In last week’s edition, we ambled down memory lane and learned how the Hoard’s Dairyman Farm is rooted in alfalfa roots. This week we'll fast forward to the farm as it operates just north of Fort Atkinson, Wis., today.

The farm is a striking contrast between old and new. The original farmstead, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, sits near the road. Just to the east of original farm buildings are a milking parlor and freestall barn, which were constructed in 2007. The facility also includes a visitor center and meeting room.

Cows are milked three times per day. Just over half of the herd is Jerseys, while the balance are Guernseys. The milking herd is fed a total mixed ration twice per day. Dry cows and young stock are housed at separate locations away from the main farm.

Currently, about 850 acres of owned and rented cropland is used to grow alfalfa (about 300 acres) and corn (silage and grain). Custom operators are employed to accomplish all of the field activities from planting to harvest. Both alfalfa and corn silage are stored in bags that sit on a gravel base.

Alfalfa is generally cut four times per growing season with the last accomplished in late August or early September, depending on the year. Average dry matter yield was in excess of 6 tons per acre in 2014.

We’ll discuss more about the forage enterprise as the growing season progresses. If you’d like to read more about the specifics of the dairy operation, the farm’s website can be found here.

Mike Rankin, Managing Editor