Making ‘Udder’ Sense

Published on: 19:37PM Mar 05, 2010



The Crandall brothers milk 260 cows on their fifth-generation farm.

By Brad & Mark Crandall, Crandall Dairy Farms, Battle Creek, Mich.


Carbon emissions and going green definitely seem to be tied to everything these days, and dairy farms are in the thick of the debate.


Agriculture as a whole has always been at the forefront of efficiency and maximizing productivity to survive. The economic challenges of this past year have put any and all inefficiencies and wasteful practices under a microscope.


Carbon emissions can be tied into so many areas of cost and/or savings that it has to be a focus of your dairy operation. That being said, there is a very broad approach to how and why you make changes that affect the environment.  


On our farm, we have always paid close attention to how our decisions impact the environment. Being a good steward of your land is one of the most important responsibilities of any farmer.


The changes we are able to make on our farm are restricted to the cost and feasibility based on our size.  Installing a methane digester on a 260-cow operation isn’t realistic. 


Changes we have made include:

- reducing fuel usage by shutting off equipment when not in action;

- turning down thermostats and capturing more heat in our parlor; and

- switching from paper towels to reusable hand towels for udder prep.

We also built a new commodity building, which enables us to handle larger deliveries, meaning less loads and a savings on delivery charges.


The upgrade to a self-propelled harvester has also made a huge improvement in silage production efficiency, and it’s saved a lot of fuel.


The main area we focus on, however, is trying to maximize milk production levels. It starts with a high-quality ration that gives us as much milk as possible and as little nutrient waste as possible.


The dairy industry should be congratulated--and not scrutinized--for its achievements over the past 60-plus years of making a higher quality product with fewer animals and inputs.


One tool that helped to maximize milk production and feed efficiency was rbST. Whether you agree or disagree with its role, it is a fact that it was an improvement in carbon "hoof print." 


It would benefit all of us if our universities and industry researchers would start doing more to provide us with the information and tools to continue to move production potential forward.  The focus is definitely more on what comes out of the rear of the cow than on the wonderful product that comes from "udderneath" the cow.


We feel it would be a wasted opportunity not to share our honest opinion on the reality of global warming/climate change. In regards to man-made global warming, we believe it to be a man-made hoax. If you look hard enough, you can actually find legitimate research and news stories that expose the total fraud of the IPCC report of 2007 on which policy decisions are being made.  Data that did not fit the goal of proving global warming was knowingly ignored.


If only they could predict tomorrow’s weather with the same certainty as they claim to know what’s going to happen 10 to 50 years from now. Hmmm. . . .