Changes for Better

January 23, 2014 07:15 PM

Julie Maurer


Julie Maurer
Newton, Wis.

Family owned and operated, Soaring Eagle Dairy milks 1,100 cows and grows the majority of the herd’s feed on 1,800 acres.


The philosophy of "take care of cows and they will take care of you" is evident by many factors at Soaring Eagle Dairy. Providing comfortable, cow-friendly facilities, handling cows with calmness and great care, and assisting them through the critical transition period are the places where we can make a difference for our animals.

From a facilities standpoint, we built our first freestall barn in 1997. Beds were too narrow, were without adequate lunge space and mattresses were needed under our cows.

Since that time, we’ve added lunge space, converted our manure system to accommodate sand and removed the mattresses, providing greater cow comfort. The original freestall barn with the narrow stalls today houses our smaller-framed 2-year-olds. Mature cows are housed in the newer barn, which has wider stalls.

Over the years, we have also added a sprinkler system to work in combination with fans to help cows handle the heat and humidity we experience in Wisconsin. These changes have meant more milk in the tank, better milk quality and an overall healthier herd—all of which make our jobs are easier.

In managing cows through transition, on any given day, one of the owners is present for the fresh-cow work as well as making decisions regarding mastitis treatments and breeding decisions. Being present on a daily basis allows us to be the decision-makers. We have a better feel for things such as animal health and milk quality, rather than waiting for a report to tell us there are issues needing attention. Additionally, each time we interact with employees, we have the opportunity to coach and set the example for how animals are to be handled.

All of these steps get cows set up and prepared to be bred. We have a 70-day voluntary waiting period and use a pre-synch and Ovsynch system. All cows are put through a vet check prior to entering the breeding program to ensure they are not cystic and are ready to be bred.

Our semen company mates our herd, ensuring that we are continuing to improve the genetics of our herd. All cows are bred AI, and we do not use any bulls on the farm. We ultrasound for pregnancy, and any animal confirmed pregnant with twins is moved directly in the pre-fresh pen, allowing her to better handle what can be a higher risk transition period.

Maurer’s recent prices

$21.51 (3.59 bf, 3.11 prt)

Cull cows
$70 to $80/cwt.

Springing heifers
$1,700 head

Alfalfa hay (milk cow)


Ground corn

Soybean meal

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