Last weekend was Farm-City Day in our area. It offered non-farmers a chance to get out and see what is happening in farming. Turned out the farm was just down the road from us. We drive past it all the time and didn’t even know it existed. We arrived when the event was scheduled to start and there were already over 50 cars in the parking lot.
After registering we boarded a hay wagon for a trip around the farm. I would have liked to walk around but I suspect the liability would be too great.
We drove past the barn where the new born calves are house. They stay with their mothers for a week and then are moved to this fully automated calf barn. Feeding is automatic and RFD tags allows the farm to monitor each calves food intake. Beading is sawdust made from old buildings torn down in the Twin Cities. As the calves grow they are moved through a succession of barns.
We passed two large liquid manure holding tanks. The were cement with clay underneath to prevent any leakage into the ground water. Sand is used for bedding for the older cows and 99 percent of it is recovered cleaned and reused.
The silage pile was 36 feet high. An iron pipe is driven into the top of the pile so workers can use a safety harness when working on the pile. The pile is on concrete and any drainage is cleaned or pumped into the Liquid manure pit. It takes two people 8 hours per day to feed the cattle.
The highligh of the visit was the milking parlor. It was circular and turned. The cows hopped on and when done milking hopped off. It holds 60 cows and takes 8 minutes to rotate. As we watched it look like two people were preparing the cows and attaching the milkers.
The equipment to cut the silage is designed to scan the wagon and then automatically fill it to capacity before turning off.
The equipment to spread the liquid manure places it in the ground rather than spreading it on the surface.
The farm expects to milk 2,000 cows next year. My grandfather had about a dozen.