Tullando Farm, a 550-cow herd of registered Holsteins in the Connecticut River Valley, is heading toward a robotic milking future.
Our goal is to ship milk under 100,000 SCC to receive the highest quality premium we can. We were able to achieve this goal for half of 2013 by making our 3X milkings as consistent as possible.
It all starts with a good team of people willing to follow the procedures. To get the cows to the parlor as clean as possible, they are bedded with kiln-dried shavings on mattresses, which are swept three times a day. Our alley scrapers run continuously, and udders are singed as needed. Cows’ teats are sprayed with ½% iodine solution and wiped clean with dry cloth towels. They are post-dipped with the same solution.
All cows are individually tested for SCC once a month through Dairy Herd Improvement Association. Any abnormally high cows are held out of the bulk tank until the problem is resolved. They are given oxytocin, checked with California Mastitis Test and hand-stripped to make sure they are milked out cleanly.
Parlor maintenance is also very important. We change inflations monthly and check for proper function and operation of the milking equipment.
All cows are dry-cow treated and a teat sealant dip applied. They are given a first shot of J5 and are then checked closely for the first days after dry-off.
During the warm weather, heat, humidity and flies create more challenges. Our barns have high sidewall openings to promote natural air flow. Rows of fans have been added to get maximum air movement. In the newest barn, fans are thermostatically controlled for more efficiency. This air movement helps with fly control, but commercial pest control services eliminate a large portion of the fly problems. This has made for a better parlor environment, cleaner cows and better milkout.
With robots in the future, we will have to overcome new challenges. Our research is showing robots can improve overall quality if maintenance and upkeep are high priorities.
To make all these practices work in producing high-quality milk, having dedicated employees and a team of great consultants is the key.
Tullar’s recent prices
$23.66 (3.95 bf, 3.06 prt)
$1,600 to $2,000/head