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Some pics of a 1000 cow dairy near my folks in central WA from a recent trip. Serious corn and hay production (5 cuttings) from circle irrigation using water from Columbia River.





 

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Wow, just wow! That's a whole lotta cow there. It looks like a nicely run operation, very clean.
 

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But I thought all factory farms had dead cows lying all over and the live ones were up to their bellies in manure....
Where are the hired hands that are supposed to be torturing and abusing the animals????

Seriously...nice looking set up. How would ya like to bottle feed all those calves in all those hutches???
 

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It's impressive to see such operations.
I always wonder though, when the day comes where cities full of people decide they need the water that is currently being used for irrigated agriculture, who will win that battle and get the water?
 

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There was a 12,000 cow operation featured in "The Furrow" a publication put out by John Deere. They are located in Idaho I beleive. They milk 500 cows an hour or so. So more or less, they are constantly milking.



Jeff
 

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We have one like that around here. the parlor is 2 double 25s. Constantly milking except for the one hour clean time. Run the milk through chillers and right into the truck.
They are putting in a matching parlor soon.
Acres of free stalls under roof.
10 years ago they had just a double 14 and a 6000 gallon bulk tank.
 

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From a kiwi perspective that looks ...just so wrong... Not a blade of green grass to be seen. The hutches are horrible. Over here having one calf on its own could earn you a visit from the SPCA.

But I would be interested to hear a bit about the milking shed set-up.
 

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The milking setup might be wide open, could be a rotary. They generally are open to the outside where its hot, too hard to ventilate.



But I agree, those large operations aren't good for the cows. A hoof trimmer we use says he likes coming here, because ALL of the animals are easy to handle, lead for the most part. At most of his stops, especially the large freestalls. He doesn't see anyone, and the cows are wild. He has had some try to jump out, etc etc.


The calf care is ok, but nothing like you would see on a small dairy. Or the dairy simply contracts out to someone to raise their calves.


I rather see the small guy, with the cows lasting 8+ years, not 2-3.


Jeff
 

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Valmai said:
From a kiwi perspective that looks ...just so wrong... Not a blade of green grass to be seen. The hutches are horrible. Over here having one calf on its own could earn you a visit from the SPCA.
But I would be interested to hear a bit about the milking shed set-up.
Had a girlfriend-college roommate-about 20 years back who did an exchange on a New Zealand dairy farm; she said they cut the cows tails off so they wouldn't interfere with milking...that didn't sound so nice either...however, I DO agree that bigger isn't always better. My biggest concern would be the impact that 1000 cows would have as far as manure lagoons, waste management, etc. We are a county that is prime dairyland, lots of grass and a cool coastal temp. Most of our dairies are smallish, in the low 100s I would venture, and pasture their cows. Majority Jersey with Holsteins following. Calves hutched here, too, which is only until weaning, so I don't see that as such a bad thing, I guess. My pet peeve is the water sucking developers and golf courses that are all over our arid Southwest (Arizona, Nevada, etc) that are taking water, sucking aquifers dry, etc.
 

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We used hutches on our small (60) dairy. Reduces the transmission of disease. Had very good results with it. No pneumonia or something ripping through a whole pen of them and wiping out 10 or so replacements at once.
When I was a kid I had big dreams of having hundreds of cows and a big parlor. But after working around a few as an adult I think I'd rather have 30 or 40. Then you can farm. With a big set up like this you manage. There is a difference.
 

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http://www.threemilecanyonfarms.com/

Here's a link to the HUGE 16,000 cow dairy that has been operating in Boardman, OR. Talk about managing instead of farming! Even though the website talks about how much of their own feed they grow, this dairy has had a serious impact on the availability of higher-quality alfalfa, which we here in the Willamette Valley have always had to buy in from the east side of the state. It also had a pretty serious impact on the formulations for nursery stock potting mix when they cut their contracts to ship composted dairy manure. Nursery suppliers were pretty happy for a few years there, to have an alternative to peat moss.

Can you imagine herd health management and calving for SIXTEEN thousand cows? Yikes.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
sammyd said:
But I thought all factory farms had dead cows lying all over and the live ones were up to their bellies in manure....
Where are the hired hands that are supposed to be torturing and abusing the animals????

Seriously...nice looking set up. How would ya like to bottle feed all those calves in all those hutches???

The cows don't look so pretty in the wet winter. Now in 100 degree heat, the manure piles they lay on are dry.

As for the torture, I think they do it slowly. What is the average lifespan of a cow in a high-production dairy? I think I've read it's under 4 years. If so, I don't understand, with the expense of raising them, why only get 2 lactations or less?

This kind of operation of course isn't my style, but as long as fewer and fewer people want to have a cow, or farm at all, I suppose it is the way it will be.

By the way, for those of you that think WA state is all forest, this area is barren desert, only greened up by irrigation water.
 

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I believe they shoot for 4 lactations which would put them at 6 yrs.
They may be good after that but the problems start cropping up...poor breedability, feet, legs, udder....so they ship em then rather than wait for or put up with problems.

Even with only 45 a cow over 7 was kinda rare.
It takes 2 years for a calf to get into production and if you get an average of 50/50 bulls to heifers I think 3 lactations should be about the average time a replacement will be available for any cow. 4 would be a better number to allow for problems with the replacements themselves.
 

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Jcran Im not suggesting we do it perfectly :). Docking cows tails is now illegal here, about time to!!! I guess one advantage of that system is the cows dont have to walk up to a km. to the milking shed twice a day like they can here. "Water sucking developers" Over here it is the dairy farmers. I dont know what the average age of dairy cows is but Ive worked on farms which have had 16 and 20 year old cows.
 

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Depends what their diet is. A cow that is on a farm that feeds hay and grain WILL last longer than a cow that is on a TMR, or fed corn silage. I am not saying those farms that feed corn silage have cows that dont last. But as a whole, grass fed cows do seem to last longer. Here I feed baleage/grain and they get some pasture. They produce well, seem very healthy, dont have the rumen problems associated with TMRs.



Jeff
 

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I have talked with one of these people who run a very large dairy in California.

They had hundreds of Holsteins which they milked 3 times a day which gives more milk in a 24 hour period and they run three shifts on the milking. 24/7 365

Around the outside of the area used for the dairy they had a very large area that they ran over 900 beef steers all year around eating the grass they grew.

After these milking cattle are done producing for profit they go to action and are sold for slaughter as caners and cutters. Which makes a lot of hamburger, and cheap cuts fo meats and baloney, potted meat etc hotdog weiners.

If you travel Interstate 8 in Southern California for what seems like a hundred miles there are probably over a hundred dairies just like this.

And field after field of Alpha hay being raised and they get 5 or more cutting of hay a year.
You would not believe the huge stacked sky high big bails ( 4 x 8 ) of hay they have.

bumpus
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