The dairy complex at Miner Institute consists of four barns. A 160-cow freestall barn was built in 1970 for dairy cows, but now houses pregnant dairy heifers and is used for hay and straw storage. This barn has been modernized over the years; it now has sidewall curtains which have improved ventilation. Further modifications will be made to improve its usefulness. A freestall barn with calving pens was constructed in 1999; this barn now houses heifers from six months through breeding age. We also have a greenhouse barn built in 1993 for calves from weaning through five months.
Our 272-cow insulated freestall milking barn was built in 2004. The facility was designed with labor efficiency and research capability in mind. Features include an automated ventilation system involving chimneys and sidewall curtains, alley scrapers running continuously, palpation rail, sort gate and special needs areas with headlocks. The barn also has rubber mats throughout, and a catwalk and video cameras for cow behavioral observations. The current herd, consisting of approximately 325 registered Holstein dairy cows, is milked three times a day in a double-12 parallel parlor with automatic identification and pedometer system. Milking times (one milker per shift) are 4:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 8:30 p.m. The parlor and holding area are cleaned with a flush system. Feeding is once per day, with feed pushup six times daily. This barn also has an attached research wing including an office/laboratory and feed room, and 16 tie stalls that allow us to measure individual cow feed intakes.
Dairy calves are raised from birth to weaning in outdoor hutches. In the summer months, the calves are fed twice daily, while in winter months they are fed three times a day. Calf weights are recorded weekly to monitor average daily gain, and feed quantities are adjusted accordingly. Weaning is at 200 lbs, which is usually at 6 to 7 weeks of age.
Miner Institute harvests grass, alfalfa-grass and corn from about 700 acres. More than 95 percent of the forage produced on the farm is harvested as silage; the remainder is harvested as dry hay. The alfalfa-grass is intensively managed, with a 32- to 35-day interval between harvests for first, second, and third cuts. In some years, a fourth cutting is taken at a minimum of a 45-day harvest interval.
Learn more about Miner Institute's crops program.
Learn more about Miner Institute's dairy research program.