A lot goes into operating a dairy farm. We work hard, but we couldn’t do it without the support services of many others. This post isn’t all-inclusive, but it highlights many of the people and businesses (in no particular order) that help our dairy function day-to-day, and especially in busy seasons.
We call him the feed man, which may sound simple, but his knowledge is invaluable to our operation. I mentioned before that after switching our ration our milk production had dropped. We made assumptions regarding the quality of our rye when we started using it, and they weren’t all correct. After the feed man got the tests back on our rye, he was able to use the information to modify the commodity blend we buy from him. After his adjustments, we saw quick and steady improvement in production. He has the background and knowledge to make small changes that have a big impact for our cows.
We do most of our routine vet work ourselves, but we aren’t trained to handle everything. Our veterinarian gets us the medications we need to keep our cows and calves healthy. He also does our calfhood vaccinations and is on call for any health issues or injuries we don’t feel comfortable handling ourselves. Thankfully we don’t have those cases very often, but it’s great to have someone available when we do.
Our dairy supplier stops by to bring us supplies like acid, teat dip and soap. They also provide liners for our milking units and other equipment parts and maintenance when needed. They keep records of our usage so they know when to expect us to run low on a product, and therefore, when to stop by to replace it. We do keep records (and pay attention), but not needing to call every time we need soap is a major convenience.
One question I often get is: “What do you do with the milk?”. We don’t. That’s the great thing about the milk hauler. Every other day (sun, rain, sleet, snow or holiday — really, not like the post office) the milk hauler comes and picks up the milk in our bulk tank. Our coop, DFA, markets our milk and arranges all of this. They haul it to Roberts Dairy in Kansas City where most of our milk goes to liquid milk you can buy at many regional stores.
We work with four AI companies (each referenced here) and have different relationships with each of them. They supply frozen straws of semen that we use to breed our cows along with breeding supplies like sleeves, sheaths and lube. A rep also stops by and fills our semen tank with liquid nitrogen to keep our inventory frozen. Before David started AI-ing, we had to own a bull, and genetic progress was difficult. With the help of these companies and their reps, we’re hoping to see major genetic gains in the next few years as we transition our milking herd from mostly herd-bull-sired to AI cows.
Seed Company Rep
Our seed supplier advises us on varieties and types of crops that fit our goals. He helps us maintain our budget by offering alternative options at different costs. He also delivers the seed to our farm. Basically, he makes the hectic planting season a little more efficient.
Local Agribusiness Companies
We use a few different suppliers for things like additional seed, fertilizer, spray, and fuel. They, like our primary seed supplier, advise us based on our needs. They work with David to determine which sprays and fertilizers are right for our crops and our fields, and they deliver fuel to the farm. We also sometimes hire them to apply some of their products, saving us time.
One thing you may notice about all of these services is convenience and efficiency are key. The schedule of our dairy is very busy, and anything that can save us time is appreciated. These specialized individuals and companies make us and our cows better. Thank you to those who work hard in these areas, and many others, so that we can continue to operate – we really couldn’t do it without you.