FARM-friendly Freestalls

September 23, 2010 11:41 AM

Brian Medeiros125x125Brian Medeiros

Hanford, Calif.

Medeiros and his parents own and operate a
2,300-cow herd in the San Joaquin Valley.



Medeiros' August Prices

(3.64% bf, 3.21% prt)

Cull Cows

Springing heifers

Alfalfa hay
(milk cow)



Cow comfort is one of the most important jobs at our dairy. As many of us know, if cows are not comfortable and happy, we as dairy producers are not happy. Cow comfort is directly related to milk in the bulk tank, and when that suffers, the rest of the farm suffers.

To make providing cow comfort easier, we have built freestall barns for our cows, are starting to implement the National Dairy FARM Program and are looking into low-stress cattle management techniques.

Freestalls ensure our cows have the exact same bed to lie in year-round. We take care to maintain them on a set schedule—raked six days a week and filled once a week. Bedding is composed of sun-dried and composted separator manure. We fill the beds with only the driest material possible to help us maintain a very low environmental mastitis rate. Fortunately, we have been successful.

We also have rubber mats running from the milk parlor barn to the farthest headstall in the freestall barn. It is always interesting to watch the cows leave the parlor and walk in single-file fashion back to their barns.

The FARM program will help us ensure we have the best animal well-being procedures in place. In addition to our own desire to start the program, our co-op is looking to assure consumers that dairy farmers are doing the best job possible. It will also make employee training easier.

Low-stress cow management is another tool for assisting in the care and comfort of our cows. By implementing a low-stress protocol, we hope to embed in ourselves and our employees the quietest and calmest communication skills to use with our cows.

Cow comfort is one of the most important factors to operating a successful dairy herd. We believe that we have a farm that allows us to make sure that our cows are as comfortable as they can possibly be.

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