Virtual Farm Tours Showcased at World Dairy Expo

August 19, 2015 12:03 PM

The World Dairy Expo Virtual Farm Tours, held annually during Expo, give attendees an opportunity to tour a variety of different farms without ever leaving the Expo grounds. The 2015 tours will showcase the latest technology and innovative farm management practices. These free tours include a half-hour visual presentation of the operation with time for questions and discussion afterwards. Tours are presented daily, Tuesday through Saturday, in the Mendota 1 meeting room in the Exhibition Hall. All presentations will be available for viewing after the show on the Expo website.

AgSource Cooperative Services, American Jersey Cattle Association, DuPont Pioneer, Purina Animal Nutrition, LLC, Lely, Organic Valley, Quality Liquid Feeds, Inc. and Select Sires, Inc. are sponsors of the 2015 Virtual Farm Tours. Following is a short biography and description of each tour.

Tuesday, September 29 at 2 p.m.

Hosted By: Penterman Farm and Holland’s Family Cheese, LLC, Thorp, Wis.
Highlights: 370 milking/Cheesemaking
Sponsored By: AgSource Cooperative Services

Marieke and Rolf Penterman produce award winning cheese in their state-of-the-art farm, creamery and retail store. Marieke, who earned her cheesemaker’s license in 2006, uses equipment, cultures, herbs and spices imported from the Netherlands to make her famous Marieke Gouda, which was named Grand Champion at the 2013 U.S. Cheese Championship. Marieke was the first female Grand Master Cheesemaker at the Wisconsin State Fair, and her cheeses have won more than 100 national and international awards. Cows are milked three times daily in a double-12 parlor with rapid exit. The herd, which consists of half registered Holsteins and one quarter each of Brown Swiss and crossbreeds, has a rolling herd average of 27,500 lb. of milk. The Pentermans are members of the Wisconsin Agricultural Tourism Association. Marieke received the Country Today’s 2015 Speak Up for Agriculture Award and was recognized as the 2015 Wisconsin Outstanding Young Farmer.

Wednesday, September 30 at Noon

Hosted By: Prairieland Dairy, Firth, Neb.
Highlights: 1,300 milking/Sustainability
Sponsored By: DuPont Pioneer

With a mission to create an open and sustainable dairy that serves people, cows and the planet, Prairieland Dairy is a leader in sustainable agriculture. Prairieland Dairy was created in 2000 when four local farms combined. The 1,300-head Holstein herd is milked three times a day in a double-24 parlor. The milk is processed and sold in their community, schools and local groceries. Cows are housed in a 1,200-stall freestall barn with sand bedding, which is recycled through sand lanes and a screen separator. Solids are composted to create Prairieland Gold Compost, an all-natural soil amendment. The remainder is spread through center pivots onto the 780 acres of cropland. Winning the 2013 Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability Award, the dairy uses cover crops and energy audits to understand how to use energy more efficiently. The farm hosts weekly farm tours and the annual Dairy Day, which welcomes more than 5,000 people to their farm to teach about agriculture and sustainability. Transitioning to the next generation of ownership, Prairieland Dairy is focusing on details and striving to improve performance every day.  

Wednesday, September 30 at 2 p.m. 

Hosted By: Meadow Brook Dairy Farms, LLC, Manitowoc, Wis.
Highlights: 460 milking/Milk Production
Sponsored By: Purina Animal Nutrition, LLC

After taking over the family farm in 2009, Peter and Shellie Kappelman have had impressive results in milk production and quality, doubling the herd’s production. The 460-cow registered Holstein and Brown Swiss herd has a combined rolling herd average of 32,754 lb. milk, 1,197 lb.
fat and 1,034 lb. protein. They have maintained a RHA of more than 30,000 for the past nine years and received the Land O’Lakes Quality Milk award for 13 of the past 15 years. Homebred Meado-Brook Cato-ET was the 2013 J.P. Eves Trophy winner, making over 46,000 lb. of milk and 2,700 lb. combined fat and protein for a year. Meadow Brook Farms utilizes unique feed technologies to reach production goals. In 2013, they built a bio-secure, all-in, all-out calf raising facility. Pete serves as chairman of the board for Land O’Lakes Inc., a member of the Agriculture Policy Advisory Committee for the White House, the National Milk Producers Federation board and Heifer International board. 

Thursday, October 1 at Noon

Hosted By: Sunset Canyon Jerseys, Beaver, Ore.
Highlights: 300 milking/Genomic Testing
Sponsored By: American Jersey Cattle Association

Eric Silva, and his wife, Paula Wolf, own and operate Sunset Canyon Jerseys, a 300-cow registered Jersey herd that produces highly sought after genetics. Breeding focuses on butterfat and protein pounds, conception rates and udder traits. Sunset Canyon Jerseys has bred 270 bulls entering AI, including eight of the top 13 active AI bulls. Over 80% of the milking herd is genotyped, with 10 cows and heifers currently ranked in the Top 500 Jersey Performance Index for genomics and 42 heifers in the Top 1.5%. With a 305-day rolling herd average of 18,053 lb. of milk, 984 lb. of fat and 676 lb. of protein, the farm has produced 111 cows with a lifetime production of 100,000 lb. of milk. Two dozen cows are flushed annually with offspring and embryos sold in the U.S., Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico and New Zealand. 

Thursday, October 1 at 2 p.m.

Hosted By: Sunny Glade Farms, Blumenort, Manitoba
Highlights: 250 milking/Automation
Sponsored By: Lely

The Plett family has perseverance in abundance. After a fire destroyed their milking barn and newly-renovated freestall barn in 2013, Welden, his wife, Angela, and their family decided to build bigger and better. The new 52,000 sq. ft. barn with four robotic milkers was completed in July 2014, holding 216 milking cow stalls and 64 dry cow stalls with water beds. A new freestall barn became one of the first dairies in North America to use the Lely Vector automatic feeding system. A cement pad has Harvestores for haylage and high moisture corn from their 700 acres of cropland. The breeding program uses 90% genomic sires on the 250-cow registered Holstein herd.    

Friday, October 2 at Noon

Hosted By: SwissLane Dairy Farms, Alto, Mich.
Highlights: 2,000 milking/Community Involvement
Sponsored By: Quality Liquid Feeds, Inc. 

Named a Centennial Farm in 2015, the Oesch family of SwissLane Dairy Farm is transitioning into the fourth generation. The family hosts nearly 800 people for its annual Neighbor Night and 5,000 people for farm tours each year. Annie received the 2014 Excellence in Dairy Promotion Award and presented at the 2009 Great Lakes Dairy Conference on Neighborhood Relations and Community Involvement. The farm has seen substantial growth—building and modifying existing buildings to accommodate the expansion. The farm has 2,000 Holstein cows. In 2014, they began a partnership with Lowell Light and Power to supply solids for a digester.

Friday, October 2 at 2 p.m.

Hosted By: R & G Miller & Sons, Columbus, Wis. 
Highlights: 360 milking/Organic Dairying
Sponsored By: Organic Valley

R & G Miller & Sons has been a leader in organic dairy farming for 20 years, developing successful management practices for their livestock and cropping enterprises. Certified organic in 1997, the farm has become a sustainable producer of the high-quality milk, marketed through Organic Valley. The 360-cow Holstein and crossbred herd is milked twice daily in a 30-stall carousel parlor. Cows maintain a rolling herd average of 19,700 lb. of milk with 3.8% fat and 3.2% protein. Cows are on pasture in season and are supplemented with TMR and probiotics to enhance immune systems. Crop rotation of 1,600 acres maintains soil fertility and plant health. This regime disrupts insect life cycles, improves soil health, lessens erosion and helps control weeds. Timing of field preparation, propane burners and the addition of mined potassium sulfate and gympsum, help enhance soil fertility. The Miller family has hosted many tours to increase consumer knowledge of farm and food systems. 

Saturday, October 3 at Noon

Hosted By: Trailside Holsteins, Fountain, Minn.
Highlights: 500 milking/Technology
Sponsored By: Select Sires, Inc.

The Johnson family of Trailside Holsteins is passionate about their animals, the land and producing a wholesome, quality product. Continually looking for new technology, protocols and products has been a crucial part of the farm’s success. Milking 500 registered Holstein cows three times a day in a double-8 parallel parlor, the farm has a rolling herd average of 32,300 lb. of milk. In January, Trailside Holsteins installed the Cow Manager system to monitor the activity, health, rumen function and temperature of the herd. All of the feed used is grown on the farm’s 1,300 acres and a TMR is fed to all animals over four months. Michael, his wife, Margaret, and his dad, Jon, are advocates for the dairy industry, hosting farm tours and the community “Milk Run” to raise funds for the local school milk break program. The family is active in the Dairy Herd Improvement Association (DHIA) and American Dairy Association (ADA). Jon serves on the local DHIA board and Michael as the local ADA president. Trailside Holsteins has been named Premier Dairymen for Fillmore County and received the Holstein USA Progressive Genetics Herd Award and their co-op’s Quality Milk Award. 

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