Dairy Talk: Imagine. Innovate. Achieve.

September 9, 2014 08:50 PM
 
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If you stand still, you’ll fall behind—Albert Einstein never said this, but in business this law of inertia is a constant you can bet on.

The U.S. dairy industry has become a global player, and figuring out your place on this new playing field is critical to your farm’s prosperity, even survival.

Hopefully, we can help you do that. With this issue, Dairy Today launches a fresh perspective in design and editorial mission. That reinvigorated mission is driven by three words: Imagine. Innovate. Achieve. 

It all starts with the imagination. Once you envision the problem or bottleneck, you can innovate to move forward to achieve your goal. This issue is full of examples. 

Poised for Growth. Despite record milk prices this past winter and spring, U.S. milk production grew just 1.3% through the first half of 2014. Yes, cow numbers are up 37,000 head from a year ago, but that’s only a 0.4% gain and represents less than one additional cow per licensed dairy herd.  

We began to wonder if U.S. dairy expansion was on hold, due to poor quality feed, drought in the West, labor shortages and increasing regulation. So we conducted an online survey in August to get a sense of producers’ expansion intentions.

It appears stagnation is the furthest thing from dairy farmers’ minds, particularly in larger herds. Nearly 40% of herds with 200 or more cows plan some kind of expansion in the next three years. 

Don’t panic. We won’t see 40% more cows. Most expansions are limited in scope to take advantage of existing land and resources. Others are improving cow comfort. "We are adding stalls to alleviate overcrowding," says Jeff Barns, a producer from Pennsylvania. "We had 156 stalls for 210 cows, so we added 54 adjustable stalls. We hope this will improve cow comfort."
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Hurricane Proofing a Parlor. Travis Larson dairies with his family near Okeechobee, Fla., and has been hit by numerous hurricanes over the years. 

Luckily, no one has been hurt during these storms, but the high winds have done repeated damage to the milking center. Now, with a better economy, Larson is building a hurricane-proof parlor, designed to withstand 140 mph winds and an employee "safe room" encased in concrete. 

Robots on Rotaries. GEA Farm Technologies broke ground on a 72-stall rotary parlor this past month in western Wisconsin. Each stall will have a robot for disinfecting teats, stimulating let down, attaching units, milking and post dipping. This robot is designed to milk 2,000 cows 3X.

The rotary robot is the Holy Grail of large herd milking. It allows large herds to be managed at a higher level, while reducing milking labor by thousands of hours and by hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. 

All these stories have three things in common: Imagine. Innovate. Achieve.

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