Wednesday, June 19, 2013

4-H Pen Project

We have been preparing our 2013 4-H projects since last fall, and tonight was the "Evaluation Night" for JM's Advanced Cattle Feeders Pen Project.  This project consists of choosing 4 steers to feed out as a competition.  They have a points system which measures rate of gain (the pounds each calf gains each day), their feed conversion (the rate at which they turn the feed they eat into pounds of gain), how they grade at the packer, the amount of money that the pen of four makes, and they have a component in there for hedging (which includes feed products i.e. corn).  Each "pen" competes against the other "pens" to be the top performer.  Each pen is fed at their own farm using whatever feed products they wish to use.  We submit feed sheets showing the feed  ration and pounds of feed fed to the cattle twice a month.  The pen of four were first weighed in at the end of November.

These "little" guys weighed in at an average of 628 pounds in November.  JM's pen project had full run of one side of the barn plus an outside pen.  They were fed the same ration as our other feeder cattle.  The four cattle that were chosen for JM's project were all home raised calves.  Three of them were from our own cows, and one came from a neighbor's cow.

Each 4-H member had the opportunity to talk about how their cattle are fed and chose 2 cattle out of their pen of four that they think will yield the best at the packer.  It is always fun to see just how much these cattle grow and change during this project.

JM's cattle were weighed in tonight with an average weight of 1523 pounds each.  One of his calves even weighed 1625 pounds.  Incredible!!  They had an average rate of gain of 4.32 pounds per day.  JM will have to wait until next week to learn how they grade and yield at the packer to find out the overall outcome of his project.

This type of project teaches the kids about what goes into feeding cattle for a living.  They have to know about feed rations and ingredients as well as the cost of those products.  The kids learn about the cost of the cattle and what price they have to have back in order to make a profit on their project.  It also teaches them work ethic.  Those cattle rely on them every day to be fed and watered.  We had a great group of kids there tonight that should be very proud of their accomplishments.  The kids learn something every year with this type of project no matter which place your project falls in the ranking.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Dairy Fun!

Since June is Dairy Month, one of our local dairies held a tour of their facility tonight.  We thought it would be fun to head over there and see their Dairy.  The tour was held at Jones Family Dairy Farm which is located east of Fostoria, Iowa.

Jones Dairy milks about 700 Jersey cows per day.  The cows are milked in three different shifts.  The shifts each take about 6.5 hours to complete.  Each cow gives about 7 gallons of milk per day.

As each cow comes into the milking parlor, their tag is read by the computer, and the tag number displays on the digital screen as they are being milked.  Each cow's daily milk production is recorded in the computer.  They can tell how much milk each cow gave at each milking shift every day.

The cows are very relaxed and calm as they come into the milking parlor.  Each cow is cleaned before and after milking.  This is both for the cleanliness of the milk product and for the well being of the cow.  The fresh milk is transferred into a holding tank.  On the way to the holding tank, the milk is cooled by using cool ground water.  The milk is cooled by the water until it reaches about 55 degrees before going to the holding tank to be cooled the rest of the way to 37 degrees.  The water used to cool the milk is then recycled to drinking water for the cows.  The cows prefer the warmer water over the cool water to drink.

After milking, the cows are returned to a free stall barn where they have feed and water in front of them 24 hours a day.  They have clean bedding to lay on in the barn as well.

It was a very interesting tour tonight.  Jones Dairy did a nice job of showcasing their farm and family business.  I commend the Jones Family for their time and the effort given in caring for their cows. If you get a chance, please "like" their Facebook page at Jones Dairy and also check out their website: