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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Flat Aggie’s Trip to Weigel Dairy



                Weigel Dairy had the pleasure of having Flat Aggie out for a trip to our farm in Southwest Wisconsin! We’re not sure she was quite ready for the cold weather, but we assured her it was a pretty mild winter so far! Flat Aggie got to hang out with Becca most of her trip and since she is the calf manager we got to learn a lot about calves along with a tour of the rest of the operation!
                The dairy is home to about 340 cows in the milking herd where they get milked three times a day. They are fed a TMR (total mixed ration), which is made up of many different ingredients and formulated specifically for our cows by a nutritionist. Jessica had the pleasure of giving Flat Aggie a ride in the tractor and showed her how we mix feed!


We work very closely with our vet to keep the animals healthy and treat any sick cows – just like you do with your doctor! If one is ill, we diagnose her illness and figure out the best treatment for her. Many antibiotics have milk and meat withdrawals on them so we keep very precise records to make sure any treated animals don’t have their milk go into the bulk tanks. Their milk is dumped down the drain and every day when the milk man comes, he samples our tanks for antibiotics. If there are any traces of antibiotics in the tank it is dumped down the drain. Rest assured – your milk is antibiotic free when you buy it in the store!

                At Weigel Dairy, we milk just about every breed of dairy cow! There are 7 main breeds – Holstein, Brown Swiss, Jersey, Milking Shorthorn, Ayrshire, Red Holstein, and Guernsey. While we milk mainly Holsteins on the farm, we have every breed except for Guernsey’s. We also have a few crossbred cows left which means they are a mix of more than one breed.

We started out in our maternity barn where all the calves are born. When they are born they get vaccines just like human babies! They also get a gallon of colostrum. Colostrum is a mothers first milk after she calves and is very important for calves because they are born with no immunity so they need the colostrum to build up their immune system and grow up to be healthy and happy!
                  Since it is so cold in the winter, the calves get licked off by their mothers and then stay in a calf warmer until they are nice and dry!

From there, they get a jacket put on and move into a hut filled with a lot of warm straw bedding. They get fed twice a day with milk and always have access to fresh water and grain. To keep our calves happy and healthy, they also get fresh bedding as needed.


    
Once they are old enough, they are weaned off milk and move into group housing. We do this at about eight to nine weeks of age as long as they are healthy and eating well. We visited the weaned calves in their barn and Layla couldn’t wait to say hello to Flat Aggie! Calves are very curious animals and love getting scratched and played with. Our weaned calves stay in their calf barn for a few months and continue to move into new groups and barns as they grow into big and beautiful heifers. Once they are old enough, they are bred and eventually enter our milking herd! We take pride in how well our girls are cared for and love to watch them grow from tiny calves into big beautiful cows.

               
                Thanks for following along on our journey! To end the trip, we enjoyed one of many beautiful Wisconsin sunsets we see throughout the year. And we just had to make a snowman! We hope you learned a little bit about Weigel Dairy! Check out some great facts about Wisconsin Dairy below and be sure to follow Weigel Dairy on Facebook to keep up to date with the farm! {www.facebook.com/WeigelDairy}


Wisconsin Dairy Facts*:

-Wisconsin agriculture has an $88.3 billion impact on the state’s economy and the dairy sector contributes $43.4 billion!
-The average dairy cow in Wisconsin generates $34,000 to the state’s economy.
-In the past 60 years farmers have reduced their carbon footprint by 63%!
- With just under 10,000 farms in Wisconsin there are around 1.3 million cows in the state! The average farm has around 130 cows.
-90% of Wisconsin milk is made into cheese.
(*Facts from DairyDoingMore.org)