PD Poll Question
|Features - Producers|
|Monday, 20 July 2009 03:47|
The Faria Dairy located in the Texas Panhandle started this year milking its 7,100 cows with the largest rotary in North America.
The 106-cow capacity rotary, installed by DeLaval, slowly turns while cows stand on the carousel about 8 minutes and 45 seconds for milking. Approximately 700 cows can be milked per hour, and each cow is milked three times per day.
Kreg Welch of Holstein Supply in Dumas, Texas, says DeLaval shipped all the equipment and the rotary was assembled at the building site. It is made of stainless steel, custom-sized parts. It took about 57 days to assemble. Quality Dairy Construction built the Faria facility, which houses the rotary. They began moving dirt for the dairy complex on Aug. 6, 2008, and actual milking began on Jan. 28.
The smallest rotary marketed by DeLaval milks 30 cows while the 106-cow unit operated at the Faria Dairy complex is the largest in use in North America at the present time.
Each cow is fitted with an identification transponder on its leg. This device produces a meter reading of milk weights at each milking during the day. The transponder also contains a heat detector, which indicates when the cow is ready for breeding.
The dairy emphasizes cleanliness, and each cow is tail-docked to make it easier to attach the milking units and to assist in keeping the transponders clean.
All of the equipment is automated, and the milk is immediately cooled and loaded in tanker trucks for shipment to the Hilmar Cheese Plant located about 45 miles from the dairy in Dalhart, Texas. Faria Dairy ships approximately 300,000 pounds of milk to Hilmar each day.
The Faria family patriarch, Sebastian Faria, and his wife, Maria, live in Arizona. Nelson Faria and his brothers, Jason and Mark, are responsible for the day-to-day operation of the dairy.
When asked why they selected the Texas Panhandle to build their new dairy, they gave four reasons: one – a very friendly community; two – large land acreages available for growing feed for an expanding dairy operation; three – the Hilmar Cheese Factory, an accessible and ready processor for the milk produced by the dairy; and four – plentiful water for the dairy complex and for watering crops.
The Faria family owns three dairies in the Panhandle area and has plans for expanding the 7,100-cow dairy.
The dairy complex contains the rotary milking carousel, the sorting and breeding barn and a 580 feet by 997 feet feeding and stall barn for the cows.
The Faria brothers pay close attention to cow comfort. The cows live in cross-ventilated barns. In the warmer months, a high-pressure water mist is blown in to keep the cows cool. The cows are fed a total mixed ration (TMR) and are supplied with individual compost-bedded stalls for resting between each milking. PD
Methvin is a freelance writer in Dalhart, Texas.