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All We Do is Milk Cows
"All we do is milk cows," Jim Vos, Two Rivers, Wis., dairy farmer said in a recent report by Al Morrow in the Wisconsin Agriculturalist.
Unlike most dairymen, Vos and his wife Cathy buy almost all the feed consumed by their 200-cow dairy as well as all the re-placement heifers. They don't raise any young stock.
Cows are housed in a freestall barn and milked in an ordinary double six milking parlor. Grain supplements are delivered in semi-loads to the farm (a mix of 18 percent protein and 44 percent steamed, rolled corn). Cows are individually fed the grain mix with a computerized feeding system. Each wears an electronic transponder around its neck which tells a feeding station how much supplement the cow should get each day according to its production.
Vos also buys almost all of his hay except for about 155 acres of hay which he has custom-baled to feed dry cows. They buy haylage from a neighbor who harvests and blows it into the silo for $25 a ton. They also have 125 acres of corn for silage but have custom operators do everything from planting to putting the crop in the silo. Silage is fed five times a day in bunk feeders.
Because they have little investment in equipment, Vos figures they can buy hay and haylage as cheap, if not cheaper, than they can raise it. Vos tracks production costs and says his figures show he's very competitive with the average Wisconsin dairy farm that raises all its feed and re-placements.

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1992 - Volume #16, Issue #5