Wisconsin Holstein Association to host barn meetings March 22, 27

Wisconsin State Farmer
Wisconsin Holstein Association

BARABOO - The Wisconsin Holstein Association will hold its 2018 barn meetings on March 22 at Village View Farm, Argyle, and March 27 at Alfalawn Farm, Menomonie. Both meetings will run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will include lunch.

This year the meetings will focus on new technologies such robotic milking, automatic calf feeding as well as other technological advancements.

Village View Farm

Village View Farm in Argyle is owned and operated by Kevin and RaeAnn Makos and their sons, Cole and Kory. The Makos family milks their 75-cow Registered Holstein herd with a Lely Astronaut robotic milker. The family had the robot installed in 2014 and their current rolling herd average is 27,936 3.9 1078 3.1 971. In addition to their Registered Holstein herd, they crop 275 acres and feed out all of their bull calves as steers.

The farm was started in 1963 by Kevin's parents, Martin and Barb Makos and has been a closed herd for 45 years. Kevin and RaeAnn handle the milking herd while Cole and Kory assist with training youngstock. Martin still enjoys his time on the dairy and helps by mixing feed and cropping.

In 2014, the family made the decision to build a new freestall barn and milk their herd with robots. They chose the Lely Astornaut system. The process of researching systems began in 2010 where they took tours of dairies using robotic milking systems. Knowing that their sons were getting older and more involved in activities and after seeing the robotic milking systems in action, they choose this route for their dairy.

Kevin is in charge of breeding decisions for the herd with the goal of breeding a complete cow. He breeds for cows that offer both type and production, seldom using bulls with lower than +2.00 on type. Good looking cows also need to produce milk so Kevin will use bulls that area at least +500 on milk with positive components. Current bulls in his breeding program include Kingboy, Yoder, Pety and Kingpin. He's started using a few genomic young sires as well, Doppler, King Royal and Diamondback.

Village View Farm is located at 1295 County Road C, Argyle.

Alfalawn Farms

Alfalawn Farms in Menomonie is owned and operated by the Styer families, brothers Randy, David and Dale Styer. Members from all three families help with the day-to-day management of the dairy.
Alfalawn Farm has had Registered Holsteins for more than 40 years and is currently milking around 2,000 cows that are averaging 83 pounds of milk on 3x/day milking. The rolling herd average just more than 26,500 pounds of  milk with 1,058 pounds of fat and 847 pounds protein.

Cows are milked in a 60-stall DeLaval rotary parlor and the herd maintains a cell count of around 80,000-90,000. All heifers are raised on site where the dairy using automatic calf feeders for the first two months age. After weaning, they are in group pens through five months of age and then moved to a freestall set-up until about 4-6 weeks pre-calving. The family raises some steers and has a variety of other livestock as well.
Technological improvements that have been implemented were done with the goal of becoming more efficient. They use GPS cropping systems as well as the rotary parlor with automated pre- and post-dipper and automatic calf feeders. A sand separation system was added which recycles 98 percent of the sand from the dairy.
Alfalawn strives to breed for cows that are going to have longevity while milking well with high components. They look for cows with moderate stature, front end strength, balanced udders with correct teat placement, and extremely good feet and legs. Their true type cow is a cow that is going to stay in the herd for a long period of time while doing what she does best - milking, breeding back easily, and remaining trouble free.
Bulls are selected for the traits that are most important to meet their breeding goals. First by selecting from strong cow families, while also looking at milk, fat, protein, somatic cell count, type and Net Merit dollars, all the while maintaining an emphasis on Daughter Pregnancy Rate.
The Styers enjoy hosting tours and having other educational events on their farm and strongly believe in the importance of promoting the industry to close the gap of consumer misunderstanding.
Alfalawn farm is located at E2850 St. Rd. 72, Menomonie.
Producers who are considering adding a robotic milking system, automatic calf feeders, or any other technological advancement, are encouraged to attend one of these barn meetings and learn first-hand how it can help achieve goals. All barn meetings are open to any interested Holstein breeder. 
For more information, visit www.wisholsteins.com or contact the Wisconsin Holstein Association office at 608-356-2114.