Heifer and calf facilities were the focus of a recent tour of Trinrud’s Whitetail Dairy.
The Jan. 22 farm tour was part of the 2013 Cow College sponsored by the University of Wisconsin Extension and Fox Valley Technical College.
Brad and Ruth Trinrud have Registered Holsteins on their farm located on Haase Road north of Waupaca.
The cow facilities were the first stop on the tour.
The farm’s original barn burned down in 1988 and the Trinruds built a tie-stall barn.
They converted the dairy facilities to a double-eight milking parlor and free-stall operation in 2001.
“Like everything, you never build it big enough,” Brad said.
A second free-stall barn was built in 2010 and houses about 170 pre- and post-freshening cows.
The newest addition is the 43-pen calf barn, which was built in 2012.
Spiegelberg Implement, Inc., Weyauwega, helped design the calf barn at both Whitetail Dairy and at the tour’s previous stop, Sandy-Valley Farms, Scandinavia.
Trinruds’ calf barn is half the size of the one at Sandy-Valley Farms, according to Luke Spiegelberg of Spiegelberg Implement. Also, there is no concrete in the 4×8-foot pen areas at Whitetail Dairy.
“Limestone gives better drainage,” Spiegelberg said.
“It has worked exceptionally well,” Trinrud agreed. “We don’t need as much bedding.”
“There is never an ammonia smell in here,” he added. “It hasn’t been an issue. And it’s easier to see the calves in here.”
Prior to the new facility, Trinruds raised their calves in hutches.
“Hutches are probably the best, but they’re a lot of work,” Brad Trinrud said.
Some of the problems with hutches are walking in snow and ice, poor lighting and working outside in hot or cold weather, he said.
Cost of a calf barn is about $1,600-$1,700 per stall, Spiegelberg said. He noted the cost was less for Whitetail Dairy because they did some of their own building.
“It was a very informational tour,” said Chad Schroeder, who has a 61-cow dairy herd near Greenville. “It gave us some good ideas.”
He compared the Whitetail Dairy tour with the earlier tour of Sandy-Valley Farms.
“I like Trinruds’ calf barn better,” he said. “It had more light coming through.”
“I like the idea of line screening for drainage instead of concrete,” his wife, Sara, said.
“We came to look at calf housing,” said Gary Olson, of Pulaski, who has a 300-cow dairy and currently keeps calves in hutches.
He said the calf facilities were similar on the two farm visits.
“I liked the limestone screening option for underneath the calves,” said Olson’s daughter and farm partner Heather Jauquat. “The calves looked like they were doing fine at both (sites).”
“We have hutches and are looking at our options,” said Ryan Loos, who milks 100 cows near Appleton. “Both (facilities) were nice.”
“The new calf barns they had are very nice and well thought out,” said Roger Pescinski, Shawano, who works at BMO Harris Bank.
“I do agricultural lending and get asked my opinion a lot,” he said. “I need to see what’s out there.”
“It’s interesting to see how things have changed,” said Dan Gitter, of Greenstone Farm Credit Services, Clintonville. “Years ago, calves were housed inside, then in hutches.”
“These new facilities are a good combination of both,” he said. “They are a nice environment for the calves and for the workers.”
“They design everything so it’s easy to keep clean,” Gitter added. “The stalls can all come apart to wash down.”
The Trinruds own 540 acres and rent another 1,000 acres. Besides the dairy operation, they also cash crop.
“We grow all our own feed and have no irrigated land,” Brad said.
Most of their acreage is divided into small, odd-shaped fields, which makes it hard to set up irrigation systems, he explained. They may eventually put irrigation in some of the larger fields.
Helping Brad and Ruth are their children – Jensen, 13, and Griffin, 12.
“They both are a huge help to us on the farm,” Ruth said.
“Jensen helps with the care of the baby calves and Griffin helps Brad with feed mixing,” she said. “They both help with cleaning of barns and basically anything else we need them to do.”
Brad’s father, Dale, also helps on the farm – mostly in the spring and fall with planting and harvesting.
Whitetail Dairy also has three full-time employees.
The 205-cow herd currently has a rolling herd average of 29,850 pounds of milk with 3.6 butterfat and 3.0 protein.
The cows are fed a mixture of haylage, corn silage, high moisture corn, dry corn, roasted beans, and a protein mix.
Cows are fed once a day, with 8-10 push-ups per day.
Heifers are fed oatlage or haylage, grass balelage and minerals.
Older calves ages 2-6 months are fed dry hay and a heifer grower grain.
Calves ages two days old to two months are fed 22/20 milk replacer and a starter grain.
Newborn calves up to two days are fed either fresh colostrum or a natural bovine dried colostrum.
According to Brad, plans are to upgrade the existing parlor to a double-10 herringbone. Currently it takes four hours to complete each of the three daily milkings.
With the new parlor, Brad plans to install an electronic identification system, “to better track cows and their production.”
He is still checking price differences between DeLavel and Surge milking systems. He plans to have the upgrade completed by late spring.