Good for cows too

April 5, 2009 07:00 PM
 

*Extended comments are highlighted in blue.

Randy & Jennifer Gross
Elkton, S.D.
To produce quality milk, we take the approach that you begin with the end in mind. Our goals are a herd SCC of 200,000 or less and a clinical rate (cows being treated in the hospital parlor) equal to or less than 1% of the herd.

Providing a clean, comfortable environment for the cows is the first step. We bed regularly with recycled sand recovered from our sand separation lane. Stalls have any manure raked out at each milking (3X) and are groomed 2X per day. Pens and travel lanes are scraped clean 3X per day as well.

The next step is implementing and maintaining an easy-to-follow, proper milking procedure. Through trial and error and over time, we've made adjustments to our procedure to arrive at one that is fairly straightforward for employees to learn and follow and does a good job of promoting milk let down.

Getting good teat coverage with the postdip is very important, especially during our cold winter months. The extra emollients and skin conditioners we add during winter are vital to preventing chapped or cracked teats and frostbite.

We utilize our local GEA dealer for routine parlor maintenance and have the system (vacuum, pulsators, wash cycle, etc.) checked not only by the dealer but also our herd veterinarian and Land O'Lakes field rep. Having multiple sets of trained eyes check out the equipment regularly helps keep minor problems from becoming major issues.

All dry cows are treated with Spectramast LC in each quarter and also receive Orbeseal. We also utilize an "udder singer” in the fresh pen weekly and catch up the rest of the herd as needed. Also, the herd is vaccinated with J5 to help cows combat any tough gram-negative mastitis bugs.

All clinical cows are moved to our hospital parlor, treated and kept there until they are clear to go back into the tank. We culture all cows that go to the hospital parlor and send the samples to the University of Minnesota for interpretation. We are currently working with our veterinarian to implement on-farm culturing to improve turnaround time and lower costs. We also do routine bulk tank cultures to test for Mycoplasma and Staph. aureus to ensure that the herd remains free of these pathogens.

Producing high-quality milk is important not just because it's good for the cow and improves the bottom line, but also increasingly because consumers want to be certain their food is safe and wholesome—and milk is both.


Grosses' February Prices  
Milk (3.65% bf, 3.00% prt): $10.75/cwt.
Cull cows: $42/cwt.
Springing heifers: $1,380/head
Alfalfa $140/ton
Cottonseed: $274/ton
Ground corn: $133.70/ton






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