Field Trip 1
For my first field trip, I took a tour of a local dairy farm back in my hometown on October 28, 2012. The dairy operation is family owned and is milking about 700 dairy cows. I have known the family that owns this dairy all of my life and I have a lot of respect for them. My family is currently renting out 100 acres of our land to this family. The rented land gets planted in corn, soybeans or alfalfa. Because of our family relations, we have not had a problem renting to this dairy operation.
A dairy operation this size is relatively large compared to other operations in the area. The other operations in the area are also family owned but with older generations retiring and fewer people from the younger generation returning, it will be interesting to see the dynamics of the farming systems in the years to come. These farms might stay in the family or they could get sold to other local farmers in the area.
I was very impressed with the dairy operation. When a family is responsible for milking many cows and renting vast quantities of land, there is a lot of planning and organization that needs to be considered. This family has worked out a great system for all aspects of thier farming system. Every morning around 4:30a.m, the process of milking begins which lasts for a few hours. Milking is done twice a day for the health and safety of the cows. Milking the cows twice a day instead of once a day reduces the risk for udder infection. At 5:00 a.m., Nolan and Shane will get skid steers warmed up and begin the routine feeding process. With new technological and machinery improvements, two people can feed a herd of 700 cows in less than three hours. Usually feeding is only done once a day but if there are extremely hot days during the summer, twice a day feedings are required. Twice a day feedings are needed because the cows do not eat as much and the feed will rot before it gets eating.
To harvest the types of feed, the family has purchased several pieces of machinery. This equipment ranges from dump trucks to haul the feed to the Claus self-propelled chopper. When it comes time to harvest haylage or corn silage the family employs the help of other local residents to drive trucks and tractors to get the operation done with as much ease as possible. These harvesting operation last a couple of days and occur throughout the growing season.
Overall, I am very impressed with the dairy operation. I think the operation has a great system and is a benefit to the town of Hale. They have been around for several years and I hope to see them around for several more.