Some of our staff members have dairy farming roots that run deep, but there are others who don’t have as much firsthand experience with agriculture. We all, however, work every day to bring useful information to dairy farmers around the world. To make sure we all stay connected to current trends in the dairy industry, every so often we get everyone out of the office for a professional development day.
This year, our travels took us to the University of Wisconsin Agricultural Research Station in Arlington. Our first stop was the dairy farm. At the Emmons Blaine Dairy Cattle Research Station, they milk nearly 500 cows twice a day.
After a trip to the milking parlor, we spent time in the sand-bedded freestall barn learning about some of the special features that allow for university research. The facility was built in 2008 and is designed to accommodate pen-based nutrition work, mammary and reproductive physiology research, calf growth studies, transition cow management projects, and individual animal intake studies using electronic feedbunks. We also had the chance to watch their manure and sand separation systems in action.
Next, we spent some time at the beef research station, which was built in 1968. The barn has both individual and group pens that can be used for a variety of studies. There are also paddocks available for grazing trials.
We also visited the UW Weed Garden, followed by some time out in a corn research plot where our Hay and Forage Grower editor, Mike Rankin, talked about the ins and outs of running field crop research trials. Over the lunch hour, we met with the University of Wisconsin Extension Dairy Team, a group of county agriculture agents and state specialists, to learn a little more about their work.
Our final stop was Sassy Cow Creamery, a small scale processing plant that utilizes milk from two nearby farms owned by the Baerwolf family. After that, it was time to head back to the office.
We are thankful to the University of Wisconsin staff who took the time to meet with our group. Take a look at this video, which captures some of the highlights from our day!
The author is an associate editor and covers animal health, dairy housing and equipment, and nutrient management. She grew up on a dairy farm near Plymouth, Wis., and previously served as a University of Wisconsin agricultural extension agent. She received a master’s degree from North Carolina State University and a bachelor’s from University of Wisconsin-Madison.