I have gained many new followers, so I thought now would be a good time to introduce you to the family and show you around the farm. Perhaps you caught my farm tour on Instagram via My Day in Ag, well here is a more thorough tour! Be sure to click on the links as you read, the will connect you to more information on the topic. And don’t be afraid to ask questions! The best thing about this tour is that you won’t get any mud on your boots and you won’t stink up the joint after it is over! Lets get started.
My in-laws established the dairy in 1986, starting small and slowly progressing to our current size of 500 milking cows. The four of us recently formed a LLC which allows all of us to be partners in the business. We are family owned and operated, but also employ 7 full-time and 3 part time-employees.
Our cows are housed in a free-stall barn which consists of sand bedded stalls for each cow, plenty of feed, easy access to water and proper ventilation. The barn has large doors and tarp like curtains that can be rolled up or down, depending on the weather. The barn also includes a sprinkler system and fans to keep the cows cool in the summer. The cows are free to move about the pen as they please.
I would say our farm color is red. We have lots of red trucks and red buildings. Seriously, our farm slogan could be “We are the guys in the big, red trucks!”. Here is an outside view of the free-stall barn:
Our cows are milked three times per day in a double 8 parallel parlor. This means we can milk 16 cows at one time.
Front view of one side of the parlor
It takes about 7 hours to milk the entire herd and clean up. By the time we are done, it is time to start milking again! Check out this video of our cows entering the milking parlor:
While the cows are being milked and are away from their pen, we scrape away the manure, rake the beds of sand, clean the water tanks and provide plenty of feed. This happens three times per day; I bet you don’t clean your room that often! Here are some cows resting in their freshly raked beds. As you can see, there are already a few cow pies in the alley; it doesn’t take them long to dirty up their “room”!
On average, there are two calves born everyday on our farm. We sell all our bull calves as they can grow to be mean and dangerous.
All the female babies are vaccinated, fed colostrum, given a set of “earrings” with an identification number and moved into their own hutch. The hutch is bedded with shavings and also includes an outside area. The hutch provides shelter and proper ventilation for the calf and allows us to keep a close eye on her in these first, critical weeks of life. This will be the baby’s home for the next 7-8 weeks.
Around 7 weeks of age, the calves are weaned off of milk and moved into a group pen. Now, their diet consists of grain and water. The girls will hang out here until they are 3 months old. At 3 months, they are sent to our heifer raiser in a nearby town. There, they will be introduced to hay and other forages and simply hang out. They will be bred via artificial insemination around 14 months old and brought back to our dairy a couple of months before they are due to calve. Here you can see the girls sunbathing outside. What a rough life, huh?
We work with a custom harvester to grow and harvest corn and alfalfa on our land. The corn and alfalfa are chopped and made into silage to feed the cows. Hiring a custom harvester allows us to produce quality feed while not losing focus on the cows. It would be easy to miss a sick calf or cow if we were stuck in the field during planting or harvest time. By working with a custom harvester, we can stay in the barn and keep a close eye on all the girls!
The cows are fed TMR twice per day. TMR stands for Total Mixed Ration and is a cow version of a casserole. Every farmer’s “recipe” or ration is different, but are usually somewhat similar. The ration we serve up to our girls is formulated by our farm nutritionist and includes haylage, corn silage, dry hay, corn gluten, high moisture corn and a protein mixture.
We throw all the ingredients into our mixer and deliver the feed to the bunk.
Farm life is the best! I find my husband to be a pretty cool guy, so I feel blessed to be able to work with him all day, every day.
I get to hang out with my trusty side-kick too!
The tour wouldn’t be complete unless Judy made an appearance! She is my favorite cow on the farm and is always getting into shenanigans. She loves to people watch, stand in inconvenient places and pester my pup, Cash. She has a real personality!
This tour never really ends; as long as I continue to blog you will receive farm updates! Be sure to “like” Modern-day Farm Chick on Facebook, follow modfarmchick on Instagram and Twitter and sign up for email updates on my blog.
Thanks for following my modern-day farm life!