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Barns & Equipment

Whether using a tiestall, freestall, dry lot or pasture, here are some tips for cow comfort and maintaining farm facilities and equipment.

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This article was #3 in PDmag's Top 5 most-well read New Technology articles in 2011.

Summary: Cows at Grand View Dairy and D. Kulper Dairy in Arizona were some of the first to experience the FlipFan Dairy Cooling System. The design of the system allows the 36-inch fans to rotate 180 degrees to point outside of a shade structure. It also features control options that allow producers to adjust for time, temperature, humidity, milking and feeding times and, new to the industry, wind speed and direction.

Because this article was so popular, we asked Schaefer Ventilation Equipment President and CEO Neil Crocker some follow-up questions:

Q: What type of interest have you received? How do you quantify that interest?
A: We have seen significant interest from dairymen and academics. In 2011, we installed a total of eight FlipFan dairy cooling systems in Texas, Arizona, California and Mexico.

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This year’s harvest season has now come to an end, which means it’s time to start the groundwork for next year’s crop season. Have you started winterizing your equipment?

Now is a great time to start planning for the next year. Start performing any repairs that may be needed on any of your machinery before you store it.

I always like to use my senses whenever I am operating equipment. I use visual indicators to let me know if anything is wrong or needs work. I also try to keep a note pad in case I need to make a note which helps keep track of repairs or maintenance procedures that should be performed on equipment.

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In early October, construction was completed on a solar energy system at Whitesides Dairy near Rupert, Idaho. This is the first dairy operation to install a solar energy system of this size in the state of Idaho.

Carl Simpson, CFO for Silk Road Solar and Silk Road Environmental, based out of Kennewick, Washington, helped coordinate, design and install the system. Simpson also helped organize and write grant applications that helped to make this project feasible.

Simpson initially met Steve and Brandon Whitesides, owners of Whitesides Dairy, on a trip to look at their dairy’s digesters, which were shut down. He had thought of purchasing and restarting them in the future. On a following trip, Simpson mentioned Silk Road’s solar energy systems.

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A few years back, I was working on a big project. I needed to plant 120 acres of triticale for a dairyman. I got everything greased, lubed and fueled up the night before and thought I was all ready to go. The next morning I was up early and out in the field working. I noticed that I wasn’t sitting square in the seat, but I thought it was just me.

When I finally decided to get off and look at it, the right outside tire was flat and the sidewall was eaten up because I had driven on it for so long. It was an older tire and in a newer application it probably wouldn’t have done that, but this one was old and brittle and it really flexed it. In the end, I found out that something in the field had punctured the tire. This is an example of how easily things can go awry in the field, regardless of the preparation.

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In 2003, Northern Plains Dairy introduced the practice of mortality composting to Minnesota. As the first dairy in the state to dispose of dead cows via composting, it has refined and replicated the process to create the correct conditions for complete disposal of the animal.

“It was done for biosecurity reasons,” says James Ailsby, operations manager at New Sweden Dairy. “They didn’t want the trucks carrying other dead animals coming onto the dairies.”

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When planning a dairy cattle freestall housing system, focus on the cow and the freestall where you expect her to spend half her work day, resting and making milk. The size of the resting and lunge areas of the stall and the type and condition of the resting surface are critical. The quality (temperature, moisture, dust) and quantity (flow rate and velocity) of the air surrounding the cow must also be considered in the design, construction and maintenance of the freestall component of the overall dairy system.

The cow must be able to freely access other housing areas throughout her work day. This includes the alleys that service the freestalls, water stations and feed lines, and also allow the cow to travel to and from the milking parlor and special-needs areas.

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