PDPW Development Day One: Dairy Science FUN-damentals

The Professional Dairy Producers (PDPW) is the dairy industry’s professional development organization. They provide educational events that are open to members and non-members that connect producers, industry experts, and industry affiliates all across the nation; as well as industry outreach with the goal of educating others about the dairy industry. To learn more about PDPW head to pdpw.org.

Our trainers were Dennis Frame, the current owner and manager of Timber Ridge Consulting. Dennis previously was a founder of the University of Wisconsin Discovery Farms Program and is also Professor Emeritus of the University of Wisconsin Extension. Dennis continues to work with farmers and industry leaders to develop watershed programs and reduce agriculture’s impact on the environment. Shelly Mayer is PDPW’s Executive Director, as well as a mom and dairy farmer. Within the organization, she works with board leadership to develop a strategic, national plan, that includes the goals of helping dairy farm families across the country who face key issues within the industry. As a mom and dairyman, she works with her husband and children to manage a herd of Holsteins and Brown Swiss, as well as market their homestead beef and genetics program.

Day one of the PDPW Agricultural Professional Partnership training began with learning udderly amazing bovine beauty! The first half of the day included classroom training, where we focused on dairy terminology, dairy breeds, the life cycle of a dairy cow, milk, the anatomy of a cow, and cow diets.

Some dairy terms to remember included: Colostrum (milk produced by a cow during the first milking after calving which includes immunoglobulins-vital to a calf’s health), Dry Cow (non-lactating pregnant cow that has completed a lactation), forage (fibrous feedstuffs harvested from l=plant sources), and Total Mixed Ration (TMR-what the cow eats, and as I like to call it-Cow Casserole!). When discussing terminology, we also mentioned the seven breeds of dairy cattle that are common in the US. Predominately, we have the Holstein cow, which comes in both Black and White and Red and White, as well as Jerseys, Brown Swiss, Ayrshires, Guernsey’s, and Milking Shorthorns.

Additionally, we learned the life cycle of a cow, and how it goes from calf, to heifer, to cow, to being culled. This led to the discussion of how cows develop, and how they have four “stomachs” or different compartments of the stomach, including the rumen, abomasum, omasum, and reticulum. We also touched on rumination, and how this allows cattle to eat a very different diet than humans, which provides them the energy needed to produce the milk we consume.

This basic foundation led to our

afternoon training, where we were able to head outside and explore Koepke Farms, a fifth generation dairy farm that was established in 1875. Koepke Farms prides itself in sustainability and top-notch care for their cows. Attendees were able to see their dry cow area, learn about the different feed products they use in their various TMR’s (Total Mixed Ration), and their parlor and office area, where we learned more about record keeping and how they monitor their cows. We even got to taste some of the cheese they produce with milk from their herd, LaBelle Cheese!