Our animals get the royal treatment
Our cows mean more to us than simply milk-producing assets. They receive exceptional care under our watch. We monitor each cow’s diet carefully and ensure they are comfortable year round.
Because we feed all our animals in confinement, under a roof (as opposed to grazing in an open field), we are required by the State of Wisconsin to have a WPDES (Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permit. The Wisconsin DNR administers and monitors the WPDES permits, which apply to other industries in addition to farming.
One of the restrictions set by the WPDES is that we can’t discharge any pollutants, such as runoff from our fields. We are required to separate rain water from manure water so they don’t mix and run off into the field. We also must keep our animals on concrete because it’s cleaner than having them stand in manure-caked fields.
WPDES requires us to collect the manure and store it for a minimum amount of time. This becomes a part of our nutrient management program.
Our cows probably have a more balanced diet than many humans! We feed them specific mineral mixes and protein mixes to ensure the animals remain super healthy and they produce the best milk possible. We’re proud to support local growers, as some of the ingredients come from area co-ops.
We employ a full-time cow feeding specialist who mixes feed, controls and monitors rations to ensure the cows are getting everything they need. We have a unique computer program to track and adjust feed rations as necessary. Believe it or not, we track the individual daily eating habits of every one of our 2000 cows.
Cow care and comfort are number one considerations for us. Take the hot, summer months for instance. Our barns have cooling misters and industrial sized fans, as does the milking parlor. The sides of the barns can be open in summer, blocking the sun, yet promoting air movement.
Our full-time cow comfort specialist regularly cleans any wet material from stalls. We even have a special machine that fluffs the bedding to keep it soft and dry and to control bacteria growth. We’ll add bedding when necessary to ensure continued comfort. You might get the impression our dairy farm doubles as a luxury resort for cows – we think the cows would agree!
Of course, we maintain a vaccination schedule, just like you would for your own child. We also perform preventative hoof trimming. And our fly control program promotes insect-free buildings.
We employ several other processes to ensure herd health.
A typical Wisconsin cow herd is Holstein. We brought in European breeds to improve the Holstein’s life span through cross breeding. The hybrid animal has improved birth results, develops better feet and legs, and lives longer.
Our cheese customers are looking for higher levels of protein and butter fat, which comes from the European cow. This produces a higher yield of cheese, which keeps our customers happy, and potentially keeps the cost lower for the consumer.