Vir-Clar Farm began in 1949 when Gary's parents Clarence and Virginia Boyke acquired ownership of the farm from his grandparents. At the time the herd consisted of 12 Guernsey cows and a rented bull. In 1950 Clarence purchased his first registered Holstein calf which was the beginning of Vir-Clar. He continued to build the registered herd to 28 cows by 1974. In 1974, after finishing school at the UW-Madison Farm and Industry Short Course, Gary came home and doubled the herd size to 50 cows. Silos, bunk feeders, and a pipeline milking system were added. In 1976, Gary married Rose, and a partnership was formed between Rose and Gary and Clarence and Virginia. From 1976 to 1995 Vir-Clar was a traditional 60 cow tie stall operation and one of the elite genetic herds in the U.S. Utilizing embryo transfer extensively, Vir-Clar merchandised cattle and embryos around the world. Also in this time period, Vir-Clar put over 100 bulls in AI and participated in the first addition of the Top Ten Sale in California. In 1995, in order to stay competitive in a changing market, the herd was expanded to 300 cows, building a free stall barn and a milking parlor at the current site. In 1997 an opportunity to purchase 400 acres of land made it necessary to expand the herd to 500 cows. In 2002 a maternity/hospital barn was constructed to give the best possible care for all of our cows. In 2015 a third barn was added as well as an expansion to the parlor and holding area.
In order to be an environmentally and neighbor friendly farm, a methane digester was added to reduce odor and the phosphorus load on the land. Currently the digester is producing renewable electric power for approximately 800 homes. To economically run the digester, the barns have been expanded to house a total of 2,000 cows. Cows are milked three times a day in a double 30 Westphalia-Surge parlor, with each shift taking seven and a half hours with clean-up. There are 32 full-time employees to help make Vir-Clar run smoothly. The farm is comprised of 2,800 acres, 2,100 owned and 700 rented, used to grow corn silage, high moisture corn, alfalfa haylage, and pasture for the young stock.
Gary and Rose have four children. Katie married to Grant Grinstead, Angie married to Ryan Matthias, Tiffany married to Nick Venne, and JR married to Sam Schmidt. All of the children have played roles in the dairy operation. Katie has returned home to the farm to manage the calf raising operation and does the farm’s bookkeeping. Grant is also a part of the dairy and manages the digester and is in charge of business development for the farm. Currently JR is also part of Vir-Clar’s management team as crop manager. Gary helps make management decisions and assists with the crop work. Rose takes care of all the farms lawns and landscaping. The Boykes are involved in many activities in the community.
Vir-Clar Farm emphasizes producing a high quality product, a good way of life for their family and a good working atmosphere for their employees.