A crowd of 150 dairy producers and other attendees packed the room featuring a Virtual Farm Tour of Simon Dairy Tuesday at World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis.
|Brent, Therese and Larry Simon at their Michigan dairy.
Larry Simon and his son, Brent, told the audience how they’ve weathered the bumps of transferring responsibilities to the next generation, upgrading facilities, adding cows, converting to new equipment, meeting environmental regulations and being a good neighbor to the high school located right across the street.
In the process, they’ve built a successful 705-cow dairy near Westphalia, Mich., with a focus on cow comfort, herd health and quality forages. Milking three times a day, the dairy has achieved a 27,500 lb. rolling herd average with no rBST and an average somatic cell count of 97,000. In July, the dairy’s SCC fell to 76,000.
“We don’t know all the answers,” Larry Simon said. “We surround ourselves with fantastic management people, and we try not to make the same mistake twice.”
The Simons made the generational transition work by blending experience, education and individual strengths. Larry and his wife, Therese, have made Brent the dairy’s herd manager, and his responsibilities continue to grow. The Simons also plan to transfer responsibility to son, Scott, a junior at Michigan State University.
“I’m luckier than a lot of people because my dad lets me make mistakes,” Brent said.
The Simons grow corn, soybeans, alfalfa and wheat on 1,845 acres. “Harvesting much of our own high-quality forages keeps our feed cost purchases at lower levels,” Larry said.
They follow an aggressive cutting schedule that is monitored closely with the dairy’s nutritionist. They cut on a 24-26 day interval to achieve the highest quality forages.
The Simon Dairy uses a vertical TMR mixer. All cows are fed a TMR ration, and all milk groups are fed a different diet based on lactation and days in milk. Forage is 55-60% of the ration, depending on the group.
The dairy not only hosts tours for students and the community, but assists the school district with plowing snow and other maintenance projects as needed. Both Larry and Simon are involved in activities of their Catholic Church parish.
Quality Liquid Feeds, Inc. sponsored the Simon Dairy Virtual Farm Tour.