Dairy Tour at 2020 DCHA Annual Conference
“Shaping the Future” is the theme of the 2020 Dairy Calf & Heifer Association (DCHA) Annual Conference. Attendees will gain valuable knowledge and practical strategies to build a strong future for their calf and heifer business enterprises.
On April 7, the optional tour to Larson Acres, Evansville, Wis. highlights an amazing operation. In addition, Jennifer Van Os, University of Wisconsin assistant professor and extension animal welfare specialist, will discuss animal welfare benefits of social (pair/group) rearing. Terri Ollivett, another University of Wisconsin assistant professor will discuss proper ventilation and pneumonia. Experts from Calf-Tel by Hampel will demonstrate their calf hutch systems.
Larson Acres, Inc. includes six Larson families. Spanning five generations, they combine their interests, efforts, expertise and enthusiasm for farming. For nearly a century, the family has valued their place in the community. Currently, they raise crops on more than 5,000 acres and care for 2,800 cows.
The dairy farm tour includes visiting four calf barns, with 60 individual calf pens in each two-row barn. Individual calf pens can be combined into pairs after weaning to introduce individuals to group housing. Larsons use an all-in, all-out management system. After a building has been completely cleaned, it sits empty for one to two weeks.
Positive-pressure ventilation tubes run constantly in occupied barns to supplement natural ventilation achieved with tall, curtain sidewalls. Pens are set away from the sidewalls by 3.5 feet (1.1 meter) to avoid drafts of cold air on the calves coming in through the top opening in the curtain. A covered ridge cap allows natural ventilation forces to work while keeping out snow and rain.
The concrete floors are graded from center outward to promote drainage to small gutters in front of and behind pens. Deep, straw bedding and calf jackets are used in the winter and wood shavings are used in summer.
In addition, participants may tour the milking parlors and free-stall barns at Larson Acres.