Milton, Wis. – One of the reasons the June Dairy Month events are held to show how farmers use new technologies to provide cow comfort and to produce the best dairy products they can, says Janet Clark, vice-chairperson of Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin and owner of Vision. -Aire Farms of Eldorado, Wisconsin. The new technologies are eye-opening for people who are becoming increasingly far-removed from farms.
“The way dairy farmers use new technologies is good for cows, the land and people,” she said. “When cows are comfortable they are happier, healthier and produce more milk. And when farmers use more sustainable-agronomic practices to produce feed for cows, they take care of the land. That ‘s a gift to future generations. When farmers can produce the best-quality feed for their cows the cows can produce the best-quality milk. “
The Metcalf family of Glacier Edge Dairy near Milton will host June 4 at the Rock County Dairy Breakfast. Attendees will see a modern dairy farm featuring a freestall barn with a cross-ventilation system and sand bedding as well as a grooming brush for cow comfort. They’ll also see activity collars and a double-12-parallel milking parlor showcasing production efficiency.
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The dairy facility – the newest in Rock County – was built in 2017 after a couple of years of planning, said Corey Metcalf, dairy-operations manager.
“We toured other farms, which helped us identify what we liked,” he said. “We liked the robotic-milking-system facilities we saw with cross ventilation, and integrated into our freestall barn.”
He considered a robotic-milking system but eventually decided against it, he said.
“We thought maintenance costs and future expansion costs would have been too great,” he said.
Sand bedding can contribute to wear and tear on robotic equipment, and he wanted to keep sand bedding to provide cow comfort, he said.
The Metcalfs worked on a dairy-farm design with Glenn Marquette’s Stone Mill Construction of Monroe, Wisconsin. The company specializes in agricultural, commercial and industrial construction.
Marquette said, “In my opinion cross ventilation is the healthiest, most comfortable barn environment.”
In cross-ventilation systems air moves the width of a barn – versus a tunnel-ventilation system that runs the length of a barn. The longer the air must travel, the greater the chance it can become contaminated, he said. There is less air for air to become contaminated as it travels a narrower space. With a cross-ventilation design the barn roof is usually just high enough that one can drive a tractor and mixer through it.
Baffle walls are part of the system at Glacier Edge Dairy. When fans suck air through the barn, baffles push down air. That keeps the air closer to the cows and provides cooling, Marquette said.
Farm-gate prices for milk weren’t profitable when the Metcalfs decided to build. But Jane Metcalf, Corey Metcalf’s mother, said she and her husband, Terry Metcalf, were aging so they wouldn’t be able to farm much longer. They raised cash crops for years, farming 1,100 acres. Corey Metcalf in his late 20s was interested in farming but was more interested in dairy cattle.
“We looked at interest rates and decided it was time for him to take the reins,” she said.
Corey Metcalf’s interest in dairy started at a young age. He started feeding calves and doing other work at his uncle’s farm when he was 14 years old, he said. At age 18 he joined a custom-grain-harvesting team. The traveling crew harvested crops for farmers from Texas to as far north as the US-Canada border. He worked for four seasons at Westlake Harvesting before returning to his family’s farm.
He began dating Kristen Broege, who was raised on a Holstein farm near Janesville, Wisconsin; Her family hosted the Rock County Dairy Breakfast in 1997. The two married in December 2021. In addition to helping with farm work, she’s an event manager for the Genex Cooperative as well as a board member of the Rock County Dairy Promotion Council.
The couple farms along with their parents and three full-time employees. Lauren Metcalf, Corey Metcalf’s sister, helps on the farm when she can. She’s an agriculture teacher and an FFA advisor at Milton High School. FFA members will be bringing their animals for the dairy breakfast’s petting zoo, she said.
The Glacier Edge team milks 300 Registered Jersey cows and raises all the dairy’s heifers. They use genomic testing to select females with the greatest probability of being the best milk producers. Heifers that don’t score as well as bred to produce beef animals.
“Jerseys cross well with beef breeds,” Corey Metcalf said. “I use Charolais for the cross. I like their frame size. “
The Metcalfs sells to a beef packer as well as direct to consumers. The beef operation provides the farm another revenue stream.
The team chose Jerseys for their efficiency and ability to produce milk with good fat and protein components. The farm’s 2021 rolling herd average was 20,000 pounds, with 1,069 pounds of fat and 771 pounds of protein, Metcalf said.
Glacier Edge Dairy is a member of the Rolling Hills Dairy Producers Cooperative of Monroe. Micah Ends, the cooperative’s general manager, said the cooperative’s cheesemaker appreciates excellent protein concentration with customers’ milk because it provides good cheese yields. Rolling Hills staff members will be distributing string cheese at the breakfast.
The Metcalfs said they hope attendees will learn about how well cows are treated, and how those cows produce safe and nutritious dairy products. The Rock County Dairy Promotion Council will drive home that message with what it calls a “dairy-filled breakfast.”
Visit www.facebook.com/GlacierEdgeDairy for more information.
The breakfast will be held from 6:30 to 11 am June 4 at 2679 N County M, Milton. Visit facebook.com and search for “Rock County Dairy Breakfast” for more information.
This is an original article written for Agri-View, a Lee Enterprises agricultural publication based in Madison, Wisconsin. Visit AgriView.com for more information.
Lynn Grooms writes about the diversity of agriculture, including the industry’s newest ideas, research and technologies as a staff reporter for Agri-View based in Wisconsin.