FVTC educational farm tour draws 300 participants

Dan Hansen

NEW LONDON – Despite Mother Nature blanketing the area with nearly a foot of snow the previous day, the 68th Annual Fox Valley Technical College Educational Farm Tour went on as scheduled Wednesday, April 4.

Five school buses picked up approximately 300 people at various locations in east central Wisconsin for visits to three farms: Egan Dairy and Murphy Family Dairy near New London and Rohan Dairy Farms near Bear Creek.

The tour was open to anyone interested in learning about innovative and effective production agriculture practices, new dairy cattle housing, milking/milking facilities, and employee management.

Egan Dairy

Egan Dairy is a partnership between brothers Mark and John, who purchased the farm in the 1970’s. They built the Double 11 Herringbone milking parlor in 2001, and added a freestall barn in 2005.

Their dairy herd comprises 650 milking cows, 100 dry cows, 300 heifers and 100 calves. The cows have a 30,000-pound rolling herd average (RHA), with 4.4% butterfat (BF), 3.20% protein and 140,000 somatic cell count (SCC).

Dry cows and heifers are housed in sand-bedded free stalls in multiple locations. Calves are housed in hutches and a calf barn.

Cropping is done on 800 owned acres and 1,200 rented acres, and almost all cropping is done in-house. Feed is stored in silage bags, and multiple silos are used to store high-moisture corn, haylage and some corn silage.

Mark and John are assisted with the labor by 15 employees. The farm has 10 million gallons of manure storage, and utilizes custom manure application.

The farm features a custom nutrition program. Animal health includes ultrasound pregnancy testing on a weekly basis and SMS breeding program.

Patrick and Joe Murphy welcomed visitors to their new freestall barn with four pens, one for each of the four DeLaval voluntary milking system (VMS) guided flow robots.

Murphy Family Farms

Murphy Family Farms, established in 1855, is owned by Patrick and Diane Murphy, and their son, Joe, and his wife, Wendy.

During his dairy farming career, Patrick his used milk cans, a transfer station, a pipeline and milking parlor. But now he and Joe operate a four-robot milking system,

They are completing their first year in new cross-ventilated freestall barn with four pens, one for each of the four DeLaval voluntary milking system (VMS) guided flow robots.

Currently, their herd consists of 225 Holstein milking cows, 28 dry cows, 128 heifers and 28 calves. They have a 27,000 RHA, 4.0% BF, 3.1% protein and 160 SCC.

Heifers are housed in a counter-slope barn, pre-breeding animals are housed in a natural ventilation freestall barn, and calves are housed in hutches. Manure storage is provided by a 2-million gallon lagoon.

Cropping is done on 210 acres of owned land and 136 rented acres. All forage is stored in piles. Joe and Patrick work full time, with one part-time employee and two others who help as needed.

Their management program includes a nutritionist, weekly herd health checks, AAA mating for heifers, financial consultant, and they are considering implementing a marketing program.

Cory Rohan led tour participants through their new heifer barn which can house 400 animals.

Rohan Dairy Farms

Rohan Dairy Farms has been operating at it current location since 1962, when Roger and Jane Rohan purchased the property. Today, Roger’s son, Tom, his wife, Nancy, and their son, Corey, and his wife, Francie, own and operate the farm.

Over the years numerous additions and improvement have been made to the facilities. A 4-row freestall barn was added in 2001, a new 6-row barn was built in 2008 and a special-needs barn was added in 2009.

A new double-20 Germania parlor and holding area were added in 2011, a three-side bedding-pack barn for weaned heifer calves was built in 2005, and a new heifer facility was built in 2016.

The herd includes 704 milking cows, 94 dry cows, 579 heifers and 132 calves. Cows are milked three times a day, with an RHA of 27,675 pounds, 4.0% BF, 3.13% protein and 99,500 SCC.

Cropping is done on 750 owned acres and 1,550 rented acres, producing silage corn and grain corn, wheat, soybeans and alfalfa. Haylage is stored in bunkers and corn silage is stored on a drive-over pile. Three 20-by 90-foot Harvestore silos provide storage for high-moisture corn.

Farm management team includes a cow manager and assistant, feeder and farm mechanic. There are 12 milkers and a four-member field team. The farm also has a nutrition program, nutrient management plan, animal health program and works with tax and financial consultants.

In addition to the farm tour, there was also a lunch and recognition program at the Crystal Falls Banquet Hall in New London.