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Friday, April 5, 2013

Flat Aggie Visits a Northeast Kansas Dairy

Flat Aggie is sending her report back this week from the Heim Dairy in Northeast Kansas.  It looks like Jennifer Heim had great fun with Aggie this week.  If you are new to the blog, here is a link explaining our Flat Aggie project with a local first grade class. -KFM

Dear Mrs. Piatt,
We had a great time with Flat Aggie at Heim Dairy Farm this week.  Thanks to you and the class for sending her to visit!  On her first day, we taught her how to do the most important job on the farm – petting our dog, Waylon.  She did a great job, so we knew she’d fit in just fine.  

Our farm is always a busy place.  We milk about 90 cows and raise all of the female calves to become milk cows.  In order for a cow to give milk, she has to have a calf, so we have cows having calves year-round.  We also raise crops.  We plant some forages, like rye, in the winter and harvest them in the spring, and we plant corn, milo and soybeans the spring to be harvested in the fall.  All of these crops except the soybeans are used to feed our cows.  We also put up big round bales of brome and alfalfa hay during the summer, again, used to feed our cows.  And of course, we feed and milk the cows.  All of our milking and feeding chores have to be done twice a day, every day, at the same time each day.

Flat Aggie arrived just after we finished spreading fertilizer on our hay and spring crops, so we took her out to see the fertilized rye field.  We planted this rye last September, and in a few months it will be twice as tall as Flat Aggie.  When it’s ready, we will chop it (a special type of harvesting that cuts the whole plant into little pieces) and feed it to our cows over the summer. 

Now we’re getting ready to work the ground that will be planted with corn.  Flat Aggie helped us work on the disc. When we pull the disc through a field with a tractor, the metal discs you see turn the ground over.  Working the ground in this way makes it easier to plant our crops.  The corn will be chopped for silage this fall, and that will be a big part of what our cows will eat over the winter.

The baby calves live in huts that help keep them warm and dry in the winter, and provide shade in the summer.  This calf was born just before Flat Aggie arrived, and she helped me write out it’s ear tag.  Aggie wanted to name it “Bluestreak” after your school mascot, and I thought that was a great idea.  We put the ear tags in to help keep track of the calves as they get older. 

Once the calves are older they live in groups with other calves the same age.  Flat Aggie helped us load an older group of calves onto the trailer to move them from the farm to a pasture nearby where they have more room to run. 

Flat Aggie also helped us feed these calves some grain.  We buy this mixture from a company that delivers it on this big truck.  They put lots of different ingredients in to make sure the mixture contains all the good stuff our calves need to grow big and strong, all ground up to make it easy for them to digest. 

When the calves grow up, they become milk cows.  The cows have a different feed, and we actually have to mix it up for them every day.  It includes a mixture from the same company as the calf feed along with two types of hay, corn silage, wet distiller’s grain, and ground corn.  We showed Flat Aggie how we put it all into a big mixer and grind it up then feed it to the cows in a bunk. 

All of this feed is very important so that the cows can give us milk, which contains 9 essential nutrients that you and I need to grow big and strong.  Before we took her in the milk barn, we gave Flat Aggie some muck boots.  They’re an important part of the job because they keep your feet clean and dry.  We showed Flat Aggie the big stainless steel bulk tank that holds our milk.  It can hold up to 1500 gallons!  A semi comes and picks up the milk from this tank every other day. 

Flat Aggie helped supervise milking.  But the cows are a lot bigger than her, so she preferred to stay out of their way.

Thanks again for sending Flat Aggie to visit.  If you have any more questions about our farm, please let us know!

Best wishes from Northeast Kansas,
David and Jennifer Heim

 Be sure to go check out Jennifer's blog at Heim Dairy or Facebook. When you visit Jennifer's page, be sure to let her know what a fantastic job she did hosting Flat Aggie.  I personally love the Muck Boots!  What was your favorite part?

This week, Flat Aggie is in Nebraska learning about soil fertility!  Stay tuned.

-A Kansas Farm Mom

Be sure to check out Flat Aggie's other adventures in American Agriculture:

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