“We have found if we keep cows clean, dry, and comfortable, they do very well,” explained Hidden Valley Organic Dairy’s Perry Van Tassell. “We strive to keep clean, dry bedding in our freestalls.”
“In the winter, we put in straw a minimum of twice a week and scrape all of the corrals twice a day. In the summer, we add straw once a week since they are out to pasture, and we only scrape once a day,” Van Tassell said of the changes that are made to the Paul, Idaho, dairy to compensate for seasonal temperature fluctuations.
Three additional organic operations shared insight into their farms in this Hoard’s Dairyman Intel as well as the Round Table found on pages 46 to 48 of the January 25 issue of Hoard’s Dairyman.
Here are their responses to the question, “How are your facilities designed to accommodate organic standards and seasonal weather differences?”
Engelbert Farms, Nichols, N.Y.: We have an open-air freestall barn, which in the winter can be a challenge scraping frozen manure, but overall seems excellent for the cows’ health. On the hottest summer days, the cows will be on pasture overnight and for several hours in the morning then return to the barn in the heat of the afternoon.
Flood Dairy, Oakfield, Wis.: We have not changed facilities since starting to graze. Cows are in a freestall barn November through April and on pasture the rest of the time. We have several paddocks with tree lines for hot summer days. If there is not adequate pasture regrowth, then we use the barn. This occurs fewer than five days a year. Open pastures are then used at night. Water is available in all pastures. We have found the bigger the water tank, the better during hot weather.
Nature’s Way Dairy, Portales, N.M.: The biggest consideration of our dairy site design is the distance from the milking parlor to pastures. We believe that 1 mile, one way, is the longest distance we can walk cows from pasture. Our cows have daily access to the outdoors and will vary their time on pastures due to the time of the year and weather. In the summer, our cows will pasture in the evening and into the night to alleviate heat stress. During the cooler months, they will pasture during the day.
(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2017
January 30, 2017