East Smithfield, Pa.
Gorrell Dairy LLC is home to 670 cows and 610 heifers.
*Extended comments are highlighted in blue.
Editor’s note: Gorrell is 2011 president of the Professional Dairy Managers of Pennsylvania.
We have been using sand in deep-bedded freestalls for 11 years. It always amazes me how much the stalls are used. We have been able to keep a low cull rate and grow our herd over the years, and using sand has helped us get there.
Sand is put in every five to six days and fluffed once a day with harrow teeth on a bar with the skid steer. Manure is scraped three times a day with a skid steer during milking. Six rows of fans push air though the six-row barn. In our northern Pennsylvania climate and higher elevation, our barn stays very nice most of the year.
Most alleys have rubber belting at the headlocks as well as in the holding area and parlor. The parlor and holding area have fans to keep cows and operators comfortable.
It is our goal to provide the best environment possible, and it does show with clean, dry cows that show no hock lesions and great mobility.
We are asked often about the extra wear and tear of equipment dealing with the sand, but we believe that the cows’ health and productivity surely make it worthwhile.
Our dry cows used to be on sand, but we didn’t fluff those stalls so they always got hard. Nine years ago, we switched to mattresses with chopped hay on top. When silage harvest is over this year, the mattresses and concrete underneath will be taken out and sand will be put in their place. These cows are not comfortable, they are not using their stalls, and we are getting some cows injured. It is probably a combination of not having good footing and the stalls needing to be larger, which will happen also.
We do let the dry cows out into a pasture lot year-round, weather permitting. It is great to see them resting on the grass and, during the winter, coming in with snow-cleaned feet.
We have the same thoughts as most dairy producers: You take care of the cow and she will take care of you.
Gorrell's September Prices
|Milk (3.2% bf, 3.1% prt)
|Alfalfa hay (milk cow)