI after the recent sale of the herd bull. 

“We raise all of our replacement heifers,” she said. “If we have a cow that’s hard to breed, we will breed her to a beef bull and keep those heifers until they are getting ready to have their own calves; then sell them to some neighbors. They make very good cows.”

Janine is a director at large for the Missouri Holstein Association, and she tries to stay active in the dairy industry. She hopes there will be a resurgence in the Missouri dairy industry one day, no matter how big or small the operation. 

“I’d like to see all of these old barns milking at least one or two cows,” she said. 


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