Great Dairy Herds, by John Parker

If you read David Marrison’s column about the awards given at the recent Dairy Banquet, you should have been impressed by the accomplishments of local dairy farmers.

When we have top dairy herds in the state locally, that says we have dairy farmers doing everything right.  It is obvious that the Boggs Family know how to give their cow’s excellent care.

Or when a herd like Bossy’s Way, that is also tops in production, can get over 50,000 pounds of milk in one lactation from one cow, that also reflects top care.  Then the Wilson Brothers with high milk quality in the county tells you they put a lot of effort into making sure their milk exceeds all quality requirements.

When young people are interested in dairy farming, that is a good sign.  Congratulations go to Deanna Comp for being chosen as Dairy Princess in 2014.  Also to Sydney Millard for his essay that won the dairy contest and to Kathy Eldred for winning the Struna Memorial Award.

Compliments need to go to all these folks and others, such as the Coltman Family that received the dairy family award of the year, for their efforts in outstanding cow care and for producing an abundance of excellent quality milk.

Let’s look at what it takes to get a top producing herd.  Every attention to detail is important.  Keeping the cows comfortable with an adequate, well-balanced diet is a top priority.

To do this, they have access to well-bedded stalls.  Feed is balanced with adequate protein, vitamins and minerals as well as the right amount of roughage, either in what is called a total mixed ration with roughage mixed with grain or with hay or silage fed separately.

Veterinarian services are used on a regular basis to keep cows healthy and check pregnancies.  Good feet and legs are important so the cows can get around comfortably.  Hoof trimming is done when necessary to keep the cows comfortable.

Udder health is essential.  Special steps are taken to keep them clean and prevent mastitis.  This step is essential in producing quality milk.

Regular checks are made of the herd at least every day and usually more often to check for any problems with each cow. Someone familiar with the herd will walk among the cows, checking them carefully.

These are practices followed by most dairy herds in the county.  Cows kept in tie stalls or stanchions are a bit easier to watch because there are usually fewer of them in the herd and someone usually walks by them several times a day.

It is one thing to just say “dairy farmers give their cow’s excellent care” and another thing to explain what that involves.  Practices that I have mentioned are some of the things that go into excellent cow care.

Research form Wisconsin and other states says that both large and small herds provide good care for their cows.  Some folk believe the smaller herds get better care but research does not support that idea.  Dairy farmers with herds of all sizes do a good job.

Local dairy farmers and those across the nation do a remarkable job of getting outstanding production from their cows.  Today they are getting more than twice the production from fewer than half the number of cows.  They do this on fewer acres and with a smaller carbon footprint.

So enjoy a healthy glass of milk or dish of ice cream to day!

(Parker is an independent agricultural writer.)