Less Stress, Better Milk

April 6, 2011 12:23 AM
 

DonaldVanHofwegenDonald Van Hofwegen
 

Stanfield, Ariz.
Donald and Ingrid Van Hofwegen milk 2,700 Holsteins in central Arizona.

 

 


Milk quality is a foremost necessity on our dairy. I have always tried to maintain a high standard in quality since we have been in business.

Now, that being said, this has not always been the case. When my wife and I started out, we were on smaller dairies and we tried to maximize the corrals. Doing this did not leave enough square footage per cow to allow for a comfortable environment.

Cow comfort has been a primary focus since we moved to our new, larger facility. We are able to do many things to provide a comfortable environment that we were not able to do when we were on our old facilities.

One of these is having plenty of space in our corrals for cows to lie when they are not milking. Also, the shades are large enough and cooling is even, so the cows do not bunch up and create additional moisture. No matter what size facility you have, if you don’t overcrowd, you will see fewer milk quality and mastitis problems.

I do have to say I am guilty now of increasing cow numbers. I guess I maintain a belief in the old saying, "When milk prices are high, add more cows. When milk prices are low, add more cows."
Another area is barn flow. An easy flowing barn puts less stress on our animals. It allows for better milkout and less stress on the employees so they will do a better job and not cut corners.

Before we moved, I was always battling somatic cell counts. We were running 300,000 to 400,000 cells/ml. No matter what I did, I could not get it down consistently. We had many milker schools, video cameras in the barn, different teat dips, and beefing large groups of high SCC cows after test day, but it continued to be a nagging problem.

Since we have been able to provide a more comfortable environment, SCC has not been a problem. Our SCC runs between 155,000 and 180,000 cells/ml, and our mastitis is very manageable. Good, clean, dry, spacious corrals are what have done the trick for our dairy.

Udder care on our dairy is pretty simple. We try to maintain a simple regimen of dip, strip and wipe. Sometimes this is not followed, but I believe our dry environment allows for some gray area.

Genetics is another way I am really trying to improve our udders. With this increase in milk prices, it is hard to get rid of some of those poor-udder cows still giving a lot of milk.
 

Van Hofwegens' February Prices  
Milk (3.5% bf, 3.0% prt) $18.38/cwt. quota
$17.49 over quota
Cull cows $68/cwt.
Springing heifers $1,500/head
Alfalfa (clippings) $210/ton
Corn $290/ton
Cottonseed $285/ton

 

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