Hello From Vermont

January 15, 2009 06:00 PM

*Extend comments highlighted in blue.

Mark Rodgers
West Glover, Vt.
Andersonville Dairy LLP is located in Glover, Vt., right near the 45th parallel, 30 miles east of New Hampshire, 30 miles south of the Canadian border at an elevation of 1,700 ft. My wife, Dawn, and I have four children: Megan, 20; Tyler, 19 (both attend the University of Vermont); Jessica, 15; and Alexis, 10.

We're primarily a registered Holstein dairy. I have worked with Ted Young since 1993 and as a partner since 1996. Since 1993, the herd has grown from 65 milk cows to nearly 200 and production has increased 25% to a 25,711-lb. RHA, 4.0% 1028 F, 3.2% 805 P DHIR. Milk is shipped to Agri-Mark. Last month, 18 milk samples for SCC averaged 84,000. We have one full-time and two part-time employees.

I grew up in Glover, Vt., on a registered Jersey farm. I attended the University of Vermont, graduating in 1985 with a degree in dairy food technology. After graduation, I worked for the American Jersey Cattle Club as a classifier and area representative in California, Alabama, New Mexico, Nevada and Texas, living in Hilmar, Calif. Later, I moved to Sulphur Springs, Texas, to manage a Jersey dairy, then worked for Purina Mills as a dairy feed specialist. I moved back to Vermont in 1989 and got back into the dairy business.

In 1993, I completed a journey of over 12 years, 300,000 miles, and 40 states to end up at Andersonville Farm, one mile from where I grew up.

The farm has 150 acres hay land, and another 300 acres of hay land are rented. Due to our short growing season, high elevation and heavy, wet soil, we do not grow corn or alfalfa. We put up hay crop silage, growing mostly orchard grass, timothy and some clover. This year, we did contract 1,200 tons of corn silage from a grower 35 miles away and that seems to be working well.

We do most of our own field work with some custom manure hauling and the corn chopping. We leased a Krome Big MII for 2008 to improve efficiency of mowing 45 fields, over 400 acres, all of it three times and some four times.

The milking herd is housed in two groups in a 190-stall, six-row freestall that was built in 2002. Stalls have foam rubber mattresses with rubber covers and kiln-dried sawdust. We have hydraulic alley scrapers that clean eight times daily. All animals over six months are fed TMR. Feed is mixed in a Kanan wagon, fed twice daily and pushed up as needed, 365 days a year.

In December 2008, we moved into a new DeLaval, double-8 parallel, rapid-exit parlor with identification and activity, after milking 170 head in a 1970 vintage, double-4 herringbone with weigh jars.

Dry cows are housed in the old stall freestall with sand stalls. Bred and breeding-age heifers are housed in sand-bedded stalls at a rented farm half a mile away. Calves are raised in hutches outside, without losing a calf in over three years. Weaned calves are moved in groups to a sawdust pack calf barn and heifer barn.

Rodger's November Prices  
Milk (4% bf, 3.15% prt): $17.58/cwt.
Cull cows: $88/cwt.
Springing heifers: $1,800/head
Alfalfa hay: nobody has any to sell
Cottonseed (trailer loads): $292/ton
Corn meal: $195/ton

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