PDPW Development Day Two: Farming, Fields, and Fundamentals

Day two of the PDPW APPs training brought us to Blue Star Dairy, located in Arlington, WI. Blue Star Dairy has three separate locations, and milks approximately 2,600 cows between the locations in Arlington, Deforest and Middleton. They use Germania herringbone style parlors, with a double 12 in Middleton, a double 16 in Deforest, and a double 18 in Arlington. Blue Star Dairy is owned by the Meinholz family, who takes great care and pride in their cattle. In fact, at their Arlington and Deforest locations, they use AfiMilk Weighing Systems in their parlors, which allows them to monitor each cows daily milk yield, activity and conductivity, as well as a many other features. In addition to learning about their cows, we also learned about the farmland that they run. They operate 4,500 acres to produce feed for their cattle, and purchase the remaining 1,500 acres of additional feed.

While at the dairy, we focused on the decisions farmers have to make to feed their cattle, from how many acres to have, to what crops to plant, to how and when to harvest them. We began the day discussion rations, and what cows need to eat to be able to produce the milk we consume. We learned that forages are the foundations of balanced rations. The most typical forages fed are corn silage, alfalfa hay, and grass hay.

After learning the basics behind the rations that cows consume, we then headed outside to actually see what makes up the ration. Right next to the barn we were in was a corn field that was most likely going to be used for corn silage, as the base of their feed! From there, we headed to their bunkers to see all the feedstuff they use. They were in the process of chopping hay for haylage that day, so we got to see them stuff the bags that they hay ferments in to be used for feed later on. We also saw the grains, byproducts, protein feeds, minerals and vitamins, and feed additives they use.

We also spent some time learning about their manure management. They have a pit for manure storage, and then a separator which separates and cleans the sand that can be found in their manure to be reused. Talk about sustainability!

We finished the day discussing varieties of crops that can be planted, including varieties of corn, hay, and soybeans.