On Tuesday, March 25th Union Bank & Trust Company sponsored a Dairy Tour for area dairy farmers. Over 100 farmers attended from Green, Rock, Dane, Jefferson and Walworth counties. The participants toured two state-of-the-art dairy farms and learned from an informative luncheon presentation that focused on the dairy section of the new Farm Bill.
Our first stop was the York Dairy of Lake Geneva. The York’s new facility was open for production in late October of 2013, although the facility is new; this family has been dairy farming in the Lake Geneva area for several generations. The York Dairy milks 240 Jersey cows with four robotic milkers. The cows are free to visit the robots on their own schedule at any time throughout the day (the milkers are open 24 hours per day). The average cow in this herd visits the robot for milking 3.1 times per day. The York’s cows are housed in a six row, free stall barn that is tunnel ventilated with 36 fans moving the air through the barn. The barn is insulated and according to Tom York, never dropped below 40 degrees during the recent frigid winter. The York Dairy is owned by Tom and Carty York. Their children Erik, Wayne and Chelsea along with Tom’s parents, Walter and Mary are all involved in this farming operation.
The farmers also enjoyed a family style lunch with speaker, Scott Brown of the University of Missouri-Columbia. Brown is the program director for the Food and Agriculture Policy Research Institute. Brown led a discussion on the major changes in the Farm Bill – changes that will require action by each dairy producer in the nation. Brown’s presentation was focused on helping our local producers prepare to sign up for new dairy supports defined in the Farm Bill.
After lunch the attendees visited Dutch Made Holsteins – a 400 cow dairy owned by the Vanderstappen family of Lake Geneva. This dairy is milking 400 cows (mainly Holsteins) three times per day in a double 10 Germania parlor. The cows are housed in a six row, sand bedded free stall barn. The manure system on this farm allows them to reclaim nearly 95% of the sand, separate it out and reuse it as bedding for the cows. This allows for less waste hauled to the fields and a smaller carbon footprint when dealing with manure from the cows, (fewer loads of solid waste = less tractor and fuel usage). This farm is family owned by Martin and Nancy and currently two of their children, Marty and Adrianna, work full time on the farm.
Union Bank & Trust Company is an active and leading agricultural bank – we are proud to work with today’s farmers and look forward to our continued commitment to the agricultural industry. We would like to thank the Yorks and Vanderstappens for opening their farms, so allowing other area farmers to participate in a great day of learning.