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Slideshow: Progressive Dairy Operators tour farms in Michigan and Indiana

Published on 04 October 2017

In late August, more than 100 members of Progressive Dairy Operators (PDO) filled two coach buses and departed across the Great Lakes to tour farms in Michigan and Indiana. Stops included:

• Aquila Farms LLC, Bad Ace, Michigan – John Verhaar’s family’s home farm with 2,200 Holstein, Swedish Red and Montbéliarde cross cows.

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• Aurora Farms, Fairgrove, Michigan – Receiving fresh cows from Aquila Farms, Johnny Verhaar (son of John) and his wife, Maria, milk 750 cows at this site using 12 robots and two employees.

• Bos Dairy LLC, Fair Oaks, Indiana – Tony Bos milks 3,300 cows in a 72-stall rotary parlour. These cows are housed in a cross-ventilated barn with deep-bedded digester solids in the stalls. In addition, six groups of 120 cows each are milked by 12 robots in a 12-row cross-ventilated barn with waterbeds in the stalls.

• Roto Z Dairy, Snover, Michigan – This 3,500-cow dairy built by Jake Zwemmer featured a 15-row, sand-bedded freestall barn and 100-stall external rotary parlour.

• Z-Fresh Dairy, Elkton, Michigan – The Zwemmer family’s dry cow and calving facility with a double-12 parlour.

• Shuler Dairy, Baroda, Michigan – Located in a heavy tourist area, Bill Schuler focuses on cow comfort with a compost-bedded pack barn, hybrid tunnel ventilation system and two milking robots.

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• Vanderploeg Friesians, Ithaca, Michigan – Klaas and Mares Vanderploeg combine love of horses and cows at this 3,500-cow dairy equipped with a 72-stall rotary parlour and separate parallel parlour for fresh cows. Sand bedding is used and recycled on-site.

• Westvale-Vu Dairy, Nashville, Michigan – This family dairy milks 200 Holsteins with four robots. Milk gravity flows downhill from the dairy to the on-farm creamery where it is bottled and used to make ice cream, cheese, yogurt smoothies and butter under the MOO-ville Creamery logo.

Non-farm stops included a sugar beet processing plant, Mensch Manufacturing, Fair Oaks Farms tourist experience and Michigan State University’s WK Kellogg Biological Station. The pasture-based research station rotates 85 cows twice a day through pastures and milks them with two robots.

This tour was so popular, PDO is hosting it again Oct. 17-19. Registration and tour details are available at the PDO website.  end mark

Photos provided by Harold House.

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