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1308 PD: Seven North American operations to be featured

Published on 29 August 2008

Dairy producers and industry representatives from around the globe will converge on Madison, Wisconsin, when World Dairy Expo takes place September 30 – October 4. It is, after all, where the dairy industry meets.

For more than four decades, dairy producers have been building bridges and making valuable global connections during the week- long event. Last year, more than 67,000 people from 90 countries attended the show.

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Dairy operations that span North America will be featured at this year’s show. Virtual farm tours will focus on a variety of operation types and sizes, from both the U.S. and Canada, excelling in dry cow transition, utilizing compost barns, building herd value, on-farm processing, land and cattle stewards, student involvement, feed alternatives and bull care.

These free tours will be presented daily, Tuesday through Saturday, on the showgrounds in the Exhibition Hall. The featured producers and managers will present a half-hour pictorial view of their operation including general operation information and highlights of exceptional management practices. Time for questions and discussion will follow.

Tuesday, September 30, 2 p.m.

Horsens Homestead Farms,
Cecil, Wisconsin
283 milking
Transition cow management

Jeff and Connie Horsens along with their children Curtis, Ryan and Abbey, own and operate Horsens Homestead Farms, founded in 1879, in northeast Wisconsin. The herd of 283 cows is milked three times a day and maintains a rolling herd average (RHA) of 31,074 pounds of milk, 1,215 pounds of fat and 930 pounds of protein and boasts a somatic cell count of 149,000.

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At Horsens, a great lactation starts with great transition and fresh cow management. One of the many benchmarking tools they use to measure their transition cow management is an index that evaluates 14 factors to help predict the upcoming lactation’s production. When cows fail to meet their predicted milk production, the index helps to evaluate problem areas that may be the source of lower milk performance.

Wednesday, October 1, Noon

NorSwiss Dairy, Inc.,
Summit, South Dakota
1,200 milking
Compost Barns

Started in 1999 by John and Annelies Seffrood, NorSwiss Dairy Inc. is home to 1,200 cows on 900 acres. At the farm’s start, all dry cows and springing heifers were housed outside. After careful consideration, it was decided to move these animals into two straw-bedded pack barns. However, the Seffroods quickly realized they were not happy with the traditional straw bedding pack and decided to transition these barns into compost barns. The Seffroods are still using straw as a bedding source, but instead they chop the straw to about 1-inch for composting. They have had great success with the compost barns. Currently, the barns use 50 percent less bedding and produce 50 percent less solid waste. These promising results led to the fresh cows being moved from a freestall and into a compost barn in January of this year.

Wednesday, October 1, 2 p.m.

Forest Glen Jerseys/Forest Glen Oaks,
Dayton, Oregon
260/1,000 milking
Building herd value

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The story of Forest Glen Jerseys is how one family, starting with 30 unregistered Jerseys, has developed a highly profitable milk-producing business and a globally recognized brand of registered Jersey genetics. The herd, started by Stan and Dora Bansen in 1946, was one of the first to be registered with the American Jersey Cattle Association through its Genetic Recovery program. Today, under the ownership of their son Dan, Forest Glen Jerseys includes 1,300 cows in two separate herds managed by Dan’s daughter Jamie and Robert Kircher. Production in 2007, on a 305-day lactation basis, averaged 16,568 pounds of milk, 723 pounds of fat and 600 pounds of protein per cow. Forest Glen has been one of the top breeders of Jersey bulls for A.I. over the past two decades; eight Forest Glen bulls are now in active A.I. service.

Thursday, October 2, Noon

Breckenridge Farm,
Everson, Washington
64 milking
Farm processing and community marketing

Breckenridge Farm is home to Dairy Best brand products that are marketed locally in Whatcom County in Washington. Once the home to over 200 Holsteins, Elena and Mike Gonser decided to go smaller and focus their efforts on cattle comfort and providing their community with top-quality dairy products. Today, 64 Registered Holsteins obtained a recent rolling herd average of 30,352 pounds of milk, 1,310 pounds of fat and 894 pounds of protein, maintaining a somatic cell count of only 166,000.

Breckenridge Farm’s high production ranks among the top herds in the nation for production per cow with outstanding young heifers. Last year, 10 of their 2-year-olds made it into the top 15 for production in a very competitive county. The new on-farm processing facility bottles milk twice daily and additionally makes whipping cream, half & half and butter. Their products are then sold in five local grocery stores and used by 12 local retailers including coffee shops and restaurants.

Thursday, October 2, 2 p.m.

T & H Dairy II (878 cows) & Sandy Ridge Dairy (560 cows)
Fowler, Michigan
1,438 milking
Stewards of land and cattle

T & H Dairy is a three-way partnership between Steve Thelen, brother-in-law Ken Halfman and his son, Mike. With a combined number of 1,438 cows between the two operations, their keys to success include ensuring cow comfort, health and longevity. On the T & H Dairy the rolling herd average is 27,065 pounds of milk and the BAA is 104.5 percent on the 30 percent of the herd that is registered.

For them, longevity starts with careful breeding selections. Bulls with good udder conformation, sound feet and legs and strong, wide frames are used to sire herd replacements. The Thelens and Halfmans have found that these traits maximize a cow’s ability to compete in a freestall environment.

All animals under five months are fed dry hay in addition to the TMR. Dry cows receive not only TMR and dry hay but also a grain mixture to promote calf growth and keep cows eating well to avoid fresh cow problems. While this does take extra time, T&H Dairy believes it is worth the effort for healthy calves and cows.

With 24 full-time and eight part-time employees, a final important key to success rests on truly respecting the people they work with every day.

Friday, October 3, Noon

State University of New York – Cobleskill,
Cobleskill, New York
135 milking
Student involvement

The farm at State University of New York-Cobleskill, better known as SUNY-Cobleskill, is run by students. The SUNY-Cobleskill farm is more than just a research herd. Each year some 30 students work on the farm for credit in two-week rotations to learn about milking procedures, nutrition, reproductive management (including flushing) and, most importantly, record keeping.

Additionally, they assist with heifer rearing and crop production. Outside of education, the farm is also used to host numerous student activities all year around and is open to the public for tours.

Friday, October 3, 2 p.m.

Lardinois Farms LLC,
Pulaski, Wisconsin
600 milking
Feed alternatives

High corn prices have presented challenges when it comes to feeding the dairy herd. For Randy, along with his brothers Alan and Ross Lardinois, there was a need to find different feed sources without sacrificing milk production and cow health. After researching their options they decided to put the herd on a grass-based forage diet with higher digestibility. The current rotation includes tall fescue, orchard grass, timothy and festolium (a combination of rye and fescue).

Upon making the switch, the herd responded positively with good appetites, increased intake and good milk production. Currently, the rolling herd average is 23,000 pounds of milk. However, changes do present challenges. Dry weather has been a factor for yield but surprisingly, not quality. PD

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