Cows were comfortable eating in one of the 1,000-foot long freestall barns at Rock Prairie Dairy. Photo By John Oncken
Rock Prairie Dairy move to Wisconsin smooth
The newly built $35-million Rock Prairie Dairy laid out on 160 acres of farmland in eastern Rock County is in business.
On Monday there were 2,100 cows going through one of the two Double 35 BouMatic Excalibur 90 LX-equipped milking parlors on a three-time-a-day schedule. The second similar parlor will soon be operating as heifers freshen and the milking herd grows toward the planned 4,600 cows.
The first cows arrived Dec. 15, 2011 and three generations of the Tuls family: Jack, his son Todd and Todd’s son TJ (who manages the operation) were there for the first milking. To date 2,100 cows and 2,600 bred heifers have made the move from the Tul’s Double Dutch Dairy in eastern Nebraska. “We’ve moved all the cows that were planned but may move more bred heifers as future replacements,” TJ says.
Owner/manager TJ Tuls (who just turned 20 years old) said it was an uneventful trip with the cattle adapting to Wisconsin without a hitch. And, the cows did not miss a milking.
Tuls says that there are currently 29 employees, 20 of which were hired locally, with more to be hired as the milking herd increases.
The side wall curtains are down on the six, 1070-foot long dairy barns — five freestall barns and a transition barn — and the 36-high velocity fans per barn have kept the air moving and the temperature at an ideal level.
Sand is settling in the long concrete channel in which water flows on its way from the barns to the 16 manure separators and to one of the lagoons. The sand is removed several times a day for reuse.
The Tuls family originally milked cows in Chino, CA, built a dairy in Kansas that is now operated by an uncle, and owns two dairies (Double Dutch Dairy and Butler County Dairy) with 10,400 cows in eastern Nebraska that is owned and managed by Todd Tuls (TJ’s dad). There are four tanker trailers backed up to the milking facility that will deliver milk to DFA plants, big bales of hay are being unloaded from a flat bed trailer and a TMR is being loaded from the huge silage pile. It is a typical day at a big dairy.
The only sign that this is a new dairy with cows being milked for just over a month are the few workers from the various contractors finishing up last-minute details and odds and ends pieces of heavy equipment waiting to be moved out.
Has the building of the huge facility and getting such a big dairy up and running brought you any surprises or setbacks, I asked?
“No, everything has gone as planned,” TJ says. “So far, so good.”