Aug 28, 201511:08 AMBlaska's Bring It!
with David Blaska
Milking need not be back breaking anymore
(page 1 of 2)
Read part 1 of this blog here.
So many of the older farmers I encountered as a kid complained of arthritic joints.
The milkers here need not bend down under the cows. Workers stand erect — udders are at a workers’ eye level — to milk 100 animals at a time every half-hour in the just-completed milking parlor (by Westfalia Surge). Cows are milked three times a day. Statz Brothers Farm produces 36,000 gallons of milk per day — enough to fill three of those large milk tanker trucks you see on the road. The milk is sold through Dean Foods for drinking. Emphasizing the family aspect, the walls and stairs to the second-floor viewing area/break room were hung with pictures of the Statzes farm throughout the years, which started small with just 80 acres in 1966.
Number One Son and I did not visit the field demonstrations at this week’s just concluded Farm Technology Days, but the phalanx of multicolored farm tractors and haying equipment were clearly visible from afar. The crops on the 6,300-acre Statz farm — corn, alfalfa, wheat, and soybeans — are lush and neat as a pin, partly fertilized by the digested manure.
(Only 131 Wisconsin farms milked more than 1,000 cows in 2012, according to the USDA’s most recent statistics. That’s a little over 1% of the state’s dairy farms. That compares to 9,043 farms milking between 20 and 200 cows — or 78%. But farms are getting larger; 671 Wisconsin farms totaled 2,000 or more acres in 2012 compared to 330 in 1997.)
You need that kind of size to justify what amounts to an animal sewage treatment plant and power station. An anaerobic digester breaks manure down into three components. One product is the separated solids, which are sent to a screw press in another building to produce 28 tons per day of dry, fluffy bedding for the cows. The second product is methane gas that is burned at the generator plant to do two things: heat the water used for heating and sanitizing the milking parlors and make enough electricity to run the operation, equivalent to powering 400 homes. What’s left is liquid fertilizer stored in the “cement pond” — a concrete holding pond with a capacity of 30 Olympic-sized swimming pools. It is injected into the ground (not spread on top) at the right time of year.