A separate pen for early lactation, second lactation and older cows is helping push Meadow Brook Farms’ herd average toward 33,000 lb./cow.
“We were over 33,000 lb./cow for a few months this spring. But then the summer doldrums hits, and we dropped back below 98 lb./cow/day,” says Pete Kappleman. Kappleman and his family presented a Virtual Farm Tour of the facility at World Dairy Expo last week. The family milks 460 cows near Manitowoc, Wis., and farms 1,170 acres.
A year and a half ago, Kappleman extended the roof line of his freestall barn to create the early-lactation pen. The single-row pen features 45 freestalls, each 4’ wide and 9’ long. There is also 48” of bunk space per cow, and stocking density is kept low to reduce competition. Cows are milked four times daily while in the pen.
Cows go into the pen a week after calving and stay there for six. Results have been rewarding, with peak milk jumping six to seven pounds. That has resulted in lactation totals jumping almost 3,000 lb./cow, Kappleman.
The barn is also well ventilated. In fact, last summer, a gate was inadvertently left open. The cows initially wandered out, but after a time, they all voluntarily returned to the pen and their cushy stalls.
Meadow Brooks’ 430 Holsteins average 32,863 lb. of milk, 3.6% butterfat and 3.2% protein. The 30 or so Brown Swiss average 24,982 lb. of milk, 4.2% butterfat and 3.6% protein.