As you get familiar with the blog I also wanted to introduce you to our farm. I thought a quick tour of our farm was in order! And don’t worry this tour doesn’t require boots!
I think we will start first with our calves since that is where each animals starts on our farm after being born.
Our heifer calves from newborn to about 10 weeks of age are each housed in individual calf hutches which keep them safe and warm, and provides them shelter during the hot summer heat, rain and cold snowy winters. In each hutch we provide them with two buckets which hold fresh water and grain which is filled each day. The calves are also fed milk twice each day until they reach 8 weeks in age and are transitioned to water, grain and hay from that point on. We usually have between 18 to 24 calves on milk at any given time.
At roughly 10 weeks, we move our heifer calves into one of two bedded pack (barns with plenty of space for the calves. They remain in these barns until they are about 10 months of age. From here they are are moved into our breeding heifer pen and are bred artificial insemination around 12 months old. Once our heifers are confirmed pregnant they go out to pasture during the spring, summer and fall, and during cold winter months we house them with our dry cows.
Our milking cows are housed in a coverall, freestall barn that holds over 160 cows. The freestall barn provides our cows with a clean, dry, comfortable place to rest and we also provide them with food twice a day and they have a constant supply of fresh water. The cows are “free” to roam around the barn, lie down to rest or leave the barn to get food or water and are not restrained in any manner other than the gates around the entire perimeter of the barn and feed bunk.
Our dry cows (cows who are no longer milking and are expecting a calf within 8 weeks or less) are housed in an open bedded pack barn. These animals are watched carefully by ourselves and our employees so we know when a cow is ready to calve and we attend to the calf and cow immediately after birth. And the process starts all over again with the calf being moved into a calf hutch.
The cows are milked twice a day in our double-10 herringbone parlor. No, we don’t milk our 200 ladies by hand! The milk is hauled to the processing plant via a milk truck so you can enjoy the product!
Besides milking twice a day we also mix the cows fed via our large mixer and feed the cows a TMR twice per day. TMR stands for Total Mixed Ration and is our way of giving the cows a complete balanced ration without the veggies or dairy products! We work with our nutritionist to formulate our ration which is unique for our own farm. Our TMR includes haylage, corn silage, high moisture corn, soybean, cottonseed and a protein mixture.
And besides the cows we have over 500 acres of land that we care for. We work up our land in the spring and plant all of the corn ourselves, but when it comes to harvest we have some help in the form of custom harvesters to process the corn into corn silage with a chopper and a combine to harvest the corn for high moisture corn that we store in a silo. We also raise alfalfa that we mow and rake in the summer months usually 4 to 5 times and then our custom harvester brings his chopper to chop the alfalfa.
Throughout the day we also have to scrape the manure in the barns, clean the water tanks, fix equipment and make sure everything is running right! We also talk to a lot of people – our veterinarian, nutritionist, hoof trimmer, artificial insemination technician, semen salesman, milk haulers, supply companies, custom harvesters, accountant, and neighboring farmers. Somewhere during the day I also cook so we can all eat food and try to find time to enjoy our daughter! We are busy folks but we wouldn’t trade it for anything!
I hope to add more photos to show all of our facilities soon! I promise I will!