Comfort for All

September 23, 2010 11:46 AM

BradandMarkCrandall 125x125Brad and Mark Crandall

Battle Creek, Michigan

The Crandall brothers milk 270 cows on their fifth-generation farm.


*Extended comments are highlighted in blue.

The Crandall's August Prices

(3.4% bf, 3.0% prt) $15.51/cwt.

Cull cows

Springing heifers n/a


Soybean hull pellets

Soybean meal


Cow comfort is definitely a top priority and a seasonal transition on our dairy. Here in Michigan, we deal with all the weather extremes, from 90°F and humid to zero and snowy—and everything in between.

On our farm, comfortable cows begin with clean water fountains and top-quality feeds. Marginalizing any health stresses caused by their diet maximizes the benefit of all other comfort efforts we engage in.

All of our milking animals are housed in one barn and bedded with sand year-round. Sand bedding has worked very well for us, and we don’t plan to use anything else. We bed the stalls once a week and groom the stalls several times a week to fills in holes and limit bacterial growth.

Keeping alleys clean is also very important. We milk both groups 3X per day and scrape the alleys every time the cows are milked. Keeping the barn as clean as possible definitely improves air quality and limits flies. Cows are also treated several times a year with Ultra Boss topical pest and parasite treatment to keep them comfortable without flies bothering them.

Our barn has curtain sides, which work great for keeping it cool in the summer and holding heat in winter. It also cuts down on energy costs when we can use the wind and sun to keep cows comfortable. As we all know, any stress the cows are under has a negative impact on milk production and overall efficiency. We are always open to making changes or upgrades that will improve cow comfort. Our current year to date SCC is 70,000, which motivates us to continue solid practices and care.

One other area we think is very important is comfort for all of our young stock from calves to bred heifers. Healthy environments for younger animals are critical to their success when they enter the milking herd. Physical wear, respiratory damage and cleanliness limit the potential and longevity of those animals when they mature.

We use sawdust and straw on animals younger than eight months and keep the bedding fresh. Pens are cleaned regularly. Heifers from eight months old to calving are housed in sand-bedded stalls, which acclimates them to the same type of housing they will have when they are milking. These eight- to 12-month heifers are also on pasture from spring until fall, which gets them off the cement and helps keep overconditioning from being a concern.

We hope to have passed along some useful information and we hope everyone has a safe and plentiful harvest season. God bless!

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