Friday, November 16, 2012

Day 16: Milk Meters

Today's post seems fitting, as our cows used these this morning to measure how much milk they give.  Today is what is known on dairy farms as "test day".  It is the day each month that our tester, Jen, comes with 12 of these meters that are attached to each of the milking machines, and weighs how much milk each cow gives. In addition, samples are taken from each cow's milk and sent to a lab to be analyzed for milkfat, protein, and bacteria count.  All of this information is transmitted to Brent's labtop & is in a program called PCDart that we can utilize to run reports, and identify cows with problems and figure out who has the best (and worst) genetics in the herd.  It allows us to look at a cow's milk production, and if she has dropped off significantly from the previous month, it tells us there may be a problem, and we investigate "cow-side". For example, Brent has a list of cows that he is checking out as we speak.

We anxiously await who the High Cow of the month is - that is the cow that gives the most milk. Brent prints off a report shortly after returning from the barn that allows us to look at the milk weights and some of the cow's vital information such as age, stage of lactation, and the difference in milk from last month's weight.  This month's winner is a tie - #8013 a 5 year old, 3rd lactation cow, and #7559, a nice 2nd lactation cow that we bought from a neighbor as a bred heifer last year when we built our new barn.  They both topped out at 118.4 pounds per day.  (@ 8 lbs/gal, that is 14.8 gallons of milk which is nearly 237 glasses of milk from EACH of these 2 cows every day!).  One of my more favorite cows, Kaliedoscope, (or #7025 for ease of entering) was #5 @ 103 lbs.
The entire herd averaged 72 lbs of milk today.  This is down a bit from last month, when we were very happy that we crossed the hump to 1500 pounds of combined fat & protein, meaning each cow gives 1500 pounds of butterfat (that goes into butter, cream, etc.) and protein (that goes into cheese) each year.  This is a hump we've been waiting to cross for awhile, and finally did last month (we went to Culver's for lunch to celebrate with Ainsley!).  Hopefully, we won't roll back below that this month, but this is figured on a 12 month rolling average, so we are still knocking off months from last year when our cows were recovering from VERY hot temperatures and an unfinished barn (therefore, little to no cooling fans & sprinklers available), so I'm pretty optimistic.  We also haven't had any calves for almost a month, and cows that have recently calved give more milk, so we're in a bit of a lull until next week when we'll have a batch due in early to mid December, and then we've got another break until the end of January.

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