Donald Van Hofwegen
Donald and Ingrid Van Hofwegen milk 2,700 Holsteins in central Arizona.
The summers in Arizona can be extremely brutal. This year, we had one of the hottest summers on record.
On our dairy, we have Saudi-style shades with Korral Kool fans. They do a fantastic job of keeping the cows cool. This, however, is just the beginning.
With the amount of water being used for cooling, it is very important that we keep the beds dry and fluffed. We scrape under the shades once a day, in the morning after each corral goes to the barn.
Once the cows are out, the tractor operator goes in, pulls the wet manure out from under the shades and fans and spreads it in the corral. He then pulls dry manure from outside the shade and puts a 3" to 6" bed back under the shade. Then the operator grabs another tractor that has a harrow hooked to it and aerates the wet manure.
With the warm days, this manure will be dry for the next day to be dragged back under the shades for bedding. In the past, we used a disk to fluff the beds. But we were getting clumps of moist manure and seeing an increase of mastitis. We decided to use just the harrow, and we have eliminated those flare-ups.
This has been a dry summer, so corral maintenance has gone very smoothly. When we have periods of a lot of rain, we have no dry manure to pull under the shades, so we always have a large pile of dry separator manure that we will haul in the corral and spread out for the cows to lie on.
Cow comfort is a must on our dairy. Overcrowding is very easy to do, and we are guilty of it. That being the case, however, we work very hard to keep our cows cool and provide a soft, dry place for them to lie down.
Keeping a close eye on feet is top priority. We walk behind every cow every day after they come out of the barn and look for red flags. Any cow that looks a little off is pulled and brought to the hospital to be checked out. One of the things we look for is lame cows. We have a full-time hoof trimmer on staff who takes care of these problem cows. We also have rubber mats that run in all the alleys, including the manger alleys. I believe this is a huge reason why we don’t have many foot problems.
Another thing we do for cow comfort is live in Arizona. For about eight months out of the year, our weather is awesome. The cows are cool and comfortable from October to May. Then we get ready for the power bill!
|Van Hofwegens' September Prices
|Milk (3.5% bf, 3.5% prt)
$21.00/cwt. over quota
|Dry cow hay